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Warner Independent Brings “Good Luck” to the Specialty Box Office; Goldwyn and Sony Score with “Squi

Warner Independent Brings "Good Luck" to the Specialty Box Office; Goldwyn and Sony Score with "Squi

Warner Independent Pictures‘ Toronto and New York film festivals’ feature “Good Night, and Good Luck” smoked up heavy box office returns over the weekend, earning the highest weekend screen average on the indieWIRE box office table’s listing of specialty releases since mid summer. Samuel Goldwyn Films/Sony Picture Releasing International‘s joint release of Sundance ’05 winner “The Squid and the Whale” also saw a triumphant release with a heavy screen average in its initial roll out, while Sony Pictures Classics‘ “Capote,” last weekend’s number one film on the chart as measured on a per screen basis, ranked third following an expansion. New Line‘s “A History of Violence” remained the chart’s biggest single earner for a third weekend, while Miramax‘s “Proof” calculated as the iW BOT’s second largest ticket pusher for the three-day Columbus Day weekend ending Sunday, October 9th.

[View the indieWIRE:BOT Box Office Table for this week’s films here.]

George Clooney‘s Venice opener “Good Night, and Good Luck” infiltrated the specialty box office over the weekend, grossing the highest screen average on the chart since THINKFilm‘s end-of-July opener “The Aristocrats,” which averaged $60,949 on four initial screens. The Warner Independent Pictures release easily took the premiere position on the chart with a $38,313 average on 11 screens, grossing $421,446.

“We’re all thrilled as [one] can imagine,” said Warner Independent Pictures EVP of marketing and publicity Laura Kim to indieWIRE via email Monday afternoon. “It’s not an easy movie in many ways, but it’s been really inspiring to work on a film that not only really makes you reach, but is personally rewarding too.” Kim said that she felt the film resonated with audiences today, although it recalls a dark period of American history in the mid-20th century. “It’s not only really entertaining, it is extremely timely without being heavy-handed. It’s a film that generates thought and discussion.” Warner Independent reached out to journalism groups and schools as well as media groups and civil liberties organizations to increase awareness of the film ahead of its theatrical debut, but also wanted the film to be accessible to all audiences. “[We] kept in mind that the film is for anyone, no matter what their politics are, that cares about truth in media and freedom of speech.”

Noah Baumbach‘s Sundance fav “The Squid and the Whale” placed second on the chart with a very impressive screen average, breaching to $32,461. The Samuel Goldwyn Films/Sony Picture Releasing International feature grossed $129,844 on four screens.

“We’re incredibly pleased,” said IDP president Michael Silberman by telephone to indieWIRE Tuesday afternoon (IDP handles Samuel Goldwyn releases). “The film is being recognized by both critics and audiences. We have had an overriding passion for the film and to [witness] its success is a great thing. After ‘living’ with the film for [many] months and seeing it embraced by audiences is incredibly rewarding.” Silberman credited the film’s initial success in part to a “really strong trailer and an aggressive Internet campaign.” When asked if he thought the Internet provided a useful medium for a marketing campaign, Silberman responded cautiously. “It’s still hard to quantify Internet campaigns, but it does raise awareness [yet] it’s hard to know if that translates into ticket sales,” he said adding, “although it’s hard to quantify with television as well.” Silberman said the group had purchased a “smattering” of television spots for the film as well ahead of its rollout.

“The Squid and the Whale” will debut on five screens in Los Angeles this Friday and will add two additional Manhattan runs. Additionally, the film will open at 18 suburban New York sites for a total of 22 screens in the New York City metropolitan area.

Last week’s number one film, “Capote” from Sony Pictures Classics added a dozen runs in its second weekend, taking in $395,724 from 24 screens. The film, directed by Bennett Miller, averaged $16,489, 39% lower than its initial $27,071 on 12 screens. “Capote” has cumed $887,531 in two weeks.

In other weekend specialty openers, Picture This! Entertainment‘s “Before the Fall” ranked fourth on the chart with $8,036 on one screen, while First Run Features‘ “Sacred Stage” also had one run, grossing $3,724. IFC Films‘ “CSA: Confederate States of America” debuted at two locations, taking in $5,706 ($2,853 average) and Kino International‘s “The Overture” also played a pair of screens, grossing $825 ($413 average).

For the first time since right after its June debut, “March of the Penguins” took in less than a half-million dollars last weekend, but the film will most likely remain the year’s biggest documentary earner. The doc’s 17-week cume is now almost $75.4 million. The year’s second highest grossing doc, “Mad Hot Ballroom” from Paramount Classics, meanwhile, overtook the $8 million threshold over the weekend, grossing $9,153 on 20 screens. The film had its initial release in May.

New Line‘s “A History of Violence” remained the chart’s single largest grossing title for a third week, taking in just over $5 million on 1,340 screens. The film averaged $3,781, 27% lower than the previous week’s $6,047 on the same number of screens. Miramax’s “Proof” engineered the chart’s second largest cash returns, taking in just under $1.5 million on 517 screens, averaging $2,867, or 40% below last week’s $6,047, although the film had added 277 runs for its second weekend.

By itself, “A History of Violence” represented about 51% of the entire iW BOT’s nearly $9.88 million combined gross representing 76 films on 4,025 screens. Combined with “Proof,” the two titles consumed two-thirds of the entire specialty returns. The iW BOT’s combined average for all 76 films fell 12% from the week prior to $2,455. Last week, 70 films took in just under $13.6 million on 4,856 screens for a $2,795 average.

Factoring out “Violence” and “Proof,” the remaining 74 films on this week’s chart took in just over $3.33 million on 2,168 screens, averaging 27% below the overall iW BOT average at $1,536. Industry-wide, 124 films grossed about $104.64 million on 41,224 screens averaging about $2,538 or 3% higher than the iW BOT average.

This week’s new releases include THINKFilm’s “Where the Truth Lies,” Magnolia Pictures‘ “Nine Lives,” Strand Releasing‘s “Loggerheads,” and BB Entertainment‘s “Innocent Voices.”

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