Shatters BOT Record; “Motorcycle Diaries” also B.O. Tour de Force
by Brian Brooks, September 29, 2004

Releases ranging from well-known specialty titles from the mini-majors to self-distributed films playing at one location dominated the indie box office over the weekend, with debut films filling the top 10 places on the iW: BOT, as ranked on a per screen basis, for the first time in recent memory. Director Rohit Jagessar’s self-distributed “Guiana 1838” invaded the list in the number one position with the highest per screen average recorded since this column began nearly a year-and-a-half ago, after opening in one Queens, NY cinema, while Focus Features’ “The Motorcycle Diaries” raced into second place also with a stratospheric per screen average. “Diaries” also outperformed previous debut record holders for 2004, including “The Dreamers,” “The Passion of the Christ” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but other weekend openers fared more modestly.

Historic docu-drama “Guiana 1838,” which gives an account of Indians who emigrated to British Guiana as indentured servants, sold out virtually every screening at the 660-seat UA Crossbay Theater I in Queens over the weekend, easily handing the film the top position for the week, and an iW: BOT per screen record-breaking $70,910. To give perspective, “The Dreamers” on five screens averaged $28,526 in its debut weekend last February, while “Control Room” opened on one screen in late May with $27,125, both among the highest openers on a per screen basis of the year. Box office monoliths “The Passion of the Christ” ($27,554) and “Fahrenheit 9/11” ($27,558) were also in similar ranges on a per site basis, although their debuts were much broader in scale.

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