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by Eugene Hernandez
October 17, 2006 6:20 AM
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"The Queen" Continues U.S. Reign; "Sweet Land" Has Strong Midwest Launch

Miramax Films' release of "The Queen" remained atop the iW Bot specialty box office chart again this weekend, earning more than one million dollars in 46 locations, for a strong $22,228 per screen average in its third weekend in theaters. Bolstered by awards buzz surrounding lead Helen Mirren, the film has been met with solid reviews and receptive audiences so far. Of the higher-profile new films, however, Warner Independent's release of the other Truman Capote film, "Infamous," debuted to poor numbers, earning just $452,966 on 179 screens for a weak $2,531 average.

The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available here at indieWIRE.com

Frears' film, about the tug-of-war between the current Queen of England and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the days after the death of Princess Diana, will continue its steady roll-out to additional cities this weekend. Miramax expects to have the film on 84 U.S. screens this Friday and 15 in Canada, including themore spots in existing cities and a move to new markets Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Phoenix, Denver, and Seattle.

Ali Selim's "Sweet Land," which debuted at last year's Hamptons International Film Festival, got off to a good start on two screens in Minneapolis/St. Paul, earning $41,860, for a per screen average of $20,930. The turn-of-the-century love story, starring Elizabeth Reaser, Tim Guinee, Ned Beatty and Alan Cumming, was filmed in Southern Minnesota and will debut in New York City this weekend, one year after its Hamptons fest launch. Jeff Lipsky is handling the film's release and it will head to Boston (Nov 3), Los Angeles (Nov. 17), Chicago (Nov. 22), Portland (Dec. 22), and Cleveland (Dec. 22), as well as other U.S. cities across the country.

Doug McGrath's "Infamous," featuring Toby Jones as Truman Capote, faced an uphill battle in the wake of the success of last year's "Capote." Warner Independent bumped the release a year, but was still met with a tough challenge to market the movie. The company tried to notice some of the finer distinctions between "Infamous" and "Capote," even though both cover the exact same period in the writer's life.

"It doesn't serve anybody to try to out-'Capote' anybody," Warner Independent's head of marketing Laura Kim told the New York Times in an article this week. "We were very aware of not making it a competition between the two. Of course we have to acknowledge and understand 'Capote's' presence, but we are sort of going forward and banging ahead with what we have."

Amy Berg's "Deliver Us From Evil," a provocative documentary about abuse in the Roman Catholic church faced a tough opening, despite considerable national media attention in the United States due to the on screen allegations that U.S. Cardinal Roger Mahony failed to take action against film's subject, Oliver O'Grady, who admitted to molesting numerous children in California while a priest reporting to Mahony. The film made just $15,656 on four screens, for an unfortunate $3,914 per screen.

Finally, John Cameron Mitchell's "Shortbus," which made $196,988 on 25, for a $7,880 per screen average, will continue to expand this weekend. It has earned a respectable $395,577 so far, but this weekend would seem like an important test as it rolls out further.

Despite the success of "The Queen" in its expansion, ThinkFilm said it has seen strong grosses for its explicit new film in Boston and Washington D.C. and solid results from metropolitan markets including Atlanta, Dallas and Denver, but while numbers in suburbs have been decent, they have not been as strong as anticipated, according to ThinkFilm's Michael Tuckman. He added that the film will expand to another 20 markets this weekend to round out its top 30. ThinkFilm intends to hit the country's top 75 markets in coming weeks.

Among the new films set to debut this week in U.S. theaters are Doug Block's "51 Birch Street" from Truly Indie, Bobcat Goldthwait's "Sleeping Dogs Lie" from Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn Films, Maria Ramos' "Justice" from First Run/Icarus Films, Hans-Christian Schmid's "Requiem" from IFC First Take, and Mora Stephens' "Conventioneers" from Cinema Libre.

indieWIRE:BOT tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To submit information about your film to Rentrak, please email studiogrosses@rentrak.com

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