"Scared" of the Box Office, Miramax's Italian Thriller on Top Again; "Robot Stories" Surges
by Brian Brooks
"I'm Not Scared" braved another weekend at the top of the specialty box office following a generally slow tracking period, the lowest since indieWIRE began its BOT one year ago. "Carlos Castaneda" held second place in the chart for its showing on one screen, while self-distributed "Robot Stories" surged, taking the bronze position. The debut of "Young Adam," meanwhile was less than illustrious, following a string of recent hits for its distributor, Sony Classics.
This box office chart represents the completion of iW's first year of data tracking. To celebrate, the independent film industry had its worst weekend since indieWIRE began tracking in terms of per-screen average, with the specialty average down to $1,460 per screen (a 63 percent decline from last week) the lowest point since May 6, 2002's average of $1,612. In contrast, the industry per-screen average totaled $2,402, a decline of about 13 percent. "The Passion" continued to keep the indie gross strong, accounting for just over $4 million of the $5.7 million total indie box office gross. A record 26 films in the chart performed above the indie per-screen average, however, with 17 of those also above the industry-wide per-screen average.
Gabriele Salvatore's "I'm Not Scared" frightened off the specialty competition to maintain its hold on the top position for a second week. The Miramax release added one engagement, grossing $40,330 on five screens for an $8,066 average, a decline of just over $4000 or about one-third from its debut average of just over $12,000. "I'm Not Scared"'s two-week cume stands at $109,425.
Indican Pictures' doc on mystic Carlos Castaneda, ("Carlos Castaneda: Enigma of a Sorcerer") ranked second on the chart for the week, taking in $6,982 on one screen for a cume of $19,683 after six weeks in release.
Self-distributed "Robot Stories" shot up to third in the BOT over the weekend, following the film's Bay Area debut. iW BOT first profiled the film after the President's Day weekend when it opened in New York on one screen, taking second place on the chart after the re-release of "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."
"Robot Stories," directed by Greg Pak, grossed $11,851 on two screens in Berkeley and San Francisco for a per-screen average of $5,926 and a $78,204 total over 10 weeks. "[The Bay Area] was the biggest target area for us," commented Pak in a telephone conversation with indieWIRE Tuesday. "[The region] has a big Asian population, the technology industry is big... and we worked very hard to get outreach. We [also] angled very hard to get into Berkeley near or on the campus."
The film found a home at the Landmark Act 1 & 2 near the Cal campus in addition to the Landmark Opera Plaza Cinema in the city. Hyphen, a local Asian-American magazine, helped sponsor the opening night party, and actors from New York and Los Angeles traveled to San Francisco for the event. "We had a lot of things that went well for us. We had tremendous reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle, and people there really read the reviews." Pak estimated about one-third of the audience that attended the film were a result of the positive reviews. "Robot Stories" will continue at the same theaters during the upcoming weekend, and the film will travel to Austin on May 7, Dallas on May 14 and Houston on May 28, followed by brief runs in Birmingham and Cleveland.
Neil Young's "Greendale," also a self-distributed release, screened six venues for a weekend gross of $21,072. The film's $3,512 average ranked ninth on the BOT, while its nine-week total came in at $147,356.
Sony Classics debuted "Young Adam" -- with an NC-17 rating -- at nine sites, grossing $50,278 for a moderate $5,586 per-screen average. The film company continued to have decent success with Korean-produced film "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring," adding six screens for a $66,288 take. The film averaged $5,099 at 13 sites, a decline of $1,854. "Spring, Summer" has cumed $202,395 since release three weeks ago. Fellow Sony Classics release "Bon Voyage" expanded by 15 screens taking in $142,809 at 41 sites, for a $3,483 average, a decline of nearly 13% from last week. Since release five weeks ago, the film has totaled $488,493.
Jonathan Demme's "The Agronomist" is among the specialty openers for the weekend from ThinkFilm. Also debuting is TLA Releasing's "Bulgarian Lovers," Film Movement's "Morlang," and IFC Films' "This So-Called Disaster."
[ Brian Clark contributed to this report. ]