Arthouse hot house

Specialty pix dominate Gotham box office

Specialty films dominated the borough of Manhattan over the Labor Day Aug. 30-Sept. 2 frame, taking four of the top six places on the list of the city’s biggest box office draws.

Expanding to three Gotham theaters from two, Fox Searchlight’s Robin Williams starrer “One Hour Photo” ruled the Manhattan specialty B.O. for the second week in a row, developing $320,010 over the weekend.

“Manhattan in particular has the most dynamic moviegoing audience,” said Steve Gilula, prexy of distribution for Fox Searchlight. “When a film is embraced by the audience in New York, a specialty movie can become a mainstream movie. Based on some of the early critical writing out of Sundance, and early screenings, we felt that both of our films (the other is “The Good Girl”) had potential to do very strong business in Manhattan.”

Added Gilula, “We learned when doing ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ that if a movie connects you can really do a lot of business in New York.”

Pic’s per screen average was a robust $35,557, besting even the fiery IFC Films release “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which averaged $23,298 on 11 screens in its 20th week in release.

“Photo’s” numbers were terrific at the pic’s new venue, the Empire 25 at 42nd Street. It dropped a mere 6% at the Lincoln Square and 18% at Union Square, where it processed a still staggering $79,578. Like “Greek,” pic is playing to stellar numbers within multiplexes, insuring a mainstream crossover once the film rolls out to over 1,000 screens on Sept. 13.

“Greek” rang in $256,276 in Manhattan, good for the second spot behind “Photo.” Third place for a specialty pic went to Fox Searchlight release “The Good Girl,” which expanded from eight to 10 venues with a per screen average of $17,790, up 25% from last weekend.

‘Girl’ power

The Jennifer Aniston starrer’s weekend cume was $177,903, just under that of Buena Vista’s mainstream “Signs”; that means three of the top four spots in the Gotham box office race went to specialty pics. Film’s cume is $7.5 million. Strongest Manhattan venue for “Girl” remains the Angelika Film Center, where it brought in $34,016 for the frame.

Focus Features, which expanded Neil LaBute’s “Possession” from nine to 10 venues, grabbed $128,222, good for a fertile $14,247 per screen average. Pic, in its third week of release, has grossed a handsome $6.5 million nationwide. Hottest Gotham venue remains the Union Square, where pic rocked to $33,640.

ThinkFilms’ Italo import “The Last Kiss” embraced a lovely $19,538 from Lincoln Plaza, while United Artists’ “24 Hour Party People” remains a must-see at the East Village’s Sunshine, taking in $23,299.

‘Tadpole’ leaps

The Labor Day weekend also brought upticks for Paramount Classics’ “Mostly Martha” and Miramax Films’ “Tadpole” at the Paris Theater and Lincoln Plaza, respectively. “Mostly Martha” cooked up $30,078 at the Paris and remains attractive at downtown’s Angelika Film Center, where it reaped $22,183.

The Gary Winick-helmed Sundance fave “Tadpole” took in $14,103 at uptown’s Lincoln Plaza and $9,319 at the Sunshine. Pic has cumed $2.3 million.

Zeitgeist’s “Satin Rouge” dropped a mere 4% at Greenwich Village arthouse theater the Quad. Pic snagged $16,026, good for a $59,040 cume. Cowboy’s reissue of the Akira Kurosawa classic “Seven Samurai” fought to a fine $16,312 at the Film Forum, part of the shingle’s Kurosawa/Mifune film fest.

Sony Pictures Classics unveiled “Mad Love” at the Quad, and it attracted a heartening $14,373. Lot 47’s “The Fast Runner” raced up another $12,414 off of two Manhattan venues, giving the Inuit standout a $2,292,944 domestic cume. Pic has made $3.1 million in North America.

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