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iW BOT | “Sicko” Remains in Top Ten; SF Audiences Embrace “City Lights,” “Dynamite Warrior” Bombs

iW BOT | "Sicko" Remains in Top Ten; SF Audiences Embrace "City Lights," "Dynamite Warrior" Bombs

The race for documentary kingpin status is not between Michael Moore and Al Gore; star of last year’s specialty film hit “An Inconvenient Truth,” but between Moore and himself. It took the global warming film “An Inconvenient Truth” around six weeks to earn $11 million by early July 2006, a mark ‘Sicko” surpassed in just three weeks of release.

The iWBOT is based on per-theater averages reported by Rentrak Theatrical, the complete indieWIRE BOT weekly chart is available here at indieWIRE.com

“Sicko”, financed by The Weinstein Company with Lionsgate Films handling US distribution, remained the only specialty film in the overall top ten on post-Fourth of July weekend earnings of $3,600,179. After adding 261 screens for a total of 702 venues, “Sicko” dropped a modest 20% for a per-screen average of $5,128. Still, its per-screen average was strong enough for the rank of third highest of all releases, just behind “Live Free or Die Hard.” More importantly, “Sicko” remained the smallest release of all top ten box office performers.

How “Sicko,” Moore’s wisecracking healthcare documentary and the undisputed art-house hit of early summer 2007, will compare with the financial fortunes of his past films, “Bowling for Columbine” or “Fahrenheit 9/11,” remains to be seen. The question is whether “Sicko” has the staying power to retain its popularity and hot-topic status for weeks to come.

Joining the Independence Day rush was the family comedy “Introducing the Dwights” from Warner Independent Pictures, which earned $27,734 in weekend box office from four locations for a per-screen of $6,934 and a cumulative of $43,085. “Dwights” expands to 40 locations Friday including Boston and Chicago.

Just as robust was “Joshua,” Fox Searchlight‘s Sundance purchase, about successful New York parents who watch in horror as their eight- year-old prodigy turns into a bad seed. “Joshua” gathered a weekend box office of $51,233 and a per-screen average of $8,539 from six locations.

“Joshua” expands to top-performing venues including Chicago’s Century Centre and Boston’s Kendall Square Friday. The exclusive stand out was the Charlie Chaplin silent masterpiece “City Lights,” released in a new 35mm print from Kino International. “City Lights” earned $9.102 from an exclusive run at The Castro in San Francisco.

“It was nice to see The Castro performing up to expectations again,” said Mike Schmidt, Kino’s Assoc. Director of Theatrical Sales. “San Francisco is a market of sophisticated audiences. Debuting this new print of “City Lights” in San Francisco instead of New York was not part of some master plan on Kino’s part. It just happened that way but we’re very satisfied with the results.”

The restored print of “City Lights” opens in Chicago and Boston in August and comes to New York’s Film Forum at the end of the year. Werner Herzog‘s Vietnan War drama “Rescue Dawn,” enjoyed a fantastic Fourth of July debut with a sparkling $18,387 per-screen average from six locations. The MGM release earned $110,326, mostly from conventional multiplexes, but the film expands to top-performing art houses like Boston’s Kendall Square Friday.

Palm Pictures‘ “The Method,” about seven businessmen applying for one job at a mysterious corporation, opens modestly with a weekend total of $3,407 and a per-screen of $1,703 from two locations. “Dynamite Warrior,” an Asian action-fantasy from Magnolia Pictures, bombed, earning only $1,082 from three locations for a paltry $306 per-screen average.

The champion of classic reissues remained Rialto‘s “Le Doulos,” Jean-Pierre Melville 1962 police thriller in a new 35mm print. “Le Doulos” earn $10,346 at New York’s Film Forum; a box office increase of 10% as audiences anticipate the film’s closing Thursday.

Showing strong momentum was filmmaker Zoe Cassavetes‘ urban romance “Broken English,” featuring Parker Posey. “Broken English” earned $75,390 from 16 locations for Magnolia Pictures, an increase of 114% from last weekend for a cumulative take of $231,821 in its third week Kino International’s “Lady Chatterley,” a sexy adaptation of D.H. Lawrence‘s classic novel, earned $19,806 from 4 locations for a cumulative box office of $107,689 after three weeks. “Lady Chatterley” expands to key markets including Washington DC and Los Angeles Friday.

