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July 8, 2003 2:00 AM
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"Swimming Pool" Dives Into Box office Cash

"Swimming Pool" Dives Into Box office Cash

by Brian Brooks

"Swimming Pool" dove right into the top spot on the indieWIRE box office table in its first weekend on screens. "Whale Rider" continued to breach high grosses during the holiday weekend entering its second month of release, while "Winged Migration" continues to fly high in theaters.

Focus Features' "Swimming Pool" drenched the competition in the box office during the 4th of July holiday weekend, easily capturing the top spot in the indieWIRE: BOT as measured by per screen average. The film, which opened on Wednesday, plunged in with a $22,073 3-day weekend average on 13 screens for a gross of $286,950. In fact, the film's 5-day average was even more of a splash at $28,970, bringing the film's cume to $376,610 so far. "Certainly it's nothing but wonderful that the opening is so successful," Jack Foley, president of theatrical distribution at Focus, told indieWIRE. "It is especially [so] since very few films have opened at this level recently." The film is the first in English by celebrated French director Francois Ozon, which Foley said was a key in the feature's "accessibility" (no doubt a sexy poster showcasing the French ingenue Ludivine Sagnier helped as well.)

In the six markets "Swimming Pool" is currently playing, Foley commented that most audience members were over 35 and basically even between men and women, with a slight skew toward females. "We're also getting younger people," Foley added. "At [Manhattan's] Sunshine Theater, there were primarily younger people, and the film [had a] $62,000 gross for the five day. It's good news for us because we know it's crossing over." Upcoming, Focus will expand the film to 17 markets and around 60 or so venues, and it will expand "aggressively" in San Francisco and New York as well. "We will maintain an arthouse focus as we expand in 11 markets," Foley told indieWIRE. "On the 25th, if it's there, we have plans to be very aggressive in releasing the film. There is nothing playing as intensely right now as this one."

52 films occupied the indieWIRE: BOT chart this week, with per screen averages ranging from a top of more than $22,000 for "Swimming Pool" to a low of just $121 for Paramount Classics release of "House of Fools." The 52 films in limited release earned more thatn $4.2 million this weekend.

New Zealand feature "Whale Rider" rose to the second spot on the BOT from number three last week grossing over $1.2 million on 209 screens, up from 163 the previous weekend. In its fifth weekend in theaters, the film averaged $5,943, down only slightly from $5,999 the previous weekend. The five-day average was also higher, at $7,612 on over $1.5 million in box office gross. "Whale Rider," released by Newmarket Films, has cumed over $4.14 million.

Shadow Distribution doc "The Weather Underground" maintained its top tier position in the iW: BOT at number three with its single screen at downtown New York's Film Forum. The film was the venue's top earner at $5,633. Since release five weeks ago, "Weather Underground" has totaled just over $80,000.









Ludivine Sagnier in a scene from Francois Ozon's "Swimming Pool," which opened last week in U.S. theaters. Courtesy: Focus Features

New Yorker Films' "Tycoon: A New Russian" rounded the chart's top five, after taking first place last weekend. The film by Pavel Lounguine played three screens, up from one the previous week grossing $13,176 for an average of $4,392. "Tycoon"'s new total is $65,527.

"Winged Migration," once again lands in the chart's top ten (6th place) after 12 weeks in release. The bird doc again increased its sites, playing in 108 venues, up from 79, grossing $439,461 for a $4,069 average ($4,413 the previous weekend) and a cume just under $4.7 million.

Fellow doc "Capturing the Friedmans," meanwhile, ranked 8th on the chart grossing $257,718 on 70 screens, an additional ten sites since last week. The Andrew Jarecki directed film averaged $3,682 during the holiday weekend, compared to $4,193 previously and has cumed just over $1.5 million.

ThinkFilm's "Spellbound" easily passed $3 million with grosses of $334,626 on 111 screens. The doc's tenth weekend of release averaged $3,015 for an 11th place on the iW: BOT and a cume of over $3.14 million.

Toronto 2002 fav "Raising Victor Vargas" by Peter Sollett is closing in on the $2 million mark in its 15th weekend of release, playing 18 screens with a $34,403 gross ($1,911 average). The Samuel Goldwyn/Fireworks Pictures release has cumed over $1.9 million.

This week, look for a number of specialty and indie openers competing for box office dollars, from Claude Berri's "The Housekeeper" (Palm Pictures), "Madame Sata" by Karim Ainouz (Wellspring), Alexander Rogozhkin's "The Cuckoo" (Sony Classics), Juan Luis Iborra & Yolanda Garcia Serrano's "Km. 0" from TLA Releasing, and "Northfork" by Michael Polish from Paramount Classics.

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