By Indiewire | Indiewire October 28, 2003 at 2:00AM
Van Sant's Palme d'Or winner "Elephant" Tops BOT
by Brian Brooks
Cannes Palme d'Or winner "Elephant" stampeded its way to the top of the iW:BOT over the weekend while last week's number one, "Sylvia," added screens and took the third place on the chart. UA's "Pieces of April" climbed a notch to second place, also opening new runs. "The Station Agent" meanwhile added screens and managed a larger per screen average than the previous week.
Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" overtook the peak spot on the iW:BOT as measured by per screen average over the weekend, opening in six theaters and grossing $93,356 for a very solid $15,559 average. The film, which won the Palme d'Or as well as the best director prize for Van Sant earlier this year in Cannes, is a fictional account of a Columbine-esque school shooting.
"We're ecstatic with the opening," commented Dennis O'Connor, head of domestic theatrical releasing for HBO Films in a conversation with indieWIRE Monday afternoon. "To do this level of business with a nation occupied with their favorite pasttime (the World Series) bodes well for the film." O'Connor credited the "incredibly positive" reviews for the film's success and boasted that "Elephant" made over $41,000 at the Angelika in downtown Manhattan.
"The World Series was a big factor, and bad weather (in New York) made the opening all the more gratifying." "Elephant" is the second release from HBO Films/Fine Line after the "American Splendor" earlier this year. That film has earned more than $5.7 million in the U.S. and Canada.
O'Connor indicated that audiences at the Angelika were typically a "younger, hipper" crowd and that overall the film's audiences were skewed towards the 25-40 crowd, although certainly not exclusively so. Next week, the film will not expand much, but will open in the top ten to fifteen markets on November 7th and 14th.
Peter Hedges' "Pieces of April" added 29 screens for a total of 35 for week two of its run, grossing $185,654. The film averaged $5,304 (against $8,070 opening weekend) for a total cume of $254,898 and a second place showing on the chart.
Focus Features' "Sylvia" by Christine Jeffs took the third spot on the chart for week two. The film screened in 32 sites (up from three opening weekend) taking in $159,286 for a $4,978 average. "Sylvia," starring Gwyneth Paltrow has cumed $247,486.
"The Station Agent" jumped during its fourth weekend out, adding eight screens for a total of 58 taking in $260,634 for an average of $4,494 compared with the previous weekend's $4,423 average. The Miramax release has totaled $748,617 so far.
Strand Releasing's Israeli feature "Yossi & Jagger" screened in four venues, up from only one, grossing $14,977 ($3,744 average) for week five of release. The film has cumed $101,547.
In B.O. milestones, Samuel Goldwyn/Equinoxe Filmms' release of "Mambo Italiano" finished the weekend just shy of $6 million on a $97,511 gross in the U.S. and Canada. The film played 67 screens and averaged $1,455. Strand Releasing's "Party Monster" passed the $600K mark in its ninth weekend of release, grossing $15,966 in 11 theaters ($1,451 average).
Next weekend, Mark Rucker's "Die Mommie Die" concludes the Sundance Film Series, while Liz Garbus' "Girlhood" will also debut. Also in theaters is Robert Benton's "The Human Stain" from Miramax and Billy Ray's "Shattered Glass" from Lions Gate, along with John Hancock's "Suspended Animation."