"The Station Agent" Steam Rolls into the Box Office
by Brian Brooks
The story of a reclusive man who inherits an abandoned trains station in New Jersey became the biggest specialty release of the weekend, with "The Station Agent" arriving at number one in the iW BOT. The Yom Kippur holiday on Monday most likely hindered the usual reports of box office numbers, with some companies not sending in grosses. Lions Gate's "Wonderland" debuted as well, capturing the second spot, while "The Event" performed less well.
Miramax debuted Thomas McCarthy's "The Station Agent" on three screens over the weekend, grossing $57,785. The film, which received three awards at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival including the audience award for a dramatic feature, averaged $19,262. "We're absolutely thrilled," commented one of the film's producers, Kathryn Tucker in a short conversation by telephone with indieWIRE. She went on to say she was happy with the film's debut considering the film is not star-driven. Robert May, who works with Tucker at SenArt Films, and also a producer of the feature called it, "a film that needed to be discovered. It's an audience pleaser."
In New York, the film drew a mixed audience with older viewers at matinees at Lincoln Plaza uptown and strong numbers of hipsters at night at the Anjelika Film Center downtown. "Saturday, [the film] sold out all but two screenings at Lincoln Plaza," said Tucker, "the last one and the first of the day." Tucker went on to say that she credited the series of good reviews the film has received for its opening success. indieWIRE made calls Monday to Miramax in order to get information on "The Station Agent"'s future release plans, but could not reach anyone with that information due to the Jewish holiday.
Lions Gate opened James Cox's "Wonderland" starring Val Kilmner on five screens. The film ranked second on the iW: BOT, grossing $91,798 for an $18,360 per screen average.
Last week's number one specialty release, as measured by per screen average, "Yossi & Jagger" remained at the Film Forum in New York occupying third place. The Strand Releasing Israeli pic grossed $16,100 in its second weekend, and has a cume of $55,270. ThinkFilm, meanwhile, debuted "The Event" on nine screens grossing $19,206 for a quiet $2,134 per screen average.
New Yorker Films' doc "To Be and To Have" spent its third weekend at four sites, taking in $26,773 for a $6,693 average and a fifth place on the chart, down from fourth last week. So far the film has earned $105,041.
"City of God" remained a force at the box office in its 38th week out. The film, in one theater only, pulled in an additional $5,266 for a sixth place showing on the iW: BOT with an overall cume of just under $4.66 million.
Artistic License's "Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion" placed seventh, playing three screens taking in $16,052 ($5,351 average) and a total of $40,415.
Specialty box office smash "Lost in Translation" again expanded to 864 screens, up from 488 last week, grossing over $4.16 million for an average of $4,819 (down from $7,558 last weekend). The cume now stands at just under $14.02 million.
Fox Searchlight's "Le Divorce," meanwhile passed a box office milestone with a cume of just over $9 million on a weekend gross of $44,525 on 63 screens (a slight $707 per screen average) in its ninth weekend of release.
Next week, acclaimed Brazilian doc "Bus 174" opens by Jose Padilha and Felipe Lacerda as well as Mark Decena's "Dopamine," and Claude Chabrol's "The Flower of Evil," which is currently playing at the NYFF. Also opening in theaters is Clint Eastwood's NYFF opener "Mystic River," and Richard Day's "Girls will be Girls." The films will be competing with Quentin Tarantino's latest, "Kill Bill," which Miramax plans to release widely this weekend.