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After Vatican Interference, Gay-Themed ‘Weekend’ Scores Strong Niche Opening in Italy

ROME — British writer-director Andrew Haigh’s gay romantic drama “Weekend” scored the top per-screen-average this weekend as it opened in Italy despite getting the thumbs down from the Vatican, which had limited the scope of its release, according to distributor Teodora Film.

Directed by Haigh in 2011, “Weekend” pulled a strong more than $6,221 per screen in its Italo bow, albeit on just 10 screens.

By contrast, the frame’s second-highest per-screen average was $4.217 earned by “The Divergent Series: Allegiant,” released by Eagle Pictures in Italy.

Of course “Allegiant” bowed at number one on 376 screens and pulled a $1,584 first frame gross. “Weekend” took a total of $63,000 its first weekend  and weighed in at number 19 on the Italian box office chart.

Teodora co-topper Cesare Petrillo lamented last week that bookings for “Weekend,” were suddenly cut down to ten screens after the Italian Bishop’s Conference Film Evaluation Commission classified the pic as “not advised, unusable and scabrous (indecent or salacious).”

The Vatican owns many of the country’s arthouse movie theaters. While it does not operate them, it can hold sway on their programming, though this rarely occurs.

On Monday Teodora trumpeted its “Weekend” numbers, boasting that the gay love story set during a weekend in Nottingham between 34-year-old Russell (Tom Cullen), a lifeguard at a public swimming pool, and conceptual artist Glen (Chris New) was the top per-screen earner in Rome. Pic pulled more than $17,000 from one screen at arthouse Quattro Fontane, which is more than any other single movie screen take in that frame in the Italian capital, including multiplexes.

“Weekend” will now be screening on 21 Italian screens next weekend.

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