‘Others’ keeps on haunting

Kidman pic the only release to stay in top five for 8 weeks

NEW YORK — Several weeks into the fall movie season, a pic released back in mid-August is the most consistently strong grosser: Dimension Films’ “The Others.”

What’s more, the film has been released overseas only in Italy and Spain, leaving plenty of territories to exploit.

With a domestic cume of $86.7 million and climbing, “The Others” is the only release this year to stay in the top five at the B.O. for eight consecutive weeks. Last weekend’s official three-day tally was $4.8 million, down just 6% from the previous frame.

It’s the only movie this year to rise in the rankings in its seventh week. And its 64% drop over seven weeks is the lowest of any 2001 wide release.

“The Others” has performed sensationally in Spain, where already its $13 million-plus cume in three weeks of release makes it the second-highest grossing pic in the country’s history, behind only “Titanic.”

But stats tell only part of the story. The Alejandro Amenabar-helmed film starring Nicole Kidman continues to draw stellar word of mouth during a traditionally fallow B.O. period, and at a time when the movie business is puzzled by its own future in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It may be a beat early to say whether the film’s one-week spike during the weekend of Sept. 21-23, when it finished second overall, was due to shifts in release schedules for other pics or to something inherent in the film.

But Amenabar’s subtle filmmaking, where much of the violence is offscreen, may well be hitting the right tone for an audience looking to embrace a pic that’s not too difficult to stomach and which delights on multiple levels.

Couple this with Dimension’s marketing acumen: Dimension topper Bob Weinstein has carefully added a couple hundred screens each week, rather than foisting the pic whole-hog onto the marketplace. That has allowed word of mouth to build and audience curiosity to rise.

An increased TV presence has buttressed the rising screen count. As soon as the networks began airing advertisements again after terrorism coverage eased, spots for “The Others” seemed omnipresent.

Pumping ad coin

But Weinstein said the studio has been supporting the pic all along; what’s different is that Dimension is shelling out the same coin for TV and print ads, after seven weeks, as it had when the pic first opened.

“Though ‘The Others’ was successful its first couple of weeks, there were a lot of strong movies out there,” Weinstein said. “But we knew as the summer wore on there would be less and less competition. We thought, Let’s add screens as we go. The last couple of weeks, we started to see that people were looking for something to see. So, we spent a couple of million each week to support the movie.”

Factors in the movie’s success, he said, are “the marketplace, the movie’s uniqueness, the fact that we’re continuing to support the movie and Nicole’s performance.”

Spain’s buzz film

In Spain, Kidman’s promotional support of the pic, as well as a broad television campaign and the film’s originality, have turned “The Others” into the nation’s buzz film. (Spanish release was handled by Warner Sogefilms, the joint venture of Warner Bros. and Spanish distrib Sogepac.)

But the pic’s worldwide push has only just begun: StudioCanal is handling distrib rights in most of the world, including Italy (where it has already been released); FilmFixx has Japan and Korea (planning a Christmas bow); and Miramax controls English-speaking territories and Latin America, unspooling the film Nov. 2 in the U.K. and in Argentina and Brazil in October.

(John Hopewell in Spain contributed to this report.)

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