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    iW BOT: "The Queen" Reigns in NYC Opening, "Last King," "Latin Legends" and "Saints" Debut Strong

    Queens, kings, saints and Jesus: Movies with titles naming powerful figures both secular and religious did well last weekend, according to the latest indieWIRE Box Office Tracking report (iWBOT) of independent/specialty films. Miramax Films' "The Queen," directed by Stephen Frears and starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II responding to Princess Diana's death in 1997, finished first with a spectacular weekend per-site average of $40,671 from three Manhattan theaters. Close behind was Fox Searchlight's "Last King of Scotland," starring Forest Whitaker as Uganda's charming but psychotic despot Idi Amin. Kevin Macdonald's film averaged $35,...

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    Paramount Vantage Gets "Details"

    Paramount Vantage has announced a pre-emptive purchase of Dan Kay's horror script, "Details." Based on a short story by China Mieville and centering around the psychological phenomenon pareidolia, the script is described as telling, "the terrifying story of a daughter who disappears after having uncovered a demonic force only she can see and the father who stops at nothing to bring her back." Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions will produce the film, with Steven Schneider and Ian Levy serving as executive producers. According to the announcement, Vantage's EVP of Production and Acquisitions Amy Israel; VP of Production Chad Hamilton and Creat...

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    New Yorker Gets Sissako's "Bamako"

    New Yorker Films has announced its acquisition of Abderrahmane Sissako's "Bamako," which is screening early next week at the New York Film Festival. The film, which has already screened at the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals, will be released in Februrary 2007. Described as, "The intimate personal story of an African couple on the verge of breaking up is told alongside very public political proceedings. The country’s civil society is taking action against the international financial institutions whom they directly blame for Africa’s woes." It was executive produced by Danny Glover and Joslyn Barnes of Louverture Films, who will join the dir...

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    "Science of Sleep," "American Hardcore" and "Old Joy" Sing a Blissful Box office Tune

    Three stylistically different films that all at least partially attracted pop-music lovers had strong finishes in this week's indieWire Box Office Tracking Report (iWBOT) of independent/specialty films. Warner Independent Picture's launch of music-video auteur Michel Gondry's fanciful "The Science of Sleep" finished first with a $24,852 per-theater average last weekend at 14 locations; Sony Pictures Classics' debut of Paul Rachman's "American Hardcore" documentary about American punk in the 1980s earned $18,102 at New York's Angelika Film Center for second place; and Kino Releasing's New York opening of Kelly Reichardt's "Old Joy" featuring s...

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    ThinkFilm Gets French Oscar Entry

    ThinkFilm has announced a deal for U.S. rights to "Orchestra Seats" ("Fauteuils D'Orchestre"), France's Oscar foreign language film entry which has been re-titled "Avenue Montaigne." Set for a February 2007 release, the film was directed by Daniele Thompson ("La Buche," "Jet Lag") and co-written by the filmmaker and her sonChristopher Thompson. It is described as the story of a woman from the French provinces (played by Cecile de France) who moves to Paris and becomes a waitress on the city's famous fashion boulevard, Avenue Montaigne. Her customers include a number of notable individuals, but according to an announcement, "Precisely because ...

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    Koch Lorber Picks up Tribeca '06 Winner "Blessed by Fire"

    Koch Lorber has picked up North American theatrical and video rights to Tristan Bauer's "Blessed by Fire" (Illuminados por el fuego), the company announced Friday. The film, which won the Founders Award for best narrative feature at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival as well as the Spanish Goya for best foreign film, is the first Argentine feature dealing directly with the Falkland Islands war legacy by exposing the scars caused by the early '80s conflict with the U.K. "Blessed by Fire" was picked up in a deal with Spanish sales group Latido. Koch Lorber plans additional dates on the festival circuit followed by a second quarter '07 release. "Thi...

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    MGM Gets "Pleasure of Your Company"

    MGM has announced a deal for North American rights to Michael Ian Black's romantic comedy "The Pleasure of Your Company," following the film's recent screening at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. The company is planning a wide release of the film. Financed by GreeneStreet Films, the movie was also produced by Fugitive Films. The film, starring Jason Biggs and Isla Fisher, also features Edward Herrmann, Joe Pantoliano, Joanna Gleason, Margo Martindale and Rob Corddry. It was executive produced by Fisher Stevens, Bruna Papandrea and Tim Williams and produced by John Penotti, Jamie Gordon, Sam Hoffman, and Courtney Potts. Jonathan B...

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    Sony Classics Announces "Black Book" Deal

    Sony Pictures Classics has announced a deal for all North American, Australia/New Zealand and India rights to Paul Verhoven's "Black Book" (Zwartboek), the Dutch entry for the 2006 foreign langage Academy Award. The film recently screened at the Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto Int...

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    "Jesus Camp" Slow in Middle America Debut; "Keeping Mum" and "U.S. vs. John Lennon" Solid

    Two new films - ThinkFilm's "Keeping Mum" and Lionsgate's "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" - and one holdover, Films Philos' much-praised "Man Push Cart," all had low-five-figure per-screen averages to rank 1-2-3 on this week's indieWIRE Box Office Tracking Report (iWBOT) of independent/specialty films in release last weekend. And Balcony Releasing's "Al Franken: And God Spoke" finished sixth by averaging $5,267 over the weekend during its debut at two New York theaters. It had opened on a Wednesday. But the biggest story was about a new film that flopped and the reasons behind it. Magnolia Pictures chose to open "Jesus Camp," a documentary about c...

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    IFC Shift Leads to Deal for Dahl Film

    At IFC Entertainment, the company has announced a preemptive North American deal for John Dahl's new film "You Kill Me," a mob comedy currently in post. The pact for a high profile new movie marks a shift for IFC Films, which will now distinguish itself from its sibling IFC First Take label which re...

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