By Indiewire | Indiewire September 23, 2003 at 2:00AM
"Scarface" Lashes the B.O.; Docs Continue Strong
by Brian Brooks
The box office was loaded with openers over the weekend, with Focus Features landing in the number-one spot on the iW BOT for its 20th anniversary re-release of Brian DePalma's 1983 feature "Scarface." Vitagraph's "Bubba Ho-Tep" took second place on the chart, while "Lost in Translation," which reigned number one in the chart for two weeks, remained strong in third place as it opened new theaters. And, a slew of films bowed in the $4K to upper $6K range including New Yorker Films' "To Be and to Have," Palm Pictures' "demonlover," Samuel Goldwyn/Equinoxe Films' "Mambo Italiano," and IFC Films' "Casa de los Babys."
Brian DePalma's "Scarface" opened in 13 theaters, and managed to migrate all the way to the pinnacle of the iW BOT, which tracks specialty releases based on per-screen average. The feature about a Cuban refugee who creates a crime empire in Florida grossed $242,821 for an explosive $18,679 per-screen average. Meanwhile, Don Coscarelli's "Bubba Ho-Tep," a cult flick about what would happen if Elvis Presley were saving the world from evil entities, bowed on two screens, landing in second place on the chart. "Bubba" was a favorite on the festival circuit including the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival as well as in Seattle. The film grossed $35,636 for a kingly $17,818 average.
Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" has proven itself to be a box office heavyweight in wider release. The Japan-set feature played 183 screens (up from last week's 23) taking in more than $2.62 million for a tsunami-sized $14,332 per-screen average and a total of just under $4 million. Strand Releasing continues its box office rush with "Party Monster," now in its fourth weekend of release. The film played nine screens grossing $50,065 ($5,563 average) and a number five position on the chart. So far, the film has cumed $375,486.
New Yorker Films' French doc "To Be and to Have," by Nicolas Philibert, placed fourth on the chart its opening weekend, playing three screens, grossing $20,528 ($6,843 per-screen average). Docs have continued to show strength this year, with Sony Classics' "Winged Migration" passing the $10 million mark, earning $117,218 on 118 screens ($993 average) on its 23rd weekend of release. Magnolia Pictures' "Capturing the Friedmans" also recently surpassed the $3 million threshold. "Friedmans" will be the topic of discussion this week at a panel in New York at the IFP Market. Now in theaters for 17 weeks, the doc took in $16,122 on 24 screens ($672 average). And, "Spellbound" played 36 sites grossing $32,439 ($901 average) its 21st weekend, with a cume slightly under $5.6 million.
Palm Pictures' "demonlover" bowed in eight theaters grossing $39,284 ($4,911 average), while the Samuel Goldwyn/Equinoxe Films release "Mambo Italiano" played 178 sites its opening weekend, grossing $734,570 for an average of $4,127. IFC Films' "Casa de los Babys," an ensemble drama from John Sayles, averaged slightly less at $4,051 on nine screens at a total gross of $36,456.
Also debuting over the weekend were the Sundance Film Series release of Michael Winterbottom's "In this World," which grossed $24,600 at 10 sites ($2,460 average) and Indican Pictures' "Emerald Cowboy," which took in $9,708 on four screens for a slight average of $2,427.
Next week, Fish Eye Films opens "Camera Obscura" in L.A., "My Life Without Me" (Sony Classics) by Isabel Coixet opens in New York and L.A., Alex Steyermark's "Prey for Rock and Roll" bows in various cities and Strand Releasing's "Yossi & Jagger" opens at New York Film Forum.