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iW BOT | Perfect Manhattan: Wes Anderson Fans Swarm NY Theaters for “Darjeeling Limited”; Focus Feat

iW BOT | Perfect Manhattan: Wes Anderson Fans Swarm NY Theaters for "Darjeeling Limited"; Focus Feat

An out-of-this-world, two-day gross of $134,938 from two New York locations made Wes Anderson‘s sibling comedy “The Darjeeling Limited” the top film on the iWBOT and the top two-day debut of 2007. “Darjeeling Limited” was also Fox Searchlight‘s best exclusive opening since its 2005 Woody Allen release “Melinda and Melinda.” Focus Features shattered the NC-17 Rating ceiling with debut earnings of $63,918 at New York’s Lincoln Plaza Cinemas for Ang Lee‘s Shanghai- set drama “Lust, Caution.” With debut earnings just behind “Darjeeling Limited,” Ang Lee’s World War II era spy drama earned the number two spot on the iWBOT, which ranks films by per-screen average. Rounding out the iWBOT Top Five were holdovers “Into the Wild,” “Romance & Cigarettes” and new release “Itty Bitty Titty Committee.”

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

Playing only two days in a pair of Manhattan theaters, the AMC-Loews Lincoln Square and the Regal Cinemas Union Square, director Wes Anderson’s latest comedy, “The Darjeeling Limited,” starring Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman as three estranged brothers traveling through India, earned $134,938. “Darjeeling Limited’s” $67,469 per-screen averageranked just below Michael Moore‘s healthcare documentary “Sicko” as the top exclusive debut of 2007, although the Wes Anderson comedy only played two days in theaters after opening the New York Film Festival Sept. 28. “We sold out all shows by noon at Lincoln Square and at Union Square we experienced sell-outs all day long,” said Sheila Deloach, Senior Vice President Distribution at Fox Searchlight Pictures. “People were lining up at both theaters and it was very exciting to watch them come out in droves and embrace Wes Anderson’s new film.” “Darjeeling Limited” expands Friday to six additional cities and continues to expand throughout October, reaching its widest release Oct. 25.

With “Lust, Caution,” director Ang Lee’s plush adaptation of Eileen Chang‘s short story about love and betrayal in World War II Shanghai, Focus Feature broke records with the highest per-screen debut for a NC-17 Rated film. The period drama earned $63,918 from its exclusive debut at New York’s Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, said Jack Foley, President, Theatrical Distribution at Focus Features. “I think this debut says that grown ups will make mature decisions regarding art and culture, NC-17 Rating or not,” said Foley. “People came out to see a piece of art by Ang Lee.” Every show but the morning matinees sold at Lincoln Plaza, allowing “Lust, Caution” to outdistance the previous NC-17 record holder, John Waters‘ 2004 comedy “A Dirty Shame,” despite its 158-minute running time. “We’re in the same zone as other outstanding debuts of live-action dramas like “Melinda and Melinda,” “The Crucible” and “Zelig” but the significant difference is that our movie has twice the running time of “Zelig,” said Foley. Focus Features expands “Lust, Caution” in New York and opens in eleven new markets Friday including Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. “We want to keep the release tight,” said Foley. “We want to control the supply and demand by opening exclusively in all but two of the markets. We want to make it eventful.”

“Into the Wild,” filmmaker Sean Penn‘s adaptation of the Jon Krakauer novel for Paramount Vantage, earned $631,451 from 33 venues. Its sophomore frame per-screen average was $20,272, a 60% drop from its four-screen debut but still good enough for the third spot on the iWBOT. After two weeks, “Into the Wild’s” cumulative box office hit just below one million; already surpassing the total domestic take for Paramount Vantage’s previous release, the nature documentary “Arctic Tale.” Paramount Vantage continues to expand “Into the Wild” Friday.

Holding strong at New York’s Film Forum was the self-release “Romance & Cigarettes,” actor-turned-filmmaker John Turturro‘s working-class musical starring James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet as Queens neighbors. “Romance & Cigarattes,” earned $10.066, retaining 100% of its audience. With a cumulative box office of $72,136, “Romance & Cigarettes” has proven itself to be a film that should not have been dropped by its distributor.

Modest debuts included Mitropoulos Films‘ “The Price of Sugar,” director Bill Haney‘s documentary about a Spanish priest’s attempts to organize poor Haitians who harvest Sugar Cane for Dominican Republic farms. “Price of Sugar” earned $3,384 from its exclusive debut at New York’s Cinema Village. “Price of Sugar” continues at the Cinema Village and expands to Los Angeles Oct. 19. From Shadowcatcher and Lantern Lane Entertainment, director John Jeffcoat‘s comedy “Outsourced,” about a young salesman sent to Mumbai to train Indian call center workers, earned $32,227 from eight screens. Its per-screen average of $4028 placed “Outsourced” in the seventh spot on the iWBOT. “Banished,” director Marco Williams’ self-released documentary about three communities in post-Civil War America that expelled all African- American citizens, earned $4,790 at the Film Forum. The weakest debut was director Marco Kreuzpainter‘s sex slave drama “Trade,” for Roadside Attractions. “Trade” earned $118,086 from 90 locations. Its pultry $1,312 per-screen average failed to break into the iWBOT Top 25.

More successful was “Itty Bitty Titty Committee,” director Jamie Babbit‘s female ensemble drama for Power Up and Pocket Releasing. “Itty Bitty Titty Committee” earned $11,505 at the Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in Los Angeles. Boosted by weekend-long appearances by Babbit and her cast, “Itty Bitty Titty Committee” reached the number four spot on the iWBOT.

Another female drama, Sony Pictures Classics‘ “The Jane Austen Book Club” earned $192,719 from 41 screens. Its $4,700 per-screen average was a modest 25% drop from the previous weekend, likely leading to a much more optimistic outlook than one might have thought last weekend. The film expands significantly next weekend.

Returning to the IWBOT Top Ten was “The Nines,” screenwriter-turned- filmmaker John August‘s fantasy starring Ryan Reynolds as three similar characters in multiple stories. “The Nines” earned $6,027 at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX.

New releases include director Tony Kaye‘s black-and-white abortion rights documentary “Lake of Fire,” featuring 15 years of footage ofpro-choice and pro-life supporters. THINK Film opens the film Wednesday at the Film Forum. “The Good Night,” director Jake Paltrow‘s comedy for the Yari Film Group, opens Friday. Director Ami Bar-Lev‘s documentary “My Kid Could Paint That,” about child art prodigy Marla Olmstead, also opens Friday via Sony Classics.

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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