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iW BOT | Box-Office Tsunami: Audiences Flood Theaters for Nautical Doc “Deep Water”; “Manda Bala” St

iW BOT | Box-Office Tsunami: Audiences Flood Theaters for Nautical Doc "Deep Water"; "Manda Bala" St

Weekend earnings of $22,632 shot the documentary “Deep Water” to the front of the iWBOT, as well as the top, per-screen, documentary debut for IFC Films since their 2006 release “Wordplay.” Large crowds at New York’s IFC Film Center pushed director Joe Swanberg‘s youth romance “Hannah Takes the Stairs,” an IFC First Take release, to the number six ranking on the iWBOT, which lists films by per-screen average. Close behind “Deep Water” was City Lights Pictures‘ Brazilian documentary “Manda Bala,” which earned $8,140 in its second weekend at New York’s Angelica Film Center. Both “Deep Water” and “Hannah Takes the Stairs” out-performed THINK Film‘s “The Hottest State,” filmmaker/actor Ethan Hawke‘s drama about young love in New York, which earned a moderate $8,545 at three locations, failing to crack the iWBOT Top Ten. Holdover “2 Days in Paris,” a reissue of “Metropolis” at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre and the Weinstein Company comedy “Dedication” rounded out the iWBOT Top Five.

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

“Deep Water,” co-directors Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell‘s account of amateur yachtsman Donald Crowhurst‘s attempt to win a 1969 around-the-world boat race, earned $22,632 from the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles and New York’s Angelika Film Center. With a per-screen average of $11,316, “Deep Water” topped the iWBOT and was IFC Films’ top documentary debut since last summer’s Wordplay.”

“I think Deep Water tells a very intriguing story which hit a chord with moviegoers this weekend,” said Mark Boxer, VP Sales and Distribution for IFC. “The incredible, true story has received wonderful reviews and we are thrilled about the opening weekend numbers.” While “Deep Water” failed to equal the per-screen debuts of recent political docs “No End In Sight,” “Sicko” and “The 11th Hour,” it did match the opening of another real-life, human drama, director Seth Gordon‘s tale of dueling arcade players, “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.” “Deep Water” expands to the top twenty markets throughout September.

IFC First Take’s youth romance “Hannah Takes the Stairs,” earned $5,901 at New York’s IFC Film Center, good enough for the number six spot on the iWBOT. Director Joe Swanberg’s intimate film, part of the IFC Center’s “The New Talkies: Generation DIY” series and the breakout feature of the much-talked-about “mumblecore” film movement, has earned $10,173 since its Aug. 22 opening. A hit at SXSW and other festivals, IFC slowly expands “Hannah” to other markets including Boston on Sept. 7.

The critical support for this emerging group of filmmakers has been tremendous,” Boxer said. “The IFC Center has been the perfect venue for the opening and we will expand the film to open in Los Angeles, Boston and others throughout September. The online grassroots marketing and the efforts of the filmmakers have bolstered the opening five day gross to over 10k.”

City Lights Pictures’ “Manda Bala” (translated from the Portuguese to “Send A Bullet”) dropped a modest 40% in per-screen average to $8,140. With $29,330 in cumulative box office from its exclusive run at New York’s Angelica, filmmaker Jason Kohn‘s debut film about crime and political corruption in present-day Brazil retained the number two spot on the iWBOT for the second week in a row.

Returning to the iWBOT Top Five was the complete version of Fritz Lang‘s 1927 epic fantasy “Metropolis,” released in a new 35mm print from Kino International. Playing exclusively at The Castro in San Francisco, “Metropolis” earned $6,039, approximately 15% less than its late July run at New York’s Film Forum.

Weinstein’s romantic comedy “Dedication,” from actor-turned director Justin Theroux, opened more modestly with a per-screen average of $5,958. “Right at Your Door,” Roadside Attractions‘ 2006 Sundance thriller about a nuclear explosion in Los Angeles, fared disastrously, reaching a $1,623 per-screen average from twenty locations, failing to crack the iWBOT Top 25.

Despite the promotional involvement of producer/narrator Leonardo DiCaprio and extreme, cross-country weather conditions that highlighted its global-warming message, “The 11th Hour,” a cinematic call to arms for mankind to stop destroying the environment, plummeted 70% in per-screen average to $3,486 from twenty locations. In its sophomore week, “11th Hour” dropped to the 13th spot on the iWBOT after debuting as the per-screen leader. With cumulative box office at $150,000, the chance for co-directors Nadia Connors and Leila Connors Petersen‘s environmental documentary to match the $24 million domestic take of the similarly themed 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth” nosedived. “The 11th Hour” expands to seventy locations Friday.

Picturehouse’s video game documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” leapfrogged “11th Hour” with a per-screen average of $5,388, good enough for the number eight spot on the iWBOT. “King of Kong” also surpassed “11th Hour” in cumulative box office despite six fewer locations, with $155,146 in total box office after two weeks. “King of Kong” expands to four additional markets Friday.

The strongest holdover was French actress-turned-filmmaker Julie Delpy‘s relationship comedy “2 Days in Paris,” dropping just 30% for a $6,174 per-screen average from 75 locations. The sexy couples comedy from Samuel Goldwyn Films (in partnership with Red Envelope) surpassed the $1 million mark in cumulative box office; catching up to another Paris-set comedy, IFC Film’s “My Best Friend.” “2 Days in Paris” expands to 100 locations Friday.

Chalk,” a documentary-like comedy about schoolteachers from Someday Soon Productions, returned to the iWBOT Top Ten. “Chalk” earned $5,700 from an exclusive run at the Sundance Cinemas in Madison, Wis. Its cumulative box office has grown to $208,302. Another successful holdover was Cinema Guild‘s “Primo Levi’s Journey,” which increased its audience by 13% despite dropping from five to four showings per day at New York’s Quad Cinema. “Primo Levi,” a documentary which retraces the scholar’s 1946 trip home to Italy after being liberated from Auschwitz, earned $3,566, good enough for the 11th spot on the iWBOT. ‘Primo Levi” holds at the Quad and opens in Los Angeles in October.

The champ of wide, specialty releases remained Miramax’s “Becoming Jane,” a period romance featuring Anne Hathaway as a young Jane Austen. In its fourth week of release, “Jane” achieved a $1,580 per-screen average from 1,210 screens, 75% higher than the summer’s other specialty powerhouse, Michael Moore‘s healthcare documentary “Sicko.” With a cumulative take of $12,991,000, “Jane” has become Miramax’s top-earning 2007 release.

Picturehouse’s coming-of-age comedy “Rocket Science” held steady in its third week; dropping just 30% in per-screen average to $1,998 from 59 locations. Ranked twenty-two on the iWBOT, “Rocket Science” has earned $389,261 in total box office. “Rocket Science” expands to seven additional markets Friday.

New specialty entries for the last weekend of summer include Newmarket‘s “The Nines,” veteran screenwriter John August‘s debut as a filmmaker; THINK Film’s drama “Self-Medicated,” about a 17-year-old drug addict sent to an extreme rehab facility; Emerging Pictures‘ Indian coming-of-age drama “Vanaja” and the grass-roots, three-city release of “A Man Named Pearl,” a festival favorite about a self-taught topiary artist.

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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