By Indiewire | Indiewire June 2, 2005 at 2:0AM
SPC's "Saving Face" Faces the Specialty Box office; "Ladies in Lavender" Struts in Holiday Weekend Expansion
by Brian Brooks
Sony Pictures Classics' "Saving Face" boldly debuted in the iW BOT over the Memorial Day weekend at the forefront of the specialty chart, screening at a half-dozen outlets in an otherwise tepid holiday period dominated by initial summer blockbusters. Tartan Films and TLA Releasing's joint roll out, "Mysterious Skin" expanded modestly in the four-day period, ending Monday, May 30 with a solid per screen average, while Paramount Classics' "Mad Hot Ballroom" continued its waltz with the chart also in additional venues. Roadside Attractions' "Ladies in Lavender" padded its per screen average after adding runs in additional markets, while several holiday openers performed with less stellar numbers.
Alice Wu's Sundance 2005 feature "Saving Face" topped the iW BOT's ranking on a per screen basis, opening on six screens. The film grossed $99,079 for a $16,513 per screen average. "We're thrilled with the opening," said Sony Classics' Michael Barker to indieWIRE yesterday about the opening, while touting the film. "It is the perfect alternative to the mainstream studio blockbuster this summer."
Barker said, "there were many different target audiences" for the film, including women, Asians and "the college educated crowd." Sony Pictures Classics will open the film in Northern California this weekend.
Fellow Sundance 2005 alum "Mysterious Skin" by Gregg Araki performed in its fourth weekend in theaters, with added screens. The feature added seven sites, grossing $71,150 on eight screens, averaging $8,894, a 32% decline from last week's showing at one location. "Mysterious Skin" has cumed $149,255.
Paramount Classics Slamdance '05 winner "Mad Hot Ballroom" remained steady on its feet in week three after a significant expansion. The doc, directed by Marilyn Agrelo, added 42 new suitors, grossing $449,351, the second highest in terms of overall gross on the chart. "Ballroom" averaged $7,883 on 57 screens, a 21% drop from the previous weekend, and its cume is $723,644.
In other Memorial weekend openers, Rialto's "The Two of Us" debuted at one location, taking in $7,400, placing fourth on the chart, while Tartan Films' "Genesis" also played one screen, following at fifth on the list with $6,907. Kino International rolled out "The Ninth Day" at two sites, taking in $11,587 ($5,794 average), placing seventh, while Palm Pictures opened "Bomb the System" at a pair of showings with $9,176 ($4,588 average). Magnolia, meanwhile, debuted "A League of Ordinary Gentlemen" at one theater, grossing $4,498, while New Yorker's "Sequins" played two screens, taking in $7,354 ($3,677 average).
Roadside Attractions' "Ladies in Lavender" added 30 screens, taking advantage of the holiday weekend, and adding significantly to its per screen average. The film by Charles Dance, which had its U.S. premiere at the recent Tribeca Film Festival, took in $550,255 from 88 screens, averaging $6,253. Last week, the film played 58 sites, averaging $3,759, giving the film a 40% per-site increase. The film was also the highest absolute grosser on the iW BOT for the four-day period, and its five-week cume is now nearly $1.6 million.
"The expansion markets performed incredibly well this weekend and the existing theaters all continued to flourish," commented Michael Silberman, president of IDP, which is releasing the film for Roadside Attractions. "'Ladies' has developed a loyal audience and the word of mouth on the film has been sensational. We will be adding additional markets throughout June and July."
The combined grosses of "Ladies in Lavender," "Mad Hot Ballroom," as well as the chart's third and fourth highest grossers, "Layer Cake" and "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" respectively represented about 55% of the entire iW BOT gross of nearly $3.36 million. The chart's 75 films played 1,346 screens, with a combined $2,496 per screen average, well below the industry-wide average of about $7,646.
Factoring out the chart's top four grossers, the remaining 71 titles represented just over $1.5 million on 964 screens for a $1,570 combined screen average, 33% below the iW BOT per screen average.
Newmarket's "Rock School" is among this weekend's openers. Miramax debuts its doc "Deep Blue," and also opening is Paramount Classics' "Apres Vous."