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December 22, 2004 2:00 AM
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"The Aviator" Rockets to the Top of the BOT

"The Aviator" Rockets to the Top of the BOT

by Brian Brooks

Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" landed at the pinnacle of the iW BOT ranked on a per screen basis following its initial limited release, unseating Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education," which held the position for one month straight. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "A Very Long Engagement" migrated higher in the chart following an expansion, while Zhang Yimou's "House of Flying Daggers" added well over 100 locations. Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski's doc "Born into Brothels" remained in its one location in New York with a strong average. Lions Gate's "Beyond the Sea" entered the chart's top tier, while other openers entered the box office weaker. And the specialty list's biggest four grossers represented nearly 75% of the entire indie take.

Miramax's "The Aviator" ascended the specialty box office's stratosphere, opening on 40 screens in select cities taking in $858,021 for a lofty $21,451 per screen average. Miramax will open the film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, in an additional 1,700 to 1,800 screens throughout North America this coming Saturday. "We are very happy with the initial release of 'The Aviator,'" Mike Rudnitsky, Miramax executive vice president of domestic distribution told indieWIRE yesterday. "The audience's reaction towards the film has been very strong." The company indicated that the audience was about evenly split by sex, and primarily in the 25-49 age bracket.

In other limited releases, Warner Bros. "Million Dollar Baby" grossed $179,953 on eight screens for a $22,494 per site tally, while Buena Vista's "The Life Aquatic" took in $98,787 from two sites ($49,393 average). Since its release two weeks ago, the film has totaled $311,689. indieWIRE has not included these titles on the chart, although they are in limited release, because they are being distributed by studios.

Sony Pictures Classics' "Bad Education" edged down to second place on the chart after spending one month has the head of the class. The company added three screens last weekend, taking in $102,524 for a still strong $12,816 per screen average ($27,003 last week, a decline of 53%). Since its release five weeks ago, the film has cumed $857,344.

Warner Independent Pictures added 20 locations for "A Very Long Engagement" one month into its roll out, grossing $239,796 for a $9,992 average on 24 screens. Last week, the feature averaged $12,527 from four sites, 21% more then the current count. The film's one month total comes to $550,659.

Last week's number two film, "Born into Brothels" from THINKFilm placed fourth on the BOT, holding onto one screen at New York's Film Forum where it will remain in the coming weeks. "Brothels" took in $9,155 for a two-week $30,570 total.

Lions Gate's "Beyond the Sea" debuted in fifth place with a $45,264 on six screens for a decent $7,544 average. Other openers over the weekend opened less robustly. Fine Line's "The Sea Inside" played 23 screens, taking in $55,681 ($2,421 average) and Sony Classics' "Imaginary Heroes" grossed $4,696 on two screens ($2,348 average). Strand Releasing's "Open My Heart," meanwhile, played one location, grossing $2,049.

Once again, Miramax's "Finding Neverland" was the chart's top overall grosser, taking in $1.96 million from 985 locations ($1,990 average, a 37% drop). The chart's number two film, "Sideways" from Fox Searchlight grossed just over $1.5 million on 420 screens ($3,578 average, $2,623 last week, a 27% increase on 53 fewer screens) and "The Aviator" came in third overall. On its heels was "House of Flying Daggers" from Sony Classics with a $812,764 weekend gross after an expansion to 145 screens from last week's 15. The film averaged $5,605 ($13,694 last week, a nearly 60% decline).

These four titles represented about 73% of the entire specialty gross of about $7.02 million. Overall, the specialty chart had a $2,475 per screen average from 59 titles on 2,838 screens. Previously, 71 films grossed $5.28 million on 2,756 screens for a $1,916 per screen average, giving the current period a 23% overall per site tally increase. Minus the four biggest grossing films, the remaining 55 titles took in nearly $1.89 million on 1,248 screens for a $1,514 per screen average.

Upcoming openers this week include Nicole Kassell's "The Woodsman," as well as Jaume Balaguero's "Darkness." Also opening is Nills Mueller's "The Assassination of Richard Nixon," Shainee Gabel's "A Love Song for Bobby Long," and Michael Radford's "The Merchant of Venice."

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