Military actioner, 'Sam' strong in limited runs

Expectations are up for Sony’s “Black Hawk Down.”

For a second straight sesh, the military actioner grossed an estimated $50,000 from each of four theaters in L.A. and Gotham. Directed by Ridley Scott and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, nonfiction tale has been generating Oscar-nom talk as it prepares for a Friday expansion into another 10-15 theaters and a Jan. 15 release at saturation level. So far, “Black Hawk” has a cume of $566,000.

New Line’s Sean Penn/Michelle Pfeiffer starrer “I Am Sam” is similarly trying to build by word-of-mouth from a well-received limited release. Family drama’s single L.A. engagement grossed an estimated $27,000 this weekend, with “Sam” set to unspool wide Jan. 25.

Most of the other current limited players are aimed primarily at the arthouse crowd and will get to wide release only when crossover potential is clear. But USA Films’ “Gosford Park” is already showing just such tendencies.

Robert Altman’s period drama grossed $1.5 million from 131 venues this weekend, or a notable $11,687 per location. “Gosford” parks in more than 500 theaters on Friday.

Likewise, Lions Gate’s “Monster’s Ball” grossed $140,000 from only eight Gotham and L.A. playdates for an impressive $17,500 average.

“The grosses are up across the board this weekend, and that’s without benefit of television spots,” Lions Gate distrib boss Tom Ortenberg enthused. “This has been all word-of-mouth.”

TV campaign kicks in Tuesday for “Monster’s Ball,” which has a cume of $393,000 to date. Billy Bob Thornton/Halle Berry starrer gets a couple small expansions en route to an anticipated 500-engagement run beginning Feb. 8.

Miramax’s “In the Bedroom” rolled up $1.7 million in expanding 104 theaters to 207. That $8,200 per-venue average brought Sissy Spacek starrer’s cume to $4.3 million.

Distrib’s “The Shipping News” boasts an identical cume after floating to $1.2 million in 213 locations, 27 more than previously. Perf repped a sturdy $5,600 per playdate.

Warner Bros.’ WWII drama “Charlotte Gray” was again in five locations and grossed $40,189, or $8,038 per site, prior to a 45-engagement expansion next weekend.

Miramax’s French-language “Amelie” shed five theaters at 227 but managed an estimated $1.1 million, or $4,625 per venue.

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