"Penguins" Flock to Number One Again; "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" Finds Strong Box office Pulse
by Brian Brooks
Luc Jacquet's doc "March of the Penguins" preyed on the specialty box office once again in its second weekend in theaters, scoring the premier position on the iW BOT, ranked on a per screen basis, following an expansion. The film, a Warner Independent Pictures release, grossed the second most dollars on the list, following Lions Gate's "Rize." Wellspring's French feature "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" by Jacques Audiard opened in limited engagements over the Friday to Monday July 4th weekend, wrestling the second placement on the chart with a solid debut, while IFC Films' "Me and You and Everyone We Know" came in up to par following its expansion, ranking third on the iW BOT.
Warner Independent Pictures' doc "March of the Penguins" waddled into an additional 16 sites over the holiday weekend, swarming the specialty box office with an impressive $525,391 gross on 20 screens. "Penguins" placed first on the iW BOT with a $26,270 screen average, a 24% decline from its opening $34,373 average. In two weeks, the film has cumed $745,480.
Fellow French production, "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" trumped onto the iW BOT with a strong debut at five locations, taking in $81,277 for a $16,255 per site tally. The film ranks second on the chart, and was the biggest specialty debut over the weekend.
"We're thrilled, it was the highest opening for a foreign-language film during this calendar year at both Lincoln Plaza and the Angelika Film Center in New York, [and] second highest at the Sunset 5 in Los Angeles," said Wellspring head of distribution Ryan Werner in a conversation with indieWIRE Wednesday. "The film got great reviews pretty much across the board and the word- of-mouth seems to be strong."
Werner credited the film's July 4th opening and critics for its strong debut, and the fact that the film is a re-make of James Toback's "Fingers," which he said "attracted a lot of attention." He added, "The greatest credit goes to Jacques Audiard who has quickly become one of the best storytellers working today." "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" opened in what Werner and other specialty execs have called a tough marketplace. "Good reviews and some press are not enough," said Werner. "[One has] to spend more money and [one] has to work harder to get [a] film noticed. There are more films opening than ever before and as a result, they are not doing as well as they once did. The right weekend is key, and this year, just about every weekend is a tough one. Foreign films now compete with not only American independents for space, but also a much larger onslaught of documentaries."
Wellspring will open "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" this weekend in San Francisco, followed by the top markets by the end of the month.
IFC Films' "Me and You and Everyone We Know" found more box office acquaintances at 21 additional locations in its third weekend in theaters, placing third on the chart. The film grossed a hefty $296,201 from 26 sites, for an $11,392 per screen average, a 26% decline from last week's $15,401 average from five screens. "Me and You" has totaled $465,243 through Monday.
Zeitgeist Films' "The World" ranked fifth on the chart with $6,776 with its holiday weekend debut at one location. Lions Gate's "Undead" debuted on two screens with an eighth place showing on the chart, grossing $9,851 ($4,926 average), while "A Decent Factory" by First Run/Icarus Films took in $1,900 at one site, and Artistic License's "Twist of Faith" grossed $2,474 from two screens ($1,237 average).
Lions Gate's dance doc "Rize" took in the most money on the specialty chart over the weekend, grossing $645,736 at 352 locations in its second weekend in theaters, although its per screen average declined 59% to $1,834. The film's two-week cume is almost $2.67 million.
"Mad Hot Ballroom" was the iW BOT's second highest grosser, with $623,903 from 202 screens. The film's per screen average increased 14% to $3,089, while Paramount Classics added ten locations. "Ballroom"'s two-month cume is nearly $4 million.
Roadside Attractions' "Ladies in Lavender" also took a holiday boost, increasing its per screen average 25% to $3,414 from the prior week, grossing $392,586 from 115 screens (110 last week), the fourth highest grossing film on the chart. In ten weeks, the film is also closing in on the $4 million mark.
The combined figures for the chart's top three overall moneymakers, "Rize," "Mad Hot Ballroom," and "March of the Penguins," represented 55% of the entire weekend specialty box office of just over $4 million on 1,538 screens (1,454 last week). The combined average of the 76 films reporting grosses was down a little more than 1% from the previous weekend at $2,601 ($2,630 last week).
Factoring out "Penguins," "Ballroom," and "Rize," the remaining 73 films on the chart took in over $2.2 million on 964 screens, averaging $2,287 or 12% lower than the overall iW BOT average. Industry-wide, 121 films grossed almost $171 million on 37,397 screens for a $4,572 combined screen average, or 43% above the iW BOT figure.
Last year, the iW BOT tracked 59 titles over the July 4th holiday, with the iW BOT average one year ago calculating at $8,924, although the figure was boosted by mega-performer "Fahrenheit 9/11." Minus the Michael Moore doc, the average came in at $2,894 or about 10% greater than the current iW BOT average.
THINKFilm's doc, "Murderball," sure to be popular after a successful festival run, will open in limited release, as will Palm Pictures' "Cronicas." Sony Classics will open two specialty titles this weekend, including "Saraband," and "The Beautiful Country."