By Peter Knegt | Indiewire February 8, 2009 at 6:3AM
Sony Pictures Classics' officially has another foreign language hit on its hands, according to estimates provided this afternoon by Rentrak. Laurent Cantet's Academy Award nominated "The Class" managed to improve in its sophomore weekend, adding only 2 screens but seeing its gross improve by nearly 24%. The film, which had an Academy qualifying run back in December, managed $192,367 on 27 screens for an iW BOT (which measures based on per-theater-average) topping PTA of $7,125. "The Class"'s total now stands at an impressive $588,000.
Sony Classics' other foreign language Oscar contender also managed to find a spot in the iW BOT top five (at least according to Rentrak's estimates, as many smaller independent films - including last week's #1, "Medicine For Melancholy" - did not report.. check back with indieWIRE for updated numbers). Ari Folman's "Waltz With Bashir," which won a WGA award last night, grossed another $145,802 from 46 screens, averaging $3,170 and bringing its total to $1,208,000 after seven weeks of release.
Once again, the only Oscar contenders beyond the foreign-language nominees to really show significant box office strength this weekend were a pair of Fox Searchlight releases, Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" and Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler." On 1,724 screens, "Slumdog" fell just 3% in its thirteenth weekend out, adding another $7,400,000 to its total (which now stands at $77,425,785, surpassing last year's best picture winner "No Country For Old Men"). "The Wrestler" fell almost the same amount in its eight weekend out, grossing $2,230,000 on 756 screens. Mickey Rourke's Oscar hope has now grossed $16,193,233.
Despite having the benefit of a supposedly prestigious best picture nomination, two films that have been in release much longer than the relatively unrewarded "Wrestler" have less total grosses. Stephen Daldry's "The Reader" stands at only $16,058,000 after nine weekends out, though it did finally show some sort of financial strength this weekend. The Weinstein Company's surprise contender fell only 3.4% despite losing 140 screens, grossing another $2,300,000. Not as lucky was Universal's "Frost/Nixon," which is likely to hold on to its status as the second lowest grossing best picture nominee of the past decade (after "Letters From Iwo Jima"). It lost 46% of its grosses in its tenth weekend out, finding just $752,850 on 481 screens for a weak $1,565 average. The Ron Howard pic's cume now stands at $15,631,976, which also makes it Howard's lowest grossing film as a director (unless it can catch up with "Night Shift" and "EDtv," both of which grossed around $22,000,000).
The weekend's top limited debut isn't likely to even manage "Nixon"-sized numbers. The Weinstein Company's "Fanboys," released through its underperforming Third Rail Releasing arm, grossed $164,000 from 44 screens. Its $3,727 was certainly not a disaster (and among Third Rail's best debuts), but is certainly (though expectedly) a disappointment considering the buzz that once surrounded the picture.
Not eligible for the iW BOT due to its wide release, but perhaps the specialty division story of the weekend, was Focus Features' "Coraline." On 2,298 screens, the stop-motion 3D "Coraline" grossed a fantastic $16,334,613, essentially doubling industry expectations and outgrossing fellow family-film opener "Pink Panther 2." The film, which was very well received by critics, had the third highest opening for a stop-motion feature (behind "The Corpse Bride" and "Chicken Run," though "Coraline"s smaller screen count actually gave it a higher PTA than both those films), and is Focus Features' second highest wide opening after "Burn After Reading."
Nearly 60% of "Coraline"'s box office came from RealD's 3D screens. "We're proud of the great opening weekend that Focus had with Coraline," said Michael Lewis, chairman and CEO of RealD. "With 3D screens outperforming 2D screens about 3:1, it's clear once again that audiences appreciate seeing fantastic worlds brought to life in ways only possible in RealD 3D."
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 email@example.com by the end of the day each Monday.