One of the largest box-office increases goes to John Dahl‘s hit-man comedy “You Kill Me” from IFC, which gained 24 venues for 63 total venues and a 61% jump in weekend box office for $246,501. Expanding to the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles, Zeitgeist Films‘ documentary “Manufactured Landscapes,” filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal‘s portrayal of photographer Edward Burtynsky on his visits to industrial locations in China, earned $12,412 for a per-screen of $4,137 from three locations. “Landscapes” has reached a cumulative take of $72,152 after three weeks.

Showing strong legs after five weeks in release, Picturehouse Films‘ French-language Edith Piaf drama “La Vie En Rose,” earned $608,884 in weekend box office from 162 locations, an increase of twenty screens “La Vie En Rose,” featuring Marion Cotillard as Piaf, has a cumulative box office over $6 million.

In terms of healthy roll outs “Gypsy Caravan,” from Shadow Releasing, added ten locations for a weekend box office of #34,953 from fourteen locations for a steady $2,496 per-screen average “Vitus,” Sony Pictures Classics‘ piano prodigy drama, added five locations and made $15,906 in weekend box office.

After losing momentum in its hometown market of San Francisco, Roadside Attractions‘ “Colma: The Musical,” director Richard Wong‘s post high school musical, expanded to New York’s Quad Cinema on Friday and earned $7,014 for a healthy per-screen average of $3,507 Fox Searchlight’s Dublin-set musical romance “Once,” gathered $439,648 from a gradual expansion strategy that has reached 132 screens. “Once” has a cumulative box office of $4,563,755after five weeks in release. ‘Once” continued to gather box-office steam, while Fox Searchlight’s “Waitress,” late filmmaker/actress Adrienne Shelly’s heartfelt drama about rural waitress looking to end her unhappy marriage, lost 87 screens and 18% in revenue for $387,020 in weekend box office.

Sophomore week stumbles included Kino International’s Korean/American coming-of-age drama “In Between Days” which earned $2,208 from its sole run at New York’s IFC Center; a revenue drop of 57% from its debut weekend.

Strand Releasing‘s “One to Another,” (“Chacon Sa Nuit“), directors Jean-Marc Barr and Pascal Arnold‘s drama set in provincial France, about the mysterious death of a teenage musician and the investigation undertaken by his sister, earned just $1,190 from its exclusive run at New York’s Quad Cinema; losing close to 70% of its attendance in its second week.

Providing alternatives to the Wednesday opening of Warner Bros. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” are IFC Films’ “My Best Friend,” Patrice Leconte‘s warm and witty comedy about an art dealer (Daniel Auteuil) who makes a bet that in ten days he can gain a best friend. “My Best Friend” opens at Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center in New York and The Landmark in Los Angeles.

Focus Features‘ “Talk to Me,” a drama about Washington D.C. radio personality Ralph “Petey” Greene (Don Cheadle), an ex-con who becomes a popular radio host in the 1960, opens on 31 screens. Kasi Lemmons directs.

For Sony Pictures Classics, Steve Buscemi directs “Interview,” his remake of deceased filmmaker Theo van Gogh‘s drama about a political journalist (Buscemi) who is forced to interview a pop star (Sienna Miller). “Interview” opens at The Landmark LA and the Lincoln Plaza and Sunshine cinemas in New York Friday.

Drama/Mex,” from IFC First Take, about a series of characters who meet over a hot day in Acapulco, opens exclusively at New York’s IFC Center.

A true rarity is a film whose creator is wishing for a poor turnout. That seems to be the case with the limited release of Yari Film Group‘s “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” shot in 2001 and recently re-titled “Shortcut to Happiness.” Based on the 1937 Stephen Vincent Benet short story about a down-and-out writer who sells his soul to the devil, director/actor Alec Baldwin is encouraging his fans to ignore the film. Which means that for the first time in Baldwin’s career, if a film flops, he’ll be happy.

Steve Ramos is a Cincinnati based writer.

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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