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by Peter Knegt
April 19, 2009 6:38 AM
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Weekend Estimates: "Little Step" Continues Doc Surge, "Sleep" Snoozes

A scene from James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo's "Every Little Step." Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon, Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern's ode to a "A Chorus Line," "Every Little Step," marked the fifth week in a row a doc topped the iW BOT (which ranks specialty films by their per-theater-average). Following "Valentino," "Enlighten Up" and last week's champ "Anvil! The Story of Anvil," Sony Pictures Classics' release of "Step" grossed $72,616 from 8 locations, for a $9,077 average. This was the highest average of any film reporting, including overall box office champ "17 Again," though it was also the lowest to lead the iW BOT in nearly two months (perhaps all typical specialty filmgoers were at home watching "Grey Gardens" on HBO).

Two other docs also posted good numbers - aforementioned holdovers "Anvil!" and "Valentino." In its second weekend, Abramorama Entertainment's "demi-gods of Canadian metal" doc "Anvil!" expanded from 3 to 6 screens and saw its average drop an expected 50%, grossing another $34,293 for a $5,716 average - the highest of any non-debut. Its gross now stands at $85,286. Truly Indie's exploration of a fashion icon "Valentino: The Last Emperor," in its fifth weekend, nearly doubled its screen count from 12 to 21 screens and saw a bigger hit to its PTA - actually dropping 15% in grosses despite the screen raise. But the film - 2009's highest grossing specialty doc by far - still managed a healthy $78,000 gross and $3,714 average, taking its total to $434,000 as it continues to expand.

The other reporting debuts included Story Island Entertainment's Michael Caine starrer "Is Anybody There?," which posted a decent $45,112 gross from 6 screens (averaging $7,519), IFC Films' "Lemon Tree," which grossed $14,400 on 2 screens (averaging $7,200), and IDP/Samuel Goldwyn Films's "American Violet," which due to its more aggressive 61 screen debut found perhaps the most impressive average, $4,215, grossing $257,114 overall.

Less impressive was the debut of Maya Releasing's 2008 Sundance favorite "Sleep Dealer," which grossed just $30,100 from 18 screens (maybe people were watching it on VOD?). Its $1,672 average, however, would have been a dream for the folks at Roadside Attractions, who saw their "The Golden Boys," starring David Carradine, Rip Torn and Mariel Hemingway open on 20 screens and manage an expectedly dismal $16,850 gross and $842 average.

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 be included in the indieWIRE Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday.

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