Specialty Box office Croons to "The Ballad of Jack and Rose" in Another Slow Weekend
by Brian Brooks
Rebecca Miller's "The Ballad of Jack and Rose" capped a number one specialty showing last weekend following another week in which specialty offerings failed to generally dazzle the box office, with a combined screen average below $2,000, although the numbers improved over the previous week. Tartan Films' "Old Boy" also showed strength, placing a respectable second on the chart in its debut, while THINKFilm's "Mondovino" rolled out with a moderate b.o. toast. Last week's topper, "Melinda and Melinda" from Fox Searchlight also made a fair showing following a sizeable expansion, as did the distributor's other title, "Millions." And, for the first time this year, no film reported seven-figure grosses over the weekend, which ended Easter Sunday, March 27.
IFC Films' "The Ballad of Jack and Rose" opened in four theaters, staking its place in the premiere position of the iW BOT with a $14,865 per screen average from $59,459 in grosses over the Easter weekend. In comments to indieWIRE Tuesday, IFC Films trumped the film's theatrical release. "It is extremely exciting to open to such strong numbers for 'The Ballad of Jack and Rose,'" commented IFC Films' Mark Boxer, vice president of distribution. "We played to capacity audiences in all four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and sold out prime time shows in Santa Monica."
Boxer also commented that the film attracted "a broad mix of people" and gave an "overwhelming" reaction to star Daniel Day-Lewis' performance in the film, which was directed by his wife. "[Lewis] is a brilliant actor with a loyal following [and] the fresh and innovative voice of director Rebecca Miller was equally welcomed and revered." Boxer expects word-of-mouth and "the amount of press coverage" the film has received to "help drive the gross." IFC Films will open the feature in the top 20 markets on April 1, while continuing to expand in New York and Los Angeles.
Chan Wook Park's "Old Boy" opened on five screens in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend. The action-adventure film took in $68,957 for a stellar $13,791 per screen average.
Also joining the specialty line up was THINKFilm's Cannes 2004 doc, "Mondovino." The film by Jonathan Nossiter, which takes a look at the effect of globalization on the wine industry in various countries around the world, grossed $9,840 at a sole weekend engagement.
"We saw very consistent numbers on the film throughout the weekend, including some sold-out evening shows, and [it] had a very strong Monday," said Mark Urman, head of U.S. theatrical distribution at THINKFilm in a conversation with indieWIRE Tuesday. "This is a film that needs to 'ferment.' In France, the opening was a bit quiet, and the film went on to be a real smash. While we don't expect it to cause the cultural ripples here that it did there, the groundwork has been laid for a very solid performance throughout the country."
Urman went on to comment that he expects the politics discussed in the film to attract some audiences in certain markets, while "the celebration of wine culture" will lend the appeal in other areas. "Even wealthy people who like their garments hand-made and want their wines to be 'artisanal' can respond to the film on a philosophical, if not political level."
THINKFilm will open "Mondovino" this coming weekend in San Francisco and in the neighboring wine country, "a market that should respond to both the subject matter and the politics of 'Mondovino,'" commented Urman. The film will expand in Northern California after its initial opening, and will roll out "to other top markets" as well.
In other weekend debuts, Wellspring brought Savi Gavison's "Nina's Tragedies" to four screens, grossing $24,456 for a seventh placement on the chart with a $6,114 average, while Koch Lorber Films opened Ruth Leitman's "Lipstick and Dynamite" at one engagement with a $4,046 showing.
Fox Searchlight's "Melinda and Melinda" added 94 locations, placing fifth on the chart, and grossing $740,619. The film averaged $7,796 from the weekend's 95 screens, and has cumed just under $1 million. The film was the second highest overall specialty grosser on the chart, following Lions Gate's "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," which took in $982,934 from 802 sites ($1,226 average). Fox Searchlight's "Millions" placed sixth in the iW BOT, adding 58 sites, grossing $488,044 for a $6,338 average ($10,669 last week, a 41% decline).
Newmarket's "Downfall" rounded out the chart's top ten, grossing $553,538 on 128 screens (41 added), and averaging $4,325 (a 36% drop). In five weeks the film has cumed over $2.2 million. "Downfall" was the weekend's fourth biggest grosser, behind "Sideways," which took in $578,495 from 413 sites ($1,401 average, an 11% decline).
The Easter weekend's specialty average was a slow $1,704, althought it's an 8% increase from the previous week's $1,565. In all, 3,908 sites played 74 specialty titles, grossing over $6.66 million. The top four grossing titles, "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," "Sideways," "Melinda and Melinda," and "Downfall" took in a combined $2.855 million, or 43% of the entire specialty take on 1,438 screens.
The iW BOT's remaining 70 titles grossed $3.8 million on 2,470 screens for a $1,541 average, 10% below the overall iW BOT's specialty average. Industry-wide, 126 films played nearly 36,000 screens, taking in $99.198 million, averaging $2,769, 39% above the iW BOT's 'indie' average.
IFC Films will open Dana Brown's "Dust to Glory" this weekend, while THINKFilm will debut "Kontroll" by Nimrod Antal in limited release. Also opening is Agnes Jaoui's "Look at Me" from Sony Pictures Classics.