By Indiewire | Indiewire November 24, 2004 at 2:0AM
Que Bueno, Almodovar's "Bad Education" Strongest Showing Yet for Director
by Brian Brooks
Pedro Almodovar's "Mala Educacion" (Bad Education) climaxed at the specialty box office in its initial U.S. theatrical offering with one of the highest per screen averages of the year. Wong Kar-wai's re-release, "Days of Being Wild," opened strong on one screen, while last week's iW BOT topper, "Kinsey" placed third after an expansion maintaining a solid performance. Also adding venues was Miramax's "Finding Neverland," remaining in the chart's top tier. "Sideways" again added screens and huge returns for Fox Searchlight, taking a lopsided share of the overall specialty take for the weekend along with four other titles, which represented over 70% of the box office gross.
Sony Pictures Classics easily aced the indie numbers test with "Bad Education," which opened at three sites over the weekend taking in $147,370 for a spectacular $49,123 screen average, the fifth highest debut of the year, and the largest initial showing for an Almodovar film. The Spanish director's previous effort, "Hable con ella" (Talk to Her) opened on three screens with over $104,000 (under $35,000 per average).
"What makes me most happy is that the audience for this film is about as diverse as they come," Sony Classics co-president Michael Barker told indieWIRE on Monday. "[Moviegoers are] evenly divided between male and female with both an older crowd and also many young couples in their twenties. Also [there were] a lot of people who've never seen an Almodovar film before." Barker praised the director's consistent performance and steadfast appeal among audiences.
"Pedro Almodovar as a filmmaker and film icon has entered the culture, and I think that if you look at the trajectory from [his earlier work] to now, there's a string of successful pictures that is [virtually] unparalleled [and not seen] in a long time."
Clearly happy with the film's opening, Barker dismissed the film's rating as having any influence on audiences. "I don't think the [NC 17] rating had any affect whatsoever. I don't think it encouraged or discouraged people to go to 'Bad Education.'"
"Every two years, we've presented [an Almodovar] film before Thanksgiving, [and they have become] perfect counter programming at this time of year to the big studio films," continued Barker who also said the specialty company is positioning the film for upcoming awards including possible nods for best director, actor and script. "We are even looking for a best picture [nomination] because this is a year that is very open," concluded Barker.
Sony Classics will open the film in Los Angeles on December 10th, followed by 25-30 additional cities on December 22.
Kino International re-issued Wong's "Days of Being Wild" at one venue, taking in $18,090, placing second on the chart, while last week's number one, "Kinsey" ranked a strong third after adding 31 screens. The Bill Condon directed feature took in $577,721 for a $16,048 average ($33,808 last week, a 52% decline). In two week's, the film has totaled $826,679.
"Finding Neverland" discovered new venues in week two of its run, adding 49 sites with an $836,754 weekend gross ($14,680 average, a 47% decline from $27,566). The feature's two-week cume is nearly $1.5 million.
Bollywood feature "Veer-Zaara" dropped five sites, taking in $547,956 from 83 screens for a $6,602 average, a 31% decline from the film's $9,580 tally last week. In two weeks, the film has a total of over $1.75 million.
In other weekend openings, Cinema Guild's "Fear and Trembling" took in $6,008, while Picture This! Entertainment's "You I Love" grossed $5,785 on one screen each.
The iW BOT added three titles, taking in over $6.35 million for the weekend, a nearly $600,000 increase from the previous week, although the number of "indie" screens declined by 157 to 2,045. Overall, there was a 16% increase in the chart's per screen average to $3,109 ($2,626 last week), although five titles on the chart which grossed over $500,000 or more represented nearly 71% of the entire box office take, swelling the per screen calculation.
Fox Searchlight's "Sideways" crushed the competition with the biggest overall gross on the chart at nearly $1.83 million on 279 screens ($6,555 per screen average, a 33% decline). "Sideways," along with "Kinsey," "Finding Neverland," "The Motorcycle Diaries," and "Veer-Zaara" took in a combined $4.41 million. The chart's remaining 63 films grossed $1.945 million on 1,357 screens for a $1,434 per screen average. Industry-wide, 119 films took in $151.5 million on 35,800 screens, a 5% increase from last week's gross.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "A Very Long Engagement" is among the Thanksgiving weekend's offerings, along with Lous Ye's "Purple Butterfly." Also opening are Ken Loach's "A Fond Kiss," Robert Stone's "Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst," Richard Day's "Straight Jacket," and Nadir Moknèche's "Viva Laldjerie."