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Niche Pix Take Hold In B.O. Super Sesh

Some went with the flow, others got Bowled. But that’s par for the course whenever a major sporting event, like football’s Super Bowl on Jan. 29, takes center stage. Box office dipped about 18% from a week earlier – a decent hold in light of the absence of potent debut titles.

In a competitive environment that’s already cutthroat, certain specialized titles may have a slight advantage. Miramax’s four-page ad spread last month for the specialized “Ready to Wear (Pret-a-Porter)” in the New York Times made the industry take notice. And a week ago Disney did a two-page spread in the same publication for “Jefferson in Paris,” two months ahead of its release.

But it’s still a big gamble that only pays off when a picture can cross over to mainstream engagements. It’s the type of success that traditionally is earned via slow platforming, as with “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

The trio of last week’s freshmen speaks to both traditional and novel approaches of getting a toehold in the current glutted arena. The third installment of the theatrical “Highlander” held up well in terms of historic sequel dropoff. Comparing engagement averages, the new installment was off roughly one-third. But it also opened with about 600 more playdates. Miramax generated some $6.4 million, with an additional $550,000 coming from Canadian distrib and co-producer Malo Films.

Buena Vista, which usually avoids the exclusive route, waded in with two dates on the altar angst comedy “Miami Rhapsody.” The duo provided a potent $102,500.

Columbia and Castle Rock went the opposite direction with Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise,” a youth gabfest set in Vienna. Pic opened nationally with about 350 playdates, accentuating the film’s romantic nature and the heartthrob draw of Ethan Hawke. They boldly took out national TV spots and grossed $1.9 million, a solid but not breakthrough showing.

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