By Indiewire | Indiewire May 19, 2004 at 2:0AM
UA's "Coffee & Cigarettes" Debuts its Habit Atop the BOT
by Brian Brooks
Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee & Cigarettes" smoked up the box office over the weekend, amping up sizeable grosses in limited release. Also performing up to par was Wellspring's "Strayed," opening in two venues. "Super Size Me" mushroomed into well over a hundred outlets, maintaining a satisfying per screen average, while "Games People Play: New York" displayed its virility once again in the BOT.
IW BOT tracked 76 films this week, an increase of 12 with a slightly reduced overall take of $2.88 million, a decrease of $10,000 or about three per cent. The number of screens playing specialty titles, however, also decreased by 203.
Indie audiences were jonzing on "Coffee & Cigarettes" in exclusive engagements. The United Artists release grossed $99,162 on five screens for a healthy $19,832 per screen average.
"We are really very encouraged by the opening numbers for [the film], particularly in New York where the [grosses] were extremely solid," commented Erik Lomis, president of distribution for MGM and UA in comments to indieWIRE yesterday. "We attribute the audience interest first and foremost to Jim Jarmusch who has a real tangible fan base. Lomis also credited the wide-ranging cast for luring crowds to the cinema.
"Coffee & Cigarettes" will maintain its limited run going forward in the near future. "We will continue to release the film on an exclusive, limited basis reaching the top 75-100 markets," said Lomis. "We also might dip into the suburban markets to see how the film works there, but our main strategy is to play the core specialized art house runs."
Wellspring veered into the BOT in second place with "Strayed," which opened in two New York theaters. "Strayed" took in $19,531 for a per screen of $9,766. "We're happy the critical response was so positive," said Wellspring's head of distribution Ryan Werner to indieWIRE from Cannes earlier today. "Going forward, we're going to take advantage of the upcoming long [Memorial Day] weekend and open in the New York suburbs as well as Boston and Los Angeles." Werner said the blockbuster debut of "Troy" affected the performance of "Strayed" and the overall specialty box office. "'Troy' impacted our film [because] everyone went to see that movie. It crossed all audiences." Despite the "Troy" factor, "Strayed" drew respectable audiences across the board, "particularly strong at Lincoln Plaza [in New York]" according to Werner.
"Games People Play: New York" played a duo in its tenth weekend of release, taking in $13,831 for a per screen average of $6,916. The sexy film has cumed $111,336.
Last week's iW BOT topper "Super Size Me" franchised into 72 additional screens in its second weekend of release grossing a phat $759,182 for a per screen average of $6,718. The Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn Films release has gobbled up well over $1.5 million in two weeks.
Miramax added one engagement for its Argentine feature "Valentin," grossing $14,343. The film averaged $4,781 (a decrease of $2,243 from last week) and has cumed $35,429.
In other weekend openers, Palm Pictures debuted "Springtime in a Small Town" in two theaters grossing $$7,506 ($3,753 per screen average), while Sony Classics opened Hector Babenco's "Carandiru" at six sites taking in $17,945.
Coming up this weekend, Paramount Classics will debut Yann Samuell's "Love Me if You Dare," while First Run Features will open Rithy Panh's "S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine."