'Munich' making waves with auds

Though lighter fare and family viewing tend to dominate the holiday weekend, the specialty market did well with serious counter programming for adult auds.

“Munich” got off to a strong start on 532 screens, while “Brokeback Mountain” tripled its screen count to 217 — losing its status as a box office phenomenon but finding reasons for optimism as it moves slowly into the suburbs.

In just a handful of playdates, newcomers “The New World” and the French-language “Cache” (Hidden) bowed to hot grosses, while “Casanova,” on 37 screens, did decent numbers.

Steven Spielberg’s political drama “Munich” entered the chart in the No. 10 position despite its few playdates. Four-day gross was $5.7 million and three-day take was $4.1 million, with a three-day average of $7,706.

Pic so far is drawing heavily on political and history junkies, with more than 80% of the aud indicating their top reason for going was the story.

Ticket buyers were 59% male and 71% over 25; Universal hopes to expand its aud as “Munich” goes wide Jan. 6.

Though it’s no longer breaking records, Focus Features’ “Brokeback” is well positioned as it continues to expand. Per-screen average was $8,803 for the four days, slightly higher than “Munich’s.” Pic’s three-day gross was $1.9 million.

Over the four days, “Brokeback” took $2.6 million, about even with the $2.5 million it drew in three days at 69 playdates last week. Cume is now $7.6 million.

While its core aud remains upscale and well-educated young to middle-aged moviegoers, “Brokeback” is showing surprising strength among older auds. Pic posted solid figures in new markets including senior enclaves West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, Fla.

In Wyoming, where the pic is set, it is playing on only one screen, in Jackson Hole; grosses were not available from that site.

This past weekend, the ranch-hand love story lost some of its top-performing theaters in urban markets as new pics opened in those venues, but Focus will take “Brokeback” to several new major markets, including San Antonio and Memphis, Tenn., next week. That should up print count to mid-200s. Pic then starts broader, but still slow, expansion Jan. 6, when it’s expected to hit 300-400 playdates.

Expansions will focus on midsized cities for the next few weeks.

“It’s a good fit in the suburbs where it is right now,” Focus distrib topper Jack Foley observed. “We don’t need to go much further until maybe after the Golden Globes.”

‘Casanova’ finds love

Disney opened romantic comedy “Casanova” to $234,000 over two days at 37 playdates for an average of $6,331. Heath Ledger starrer goes wide Jan. 6.

Playing just three theaters in Gotham and L.A., Terence Malick’s historical drama “The New World” bowed to a very strong $31,000, or $10,333 per, on Christmas Day. New Line didn’t have two-day estimates for such a small run.

“The Polar Express” continues to chug along for WB on 66 Imax screens. Even though some giant-screen locations were closed Christmas Day, pic took $1.4 million over the frame and $960,000 in three days. Weekend take was down only 12% from last frame despite the holiday.

Per-play average over three days was $14,545 and cume for the re-release is $8 million.

Sony Pictures Classics found “Cache” to be a very strong performer on five playdates in New York and L.A. Michael Haneke’s well-reviewed thriller made $82,053 for the frame and $57,053 over three days for an average of $11,411.

Distrib saw weaker results for “The White Countess,” which made only $66,406 at 10 locations and $46,406 for the weekend, giving it a per-play average of $4,641. Ralph Fiennes-Natasha Richardson starrer has cumed $84,046 since it bowed Wednesday.

SPC’s “Breakfast on Pluto” was soggy as it grew from three to 41 playdates. Neil Jordan-helmed transgender drama made just $68,290 for the frame and $48,290 over three days for an average of $1,178. Cume is $245,886.

Market’s other transgender pic, “Transamerica,” is faring better. The Weinstein Co.’s Felicity Huffman starrer made $52,266 over four days and $33,450 for the weekend, giving it a three-day average of $5,575 at six playdates. Total take is $178,806.

The company’s “Mrs. Henderson Presents” grossed $67,132 in four days and $40,279 in three over a frame in which it expanded from six plays Friday to 17 on Sunday. Cume is $207,494.

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