By Brian Brooks | Indiewire November 16, 2005 at 3:40AM
Roadside Attractions laughed all the way to the box office with the release of "Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic," which opened on limited screens, capturing the premiere position on the indieWIRE box office table as ranked on a per screen basis. Fellow newcomer "Pride & Prejudice" from Focus Features debuted in over two-hundred theaters, instantly becoming the iW BOT's overall top earner and ranking second on the chart with a plush screen average, while other weekend openers including Magnolia Pictures' "Pulse" and Fox Searchlight's "Bee Season" also placed on the chart's top five. Sony Classics' "Capote" and Warner Independent Pictures' "Good Night, and Good Luck" remained big earners following limited expansions.
[View the indieWIRE:BOT Box Office Table for this week's films here.]
Liam Lynch's comedy "Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic" grinned at the weekend box office, taking in $124,475 on seven screens, ascending the feature to the iW BOT's top spot with a $17,782 per screen tithe. Distributor Roadside Attractions seemed pleased with the initial results.
"We're thrilled. It's tremendous validation to see that audiences are as excited about her comedy as we are," commented Roadside Attractions co-president Eric d'Arbeloff to indieWIRE Tuesday. "It's particularly gratifying that it played so well in Chicago and Minneapolis -- we think it shows the movie will have a life beyond the coasts. In our Chicago venue, the per screen average exceeded both 'Pride & Prejudice' and 'Bee Season,' which obviously outspent us by millions."
D'Arbeloff also indicated that weekend crowds buying tickets to the film ranged demographically. "The anecdotal evidence it that the audience is diverse. I saw the 7:30 show in Los Angeles last Friday and was surprised to see how many of the people were 35-plus, the more traditional art-house crowd. The later show definitely skewed younger, and I saw quite a few college-age people, [while] at the Empire 25, our Times Square venue, got some significant Black and Latino viewership. The PR campaign was definitely our most potent tool for marketing the film. The press was interested in Sarah to begin with and really seemed to love the film."
Roadside Attractions had some challenges getting its trailer made due to the film's non-rating, but had good success with university outreach. "We did a series of screenings to directly target the college audience [which] went really well, though we were surprised that the 'brainier' the school, the bigger the laughs -- Princeton, MIT and UVA went nuts." New York's Union Square was the top earner, while the NuArt in Los Angeles also had strong traffic.
Roadside Attractions will open the film in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco this coming weekend and will move to a mix of large and small cities going forward. "The venues will include both art-house and commercial multiplex locations."
Andrew Black's "Pride & Prejudice" opened on 215 screens over the weekend, instantly becoming the chart's largest grossing film, taking in over $2.86 million with a grand $13,326 per screen average. The film placed second on the chart.
Last week's number one film "Gay Sex in the '70s" remained on one screen, taking in $11,743, placing third on the iW BOT. Its two-week cume is $39,330.
Magnolia Pictures' "Pulse" opened on one screen, grossing $7,250, while Fox Searchlight's "Bee Season" opened at 21 locations, grossing $120,544 ($5,740 average).
In other openers, Wellspring's "Good Morning, Night" debuted at one venue with $2,769, while IFC Films' "Duane" grossed $2,519 also at one location. Strand Releasing's "Ellie Parker" took in $10,299 on six screens with a $1,717 average.
George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck" was the chart's second highest overall grossing film with a $2.5 million weekend take on 668 screens. The film averaged $3,745, 20% below last week's $4,667 and its six-week tally is almost $14.5 million.
Bennett Miller's "Capote" took in almost $1.2 million on 264 screens, averaging 19% below last week's average at $4,508. The film screened at 264 locations (183 last week) and its seven-week cume is over $6.5 million.
The weekend's indieWIRE box office chart includes 75 titles reporting a combined $9.01 million on 2,710 screens. This compares to the previous week's $7.55 million from 67 films on 3,341 screens.
Overall, the combined per screen average came to $3,325, or 32% higher than last week's $2,261 iW BOT average. "Pride & Prejudice," "Capote," and "Good Night, and Good Luck" took in over $6.55 million together on 1,147 screens.
Minus those films, the remaining 72 titles on the chart grossed nearly $2.5 million on 1,563 screens, averaging 53% below the iW BOT average at $1,570.
Industry-wide, 132 films made $126.1 million on 37,033 screens, averaging $3,405 or 3% higher than the iW BOT average.
Picture This! Entertainment will open "Blackmail Boy (Oxygono)" in select theaters. Also opening are Sony Classics' "Breakfast on Pluto," "The Syrian Bride" from Koch Lorber Films and Wolfe Releasing's "Unveiled."