'Munich' solid as 'Mountain' climbs high

“Brokeback Mountain” continues to buck trends, showing even more heat in its fourth limited frame while “Munich” posted a second solid week on several hundred plays and “Match Point” aced its debut on a handful of courts.

“Brokeback” gained an amazing 61% in its fourth frame despite adding only 52 theaters. Focus’ Ang Lee-helmed gay cowboy love story lassoed up $4.8 million at 269 playdates, giving it a three-day per-screen average of $13,407.

Pic expanded to just a few additional mid-sized cities and made boffo grosses in all of them, including $37,000 in Nashville, $44,000 in Columbus, and $32,000 in Milwaukee. Lowest-grossing theaters are in the suburbs, where “Brokeback” is averaging mid-single digits, similar to moderately performing wide pics like “Geisha” and “Rumor Has It.”

Focus expects to add around 120 theaters Friday as part of a slow expansion throughout January.

“The process is working, but we still have to judiciously select our new markets and the ones where we expand,” Focus distrib topper Jack Foley said. “It’s a matter of timing and restraint to let the major competition get out of the marketplace.”

Cume stands at just over $15 million.

Focus’ bigger sibling Universal did relatively well with “Munich.” Steven Spielberg-helmed historical drama was virtually flat with its debut last weekend at 532 locations, grossing $6.1 million over four days. That was once again good enough to put “Munich” at No. 10.

Pic is following the release pattern of 2001′s “A Beautiful Mind,” which played over 500 theaters Christmas and New Year’s weekend before going wide. Ron Howard-helmed Oscar winner did significantly better, however, grossing $12.6 million over the four-day New Year’s frame.

“Munich” averaged $9,023 per playdate over three days and has cumed $15.6 million. It will have to show very strong legs – meaning a minimal drop in its per-screen average — if it hopes to break out when it goes wide to around 1,500 locations Friday.

“We’re looking at all the markets it’s opened to see where it has the most strength and can expand,” explained U distrib topper Nikki Rocco. “There’s lots of time to watch ‘Munich’ grow.’

“Match Point” showed a killer first serve for DreamWorks, taking $517,000 at just eight playdates in Gotham and L.A. Woody Allen’s dark morality play had an impressive per play average over three days of $49,875. Cume since Wednesday debut is $720,000.

Gross would have been even bigger, but one of “Match Point’s” top theaters on 42nd Street in Gotham shut down Saturday night for New Year’s eve festivities.

Pic expands to around 300 playdates Friday with a planned wide expansion Jan. 20.

“You’ve got to like the trajectory it’s on when you look at the numbers and see theaters selling out,” said DreamWorks head of theatrical sales Don Harris.

Frame’s other debut, “The Matador” from the Weinstein Co., started strong, grossing $92,379 at four theaters. Comedy’s per-play average was $17,321 over three days.

Sony Pictures Classics’ “Cache” did very well in its second frame, growing 27% to take $102,944 at five playdates, for a three-day average of $14,589. Cume for the well-reviewed French thriller is $234,987.

Indie’s “The White Countess” posted a much weaker $80,099 at 10 playdates, up 18%. Three-day average was $5,910 and cume after two weeks for the Ralph Fiennes starrer is $200,664.

Both pics will have a modest expansion Jan. 13.

In its first full frame since bowing last Sunday, Disney’s romantic comedy “Casanova” did a solid $564,000 at 37 playdates for a three-day average of $11,027. Cume for the Heath Ledger starrer, which goes wide Friday, is just over $1 million.

Slowing down for the first time in several weeks, but still posting an impressive number, was WB’s re-release of “The Polar Express” at 66 Imax 3-D screens. Pic made $899,000, down 35%. Average for its high-priced plays over three days was $11,121. Cume for the re-release is $10 million after seven frames.

“Mrs. Henderson Presents” posted an impressive gain for the Weinstein Co., grossing $156,829, up 84%. Per play average at 16 locations over three days was $7,351 and cume after four frames is $461,443.

Indie’s “Transamerica” also posted so-so numbers that were up substantially. Transgender road movie grossed $69,409, up 34%, and averaged $8,676 over three days at six playdates. Cume after five frames is $284,215,

New Line didn’t have complete grosses for the first full frame of “The New World,” which bowed Christmas Day. In its first week ending Saturday, Terence Malick-helmed historical drama took $121,000 at three theaters in Gotham and L.A.

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