By Indiewire | Indiewire April 28, 2004 at 2:00AM
"Twilight Samurai" Illuminates the B.O.; "The Agronomist" Debuts Strongly in New York
by Brian Brooks
"Twilight Samurai" dawned atop the specialty box office on its opening weekend in one theater, narrowly out-dueling IFC Films' "This So-Called Disaster," which took the second placement on the iW: BOT as calculated by per screen average. "The Agronomist" debuted in seven New York and Los Angeles locations as well, while Miramax's "I'm Not Scared" remained strong in expansion its third weekend in theaters.
The final confirmed figures published in the iW: BOT include 70 titles tracked for the weekend, up from 65 last week, while 3,444 sites were devoted to 'indie' titles, a decline from 3,911 previously. Overall, the specialty box office came in at $3.95 million, a 31% decline from the $5.7 million take in the prior period, while "The Passion of the Christ" represented over $2.2 million of that total. Excluding "The Passion," the indie gross is about $1.74 million, a number that's roughly even with last week.
Two films opened in one theater each, topping the iW BOT over the weekend. Empire Pictures debuted "Twilight Samurai" taking in $8,573, unseating last week's number one film, "I'm Not Scared." IFC Films, meanwhile opened "This So-Called Disaster" grossing a triumphant $8,435 and a second rank finish for the film for the week.
"I'm Not Scared", which was number one for two weeks, fell to third place in terms of per screen average, but the film still performed admirably as Miramax added 25 engagements. Over the weekend, "I'm Not Scared" grossed $133,091 for a $4,436 average in its third weekend in release. To date, the film has cumed a brave $258,576.
ThinkFilm unleashed "The Agronomist" in seven venues in the top two markets, grossing $30,855 for a $4,408 average and a fourth position on the chart. ThinkFilm head Mark Urman commented to indieWIRE yesterday that the film performed disproportionately better in New York and wondered about L.A.'s relevance as an art film market.
"NY is a fine market for specialized films and we had some very strong shows, even sell-outs [but] L.A. is another matter," Urman told indieWIRE by email. "We were in first place in Santa Monica, where all the liberals live, but at a fairly uninteresting gross. Sometimes I wonder how the theaters out there can afford to even turn on the electricity. In any event, we no longer think of L.A. as a top art market. It's just another regional town, like Detroit, with palm trees."
Urman went on to praise the film's reviews and said he was "thrilled" with the emotional response audiences had with the feature, despite its difficult subject matter. "The film is political, it deals with another country's problems at a time when we have enough of our own, and its hero is dead! I was not sure people would care or come, but they did." Mature audiences and "people who read" were a big part of the audiences turning out for the film in addition to a sizeable number of students Urman indicated. The film will open in several venues in the coming weeks. "'The Agronomist' will be seen everywhere," Urman told iW yesterday.
In other spotlighted film grosses, Emerging Pictures' "This Old Cub" returned to the top five on the chart taking in $16,272 at four sites for a $4,068 average. Since its release five weeks ago, the film has earned $120,000.
Sony Classics' "Young Adam" added three screens taking in $45,174. The film averaged $3,765, down from $5,586 after its theatrical debut last week. The NC-17 pic has cumed $121,004. The company's "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring" added 17 sites grossing $109,040 for a $3,635 per screen average, down from $5,099 one week ago. Its one-month cume is now $340,802. "Good Bye, Lenin!" meanwhile took in $275,662 at 107 sites during its ninth weekend of release. The film averaged a still bountiful $2,576 and its cume is nearly $2.6 million.