By Indiewire | Indiewire August 12, 2003 at 2:00AM
"Step into Liquid" is a Box office Tsunami; "Le Divorce Debut" is Magnifique
by Brian Brooks
Audiences in New York, L.A. and Hawaii plunged into theaters for "Step into Liquid," over the weekend, making the Artisan release the biggest opener of the summer as measured by per screen average and easily topping the indieWIRE: BOT this week. "Le Divorce" opened to blissful numbers taking the second spot for the weekend, while audiences continued to augment the box office collection of Miramax's "The Magdalene Sisters" in its second weekend in theaters.
Artisan Entertainment rode the box office wave all the way to the top of the iW: BOT over the weekend with Dana Brown's surf doc "Step into Liquid," taking the peak spot for the weekend grossing $135,985 on five screens for a per screen average of $27,197, the biggest per screen average opener of the summer so far. "Liquid" topped its rival, "Swimming Pool," which opened on thirteen screens during the 4th of July weekend with a $22,102 average.
"We're thrilled with the film's performance," said Amorette Jones, executive vice president of worldwide marketing at Artisan in a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday. "We are ecstatic about the strong New York grosses [in particular]. In coastal cities [the film] is an easier sell, so New York was something we were looking at in particular." The film indeed proved to be a box office tsunami at the Angelika Film Center in downtown Manhattan grossing $26,771, easily beating its runner up, "The Secret Lives of Dentists" (in its second weekend at the theater) by over $10,000.
Jones felt that the strong showing in New York bodes well for the film's future release in cities considered "non-surf" such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago where the film will open next weekend. "[There are] a lot of fans of surf [seeing the film], but there's a lot of interest in groups beyond a core surf group." Jones went on to comment that "fans of specialized film" as well as commercial audiences were interested in what Brown had brought to the screen as the son of "The Endless Summer" (1966) director Bruce Brown. She also cited a swell of interest in the "lifestyle [surfing] represents" as a source of attention. "The film is getting a lot of young people under 18 who may not usually go to documentaries," she commented.
Jones also credited the hard work of Brown in promoting the film as key. The director will travel to Virginia Beach to promote the film at a huge surf event there and will later head to Philadelphia to attend screenings and participate in Q & As. In addition to the cities mentioned earlier, "Liquid" will step into San Diego San Francisco and the California coastal community of Santa Cruz in addition to larger roll-outs in L.A. and New York.
James Ivory's "Le Divorce" from Fox Searchlight bowed on 34 screens grossing a box office settlement of $516,834. The Fox Searchlight release starring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts had a 'gran' per screen average of $15,201 and placed second on the chart. The film earned a brilliant debut at the Paris theater in New York, grossing $49,132.
Miramax's "The Magdalene Sisters" remained a box office crusader in its second weekend, taking in $107,833 on nine screens (up from five for its opening). The film placed third on the BOT with a heavenly $11,981 per screen average and has cumed $560,496.
"The Secret Lives of Dentists" added 11 showings in its second weekend, grossing $190,587 on 23 screens. The Manhattan Pictures International release placed fourth on the chart at $8,286 with its per screen average and has totaled $372,639.
"Boys Life 4" took fifth on the BOT list with a $6,788 average on two screens. The Strand Releasing collection of shorts earned $13,575 over the weekend bringing its total to $31,363.
IFC Film's "Camp" arrived in 40 new venues from its initial three following its release three weeks ago, dropping to 9th place on the chart with a $5,204 average, grossing $223,768. The Todd Graff directed feature has cumed $396,338 so far.
First Run Features, meanwhile, opened "Seaside" on one screen taking in $4,736 and an eleventh place spot on the chart.
ThinkFilm's "Spellbound" is just shy of the $5 million mark in its 15th weekend of release, grossing $122,364 on 75 screens (a $1,632 average). The doc now stands at $4.97 million.
Fox Searchlight's "Bend it Like Beckham" topped $30 million over the weekend grossing $915,047 on 849 screens (with a $1,078 average). The film has screened 20 weeks and has cumed more than $30.1 million.
Next weekend, Sundance winner "American Splendor" from Fine Line and HBO will open in theaters. Also debuting is Delphine Gleize's "Carnage" from Wellspring, Dan Ireland's "Passionada" from Samuel Goldwyn Films and Fireworks Pictures, and a re-release of George Clooney's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" from Miramax.