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iW BOT | “Noah’s Arc” Shocks Amid Batch of Strong Openers

iW BOT | "Noah's Arc" Shocks Amid Batch of Strong Openers

In a weekend that saw the release of Clint Eastwood‘s latest and the directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman, not to mention “High School Musical 3,” an underdog emerged as arguably the frame’s greatest success story. Patrik-Ian Polk‘s “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom,” the first film released through Logo‘s theatrical distribution arm, grossed an $151,681 on 5 screens for an astounding $30,336 average. Not that “Arc” was the only success story. “Changeling” marked one of Eastwood’s highest per-theatre-averages, “Synecdoche, New York” scored $172,194 from just 9 screens, and Tomas Alfredson‘s “Let The Right One In” looks to become a rare specialty horror hit.

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

“Noah’s Arc” Rivals Clint

A film adaptation of the hit Logo series, “Noah’s Arc: Jumping The Broom” opened on 5 screens, grossing $151,681, and averaging $30,336. That puts the film slightly below Eastwood’s “Changeling,” which averaged $32,601, but makes it the iW BOT topper as “Changeling”‘s release through Universal, and its very wide expansion next weekend make it ineligible for the chart. But it is fair to note here that “Changeling”‘s whopping average is Eastwood’s highest since “Mystic River” averaged $49,293 in 2003 (it even beat out “Million Dollar Baby‘s $22,494 average on 8 screens).

“Arc” is not without its own notable stats. Not only was its average among the five best specialty PTAs of 2008, it also is already 2008’s highest grossing narrative gay film overall. Previously, Regent Releasing‘s “Shelter” held that title, finding $142,666 this Spring.

“It’s a really phenomenal event,” Logo’s Steven Fisher told indieWIRE. “This is a testament to our strategy to appeal to niche audiences within the gay community with content that speaks to them.” The film version of “Noah’s Arc,” which features a cast of nearly all black, gay male characters, follows two seasons of the series.

The film performed best in New York (Chelsea), but also saw very strong showings in Atlanta (Landmark Midtown), and Washington, DC (E Street Cinema). “We had many, many sellouts,” Fisher said. As for the film’s expansion, Fisher said Logo is exploring that now. “We’re looking at that now, how to meet the demands,” he said.

Sony Classics Scores Two More

Sony Pictures Classics saw two films open this weekend, joining the continued success its “Rachel Getting Married” is enjoying on the specialty circuit. Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche New York,” starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Hope Davis and many others, opened on 9 screens this weekend and managed $172,194. Though potent, its $19,133 average was well below Kaufman’s previous high as a writer. “Adaptation” scored a massive $54,925 on 7 screens in 2002. Nonetheless, the number proves promising for the remarkably divisive film as it continues to expand.

Another Sony Classics release, Philippe Claudel‘s “I’ve Loved You So Long,” grossed $66,747 on 9 screens for a very good $8,023 average. The film, starring Kristin Scott Thomas in a role earning serious awards buzz, had previously opened in Quebec over a month ago and 3 of its tallied screens are there, which brings its overall average down significantly (its average in the U.S. only screens was over $11,000). Even with that taken into consideration, the opening did fall short of another Scott Thomas-in-French import, “Tell No One,” which averaged $21,213 from 8 runs in a much less crowded frame this July, on its way to over $5,000,000 in grosses.

Both films should aspire to Sony Classics’ enduring “Rachel Getting Married,” which expanded to 112 screens (from 69) this weekend, and managed to see its average drop minimally to $7,338. The film’s total now stands at $2,731,710 after four weekends, making it one of the season’s biggest success stories. The overall crown – “Noah’s Arc”‘s potential aside – might have to go to IDP/Samuel Goldwyn‘s “Fireproof,” though. Falling just 20% in its fifth weekend, the Kirk Cameron starrer has now grossed $23,627,556, officially taking out “The Care Bears Movie” as the distributor’s all-time highest grosser.

“Right One” Leads Horror Pics

Besting the per-theater-averages of both Lionsgate‘s “Saw V” (which averaged $9,822 from a mind you, incomparably huge 3,060 screens), and IFC Films‘ “Fear(s) of the Dark” (which took in $6,103 on one screen), Magnolia Pictures‘ “Let The Right One In” found excellent numbers this pre-Hallowe’en weekend. On four screens, the film grossed $49,295 for a $12,324 average.

“We’re very happy,” said Magnolia’s Eamonn Bowles. “Number one film at the Angelika and Sunset in Los Angeles by pretty wide margins. As great as the film is (and it is legitimately a great film), it’s a combination of film elements that has historically been a tough sell theatrically – horror elements, sophisticated cinematic style, grown up sensibilities with child protagonists, not to mention no recognizable actors or director and in Swedish. But it’s just so good that the buzz has been palpable.”

The film will continue to expand in the coming weeks. “[The] hardest hurdle with this film is to get it off the ground,” Bowles said. “We know that people love it, so we’re going to proceed slowly and give the word of mouth time to build. I fully expect to see it on many top ten lists at years end.”

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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