By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 29, 2009 at 4:33AM
According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon, Ramin Bahrani's "Goodbye Solo" has rode its significant critical acclaim to a promising opening weekend. The Roadside Attractions release grossed $40,540 from three screens in New York and Chicago, averaging a strong $13,413. That's on par with last weekend's openings of "Hunger" and "Sin Nombre," both of which averaged just over $13,000, and bodes well for "Solo"'s expansion within New York and Chicago on April 3rd and in new markets on April 10th.
"We're really happy with the opening weekend for Goodbye Solo," Howard Cohen, co-president of Roadside Attractions, told indieWIRE. "We opened NY and Chicago first because we knew that A.O. Scott and Roger Ebert both loved the film, and that strategy paid off. The film has the best reviews of the year to date. It's good to know you can open a classic indie art film solely on the strength of good reviews. We'll be gradually adding markets and screens over the next few weeks, letting it grow organically."
"Solo" marks a substantial improvement over the performance of Bahrani's last film, "Chop Shop," which opened on one screen last February to a $8,475 average. That film's final domestic gross was $125,045.
Last weekend's top per-theater-average belonged to Matt Tyrnauer’s “Valentino: The Last Emperor," a doc on legendary designer Valentino Garavani. The film grossed some of the highest numbers in New York's Film Forum history, and it continued to bring in great numbers in its sophomore frame. "Valentino," released independently through Truly Indie, grossed $30,034 from two screens in New York and Chicago, averaging $15,017 (higher than any reporting film - including overall box office topper "Monsters Vs. Aliens"). That brings the film's total to $88,401 as it heads to Los Angeles and San Francisco next weekend.
Also finding a nice second frame was Cary Joji Fukunaga's "Sin Nombre." The Focus Features release held steady at 6 theaters, but dropped just 16%. Its $68,512 gross was good enough for a $11,419 average. It's total now stands at $184,219 as it heads into a big expansion weekend on April 3rd. It should only be so lucky to find the numbers that have been meeting Overture Films' "Sunshine Cleaning" expansion, which went to 167 theaters (up 103) in its third weekend. The Amy Adams-Emily Blunt starrer grossed $1,344,000 for a potent $8,048 average. That brings the film's total to $2,547,697, with an aggressive expansion to 500 theaters planned for next weekend. The film is actually tracking ahead of Overture Films' big 2008 Spring hit, "The Visitor," which averaged $6,285 from 76 screens in its third weekend.
Not faring nearing as well were IFC Films' numbers for the second weekend of Steve McQueen's "Hunger." After grabbing a very good $13,838 from its one screen debut last weekend, an expansion to 5 theaters significant hurt the film, grossing only a slightly higher $16,000 in its second frame, for a disappointing $3,200 average.
Other reporting openers this weekend included Magnolia Pictures' release of Jon Hart and Matthew Kaufman doc "American Swing," which took in an estimated $10,000 from one screen, and Music Box Films' debut of Emmanuel Mouret's "Shall We Kiss?," which grossed $30,984 from four screens for a $7,746 average.
Check back with indieWIRE for more information on this weekend's numbers, including the debut of "Guest of Cindy Sherman," which did not report to our server.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day each Monday.