"Slumdog Millionaire" hits jackpot in first round

Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:58am EST
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It's been a relatively slack market so far for prestige films with awards-consideration aspirations, but "Slumdog Millionaire" hit the jackpot during the weekend with a gold-plated start to its platform campaign.

Danny Boyle's critically praised comedy-drama about an Indian game-show contestant grossed $350,434 from just 10 theaters in six markets, said distributor Fox Searchlight. That represented a mind-bending $35,043 million per engagement for one of the year's top theater averages to date.

Since opening Wednesday, the film has earned $418,131; it will add 10 cities next weekend as part of a slow roll-out designed to capitalize on word of mouth.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, IFC's French-language Catherine Deneuve starrer "A Christmas Tale" unwrapped a first-weekend gross of $65,408 in five New York theaters and three in Los Angeles. That translated to an encouraging $9,344 per venue as the Yuletide reunion drama prepares to unfold in top 10 markets Friday.

Cavalier Films' comedy "Family Strangers" grossed $12,294 from a pair of opening playdates in Washington, D.C. That amounted to a sturdy $6,147 per engagement, with "Strangers" tagged to expand in select markets slowly in coming weeks.

Laemmle/Zeller's Jewish basketball documentary "The First Basket" opened with $5,370 from three southern California locations, or a thin $1,790 per site. And Liberation Entertainment's relationship drama "Eden" unspooled in a single New York venue with a tepid $2,760.

Among the session's notable expansions, Miramax's Holocaust drama "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" added 21 theaters for a total of 38 and grossed $490,000, or an impressive $12,893 per venue, with an $843,000 total.

Miramax also added 41 locations for Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky" and grossed $374,000, or a so-so $2,616 per site, with a $1.8 million total.   Continued...

<p>English director Danny Boyle poses for a portrait during a press day for his new film "Slumdog Millionaire" in New York, October 24, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>