By Indiewire | Indiewire December 16, 2003 at 2:00AM
"The Girl with the Pearl Earring" Pierces the iW BOT Top Spot; "In America" Remains Decent in Expansion
by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
Lions Gate's "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" pierced the top spot of the specialty BOT over the weekend, making a solid debut in theaters. "In America," which took residence at number one for the previous two weekends, remained decent following a large expansion, remaining in the top tier of the chart as measured by per screen average. Also remaining sturdy were New Yorker Films' "My Architect" and Sony Classics' "The Triplets of Bellville." "The Statement," however, opened with a whisper.
Peter Weber's "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" adorned the number one spot of the specialty box office over the weekend. The Lions Gate release bowed on seven screens, grossing $89,472 for a sparkling $12,782 per screen average. "It's a terrific opening so far," said Lions Gate president Tom Ortenberg in a conversation with indieWIRE. "We had numerous sell outs in New York, and our exit polls were fantastic."
Ortenberg commented further that 92% of respondents to the poll called the film "excellent" or "very good," and 81% said they would recommend the film. "We think the film will play for a long time," he commented further. The Lions Gate prez said the audience was skewed toward the 'mature' end at most screenings and that he expected the film to remain strong in the coming weeks. "With that audience, the crowds don't necessarily rush out to attend the first weekend," he said, "We're a hit critically and commercially so far. It should play well through the awards season." Continuing further, Ortenber said, "[We expect] the film to be reviewed even better as we spread out around the country, [and] believe the film will play even better around the country. It's making a lot of top ten lists, [and] we're expecting a long shelf-life for the movie." Ortenberg also lauded the film's chances as the awards season kicks into high gear.
"The Girl with the Pearl Earring" will add a few suburban dates in New York and Los Angeles December 26th, and will bow on screens in San Francisco and Chicago. The film will roll further into the top 20 markets on January 9th.
Lion's Gate's "The Cooler," which debuted one-month ago remained in the top ten over the weekend, grossing $45,419 with a $4,129 per screen average. "I feel the film has been holding up well under intense pressure," said Ortenberg. "[The film] is opening about 20 new markets on Friday. We're looking forward to seeing how it will hold up." So far, the film has cumed $320,020.
This week, the BOT tracks 43 films, the same number as the previous weekend, with a smaller overall gross, however, of $1.79 million compared to $2.2 million a week earlier. The number of overall screens playing specialty titles also decreased slightly to 1,168, from 1,264.
New Yorker Films' "My Architect" jumped to second place on the iW: BOT, although the number of screens was cut in half from four to two compared to the previous weekend. The film took in $22,830 for an $11,415 per screen average for weekend number five and has cumed $250,718.
Sony Classics' "The Triplets of Bellville" maintained its six screens, grossing $44,805 for a $7,468 per screen average. After four weeks in theaters, the film has totaled $305,219.
Fox Searchlight's "In America" jumped to 47 sites from 11 the previous weekend, remaining solid in fourth place on the BOT, grossing $275,435 ($5,860 average). Since opening over Thanksgiving, the film has cumed $803,254.
Sony Classics debuted "The Statement" on seven screens, taking in $37,220 for a per screen average of $5,317 and a fifth place ranking on the chart. Focus Features' "21 Grams" followed with a $322,069 weekend gross ($4,352 average). The film remained in 74 venues and has now cumed just over $2.9 million.
Opening over the weekend, against the "Lord of the Rings" sequel, is Errol Morris' Robert McNamara doc "The Fog of War." Also set to bow are Jonathan Kesselman's "The Hebrew Hammer," "House of Sand and Fog" by Vadim Perelman, and John Henerson's "Two Men Went to War."