By Indiewire | Indiewire May 6, 2003 at 2:0AM
The Box Office Last Weekend was "Spellbound"; "Lilya" and "Beckham" Continue Well
by Brian Brooks
Both the glittered and the mortal packed Film Forum over the weekend to see Jeff Blitz's "Spellbound" resulting in box office magic for the doc opening weekend. Fox Searchlight released "The Dancer Upstairs" to the tune of decent per screen averages in slightly over a dozen locations, while Miramax's "Blue Car" and Sony Classics' "Owning Mawhony" were quieter. However, Sony once again scored with "Winged Migration" while "Bend it Like Beckham" continued to be a winner since it debuted slightly less than two months ago. Also doing well in release is Swedish film, "Lilya 4-Ever."
Jeff Blitz's Oscar-nominated doc "Spellbound" opened Film Forum in Manhattan to sold out performances throughout the weekend, with people being turned away from the capacity 141 seat venue. Those apparently managing to score a ticket, however, included Brooke Shields on opening night, Claire Danes on Thursday, and Tobey Maguire on Friday night. The film, which follows a group of students taking part in the National Spelling Bee, grossed $17,508 over the weekend for a $23,046 total since opening Wednesday. "We're over the moon," commented Mark Urman, head of distribution at ThinkFilm, which is distributing the film, in a conversation with indieWIRE. "It began very solidly, kicked-off by superb reviews and a rave review by A.O. Scott in the New York Times that was just a love letter..." Urman revealed that he had later learned Scott had also participated in the National Spelling Bee.
Urman went on to say that there was virtually no drop off from Saturday to Sunday as had been expected, with only "about a $20 differential between the two days." ThinkFilm will expand in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut tri-state area on May 16th in addition to debuts in Los Angeles and Chicago. "[We'll be] expanding much more aggressively then we had immediately planned to," said Urman on "Spellbound"'s releases in mid-May. He went on to say the doc's opening in L.A. will be at a 'better' venue then originally planned after showing the exhibitor the weekend grosses. On the 30th, the film will go into the top 20 markets, including a screening in Washington, D.C. for 1,200 people who will be participating in this year's National Spelling Bee.
John Malkovich's directorial debut, "The Dancer Upstairs" managed a box office upheaval its opening weekend taking $106,142 in 13 sites. The film, starring Javier Bardem had an $8,165 per screen average.
Miramax's "Blue Car" by Karen Moncrieff opened on six screens more quietly grossing $30,087 for a $5,015 average, while Richard Kwietniowski's "Owning Mahowny" debuted on nine screens taking in $33,287 for a light $3,699 average.
"Winged Migration" continued its ascension in its third weekend, expanding from two to 8 sites, earning the bird doc $90,179 for a superb $11,272 per screen average. So far, the Oscar-nominated film has a $189,532 cume. Fellow Sony release "The Man without a Past," meanwhile, entered week 5 on 28 screens earning $94,026 ($3,358 average) for a $355,297 total.
Newmarket's "Lilja 4-Ever" played 4 sites taking in $21,117 on its third weekend of release. The Lukas Moodysson directed film averaged $5,279, up from the previous weekend's $4,928. The film's cume is now $102,977.
Matthew Barney's "Cremaster Cycle" continued on one screen at Film Forum with three showings per day grossing $8,133. The Palm Pictures' release has totaled $26,054 in two weekends.
Matt Dillon's "City of Ghosts" played six screens earning the UA release $17,875 on its second weekend in theaters. The film's cume so far is $58,723.
Box office wunder-film "Bend it Like Beckham" added 62 screens, taking in almost $1.5 million at 483 sites. The film, directed by Gurinder Chadha averaged $3,044, down slightly from last weekend's $3,656, for a new cume approaching $11 million.
"Better Luck Tomorrow" meanwhile added 7 screens grossing $506,661 for a per screen average of $1,309, compared to last weekend's $2,714 average. Finishing its fourth weekend in release, the Justin Lin directed film has a take just over $3 million.
Continuing well in its ninth weekend is Zeitgeist Films' "Nowhere in Africa," appearing on 70 screens with a $292,853 box office for a solid $4,184 average. The film has earned $2.18 million.
Jordan Melamed's "Manic" made a sizeable drop on its one screen taking in $4,367, compared to its opening weekend $7,628 gross. Also falling on its second weekend was IFC's "A Decade Under the Influence," earning $1,219 also at one site. Last weekend's debut gross was $2,320.
This week, look for openings from "Man on the Train," "Only the Strong Survive," "The Shape of Things," and "Washington Heights."