By Indiewire | Indiewire July 15, 2003 at 2:00AM
"The Holy Land" Enjoys Box Divinity and "Swimming Pool" is a Splash at the Weekend Box Office
by Brian Brooks
The specialty box office was packed with new openers this weekend with "The Holy Land" and "Northfork" topping the indieWIRE: BOT and "Swimming Pool" taking the third spot in its second weekend in theaters. Also appearing in the top ten for their debut weekends were "The Housekeeper," "I Capture the Castle," and "Madame Sata."
Upstart Gotham-based distributor CAVU Pictures opened Eitan Gorlin's "The Holy Land" with an exclusive engagement at the Angelika Film Center in downtown Manhattan over the weekend singing the hymns of hard cash as the film grossed $19,014, taking the number one spot on the iW: BOT (as measured by per screen average). The film, CAVU's second release, also topped the grosses of all other films screening at the Angelika over the weekend, with the Polish brothers' "Northfork" coming in second with a $16,828 gross at the site. "This wasn't just dumb luck, we have really been working hard, and it paid off this weekend," commented Isil Bagdadi, president of production and acquisitions at CAVU Pictures in a conversation with indieWIRE. Both Bagdadi and Michael Sergio, president of CAVU Pictures were elated during a phone interview with indieWIRE yesterday, "We're thrilled, the number one film at the Angelika. We put a lot of work into this, and people are reacting great, with standing ovations," said Sergio. "It's the manifestation of grassroots marketing, a guerilla grass roots campaign, and we're seeing the fruits of it."
Sergio and Bagdadi went on to say that the cast from Israel hosted Q & A's upstairs following the screenings, with more then 150 people showing up for a Q & A after a showing. The film began the weekend in a smaller theater on Friday, but then was moved to a larger screen, "then we sold out the larger theaters," said Sergio who credits word of mouth as the primary reason for the film's popularity at the Angelika. "We didn't spend a lot of money on advertising. We're doing it in a way that distributors don't do anymore," said Sergio then adding, "We put all our energy into [releasing 'The Holy Land']. Physically, spiritually, and mentally, we become involved in that film." Sergio lamented, however, that The New York Times had ignored "The Holy Land" in the run up to its release, but felt vindicated with the weekend's success, jokingly adding, "We're the little intifada movie throwing rocks at the occupational New York Times." The film will remain at the Angelika exclusively through next weekend, but will open in more New York sites as well as Chicago on July 25th.
60 films were tracked on the indieWIRE: BOT chart this week, earning a total of $4.26 million which is on track with last week's $4.29 million. The films played on more just over 1,700 screens this week, which is up from last week's 1,471 screens.
Paramount Classics released The Polish Brothers latest, "Northfork" in five theaters, capturing second place in the iW: BOT grossing $61,481 or a solid $12,296 per screen average. The film has a solid debut at screenings in New York, L.A. and Chicago.
"Swimming Pool" continued to wet the palate of the specialty box office public over the weekend. Focus Features added 52 sites for the film directed by French director Francois Ozon, earning a Bastille-sized gross of $690,088 on 65 screens for a $10,617 average. "Swimming Pool," in fact was the top earner at Lincoln Plaza on the Upper West Side as well of Manhattan as downtown at the Lowes 19th Street Cinemas and the Landmark Sunshine Cinema. The film's two week total is just shy of $1.2 million.
Picture This! Entertainment rolled out "Confusion of Genders" at the Quad Cinema in Manhattan, capturing the fourth spot on the chart. The film grossed $7,933. "Spellbound," however continued to be the top film at the Quad, taking in $10,132 at that site. The doc, released by ThinkFilm, came in at number 15 on the iW: BOT in its 11th weekend of release earning $298,758 on 116 screens for a $2,576 average. The film by Jeffrey Blitz became the 7th top-grossing documentary of all time last week, and has cumed over $3.6 million.
Fellow doc "The Weather Underground" came in fifth on the chart, continuing its exclusive run at Film Forum in New York for the sixth weekend. The film grossed $7,140 over the weekend and has cumed $92,356. "Madame Sata," however was the biggest grosser at that site, taking in $11,610 at Film Forum. Released by Wellspring Media, the film by Brazilian Karim Ainouz took in $23,654 on four screens for an average of $5,914.
Palm Pictures released French director Claude Berri's "The Housekeeper" on six screens, making a tidy $42,083. The film averaged $7,014 and ranked sixth on the BOT.
Samuel Goldwyn debuted "I Capture the Castle" on eight screens, coming in 7th on the iW BOT, taking in $51,970 for a less then palatial $6,496 average.
Audiences were hardly nuts for "The Cuckoo," which bowed on six screens earning $16,473. The Sony Classics release averaged $2,746 and came in 14th on the chart.
Sony's "Winged Migration" continued its ascent into the box office stratosphere, however, coming in 11th on the chart in its 13th weekend of release. The Oscar-nominated doc nested in 123 theaters, taking in $390,278 for a $3,173 average. So far, the film has cumed more than $5.3 million.
Newmarket Films is also diving into serious box office depths with New Zealand feature "Whale Rider." The film came in ninth in the BOT, grossing just under $1.1 million on 271 screens. The film, directed by Niki Caro, spouted a per screen average of $4,020 in its sixth weekend of release, and has already totaled so far just over $5.8 million.
Matthew Barney's "The Cremaster Cycle" has shown continued box office virility. The film opened in Austin and Seattle over the weekend, and came in 12th on the chart after being at number 23 last week. The Palm Pictures release played three screens grossing $9,508 for a throbbing $3,169 average in tenth weekend of release. The cume stands at $322,176.
South by Southwest (SXSW) released its first film in Austin, TX over the weekend. The feature, Bob Odenkirk's "Melvin Goes to Dinner" which won the audience award at the festival, took in $2,243. SXSW will open the film at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Houston in August. SXSW rep Matt Dentler said the organization is working with Film Movement to screen "Manito" and "OT: Our Town" in the Texas capital, followed later with "Cinemania."
Next week, look for "The Anarchist Cookbook" and Stephen Frears' "Dirty Pretty Things." Also opening is Italian romantic comedy, "The Embalmer," Alex Proyas' "Garage Days," and "The Sea is Watching," based on the last remaining screenplay by the late Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.