"Torino" and "Che" solid in limited release

Sun Dec 14, 2008 7:17pm EST
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Prestige films including Clint Eastwood's tour de force "Gran Torino" and Steven Soderbergh's revolutionary epic "Che" stormed the domestic box office this weekend in a thickening battle for adult moviegoers and industry kudos.

Warner Bros. opened actor/director Eastwood's "Gran Torino" in six theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and registered $282,000. That represented a turbocharged $47,340 per playdate, though as an older-skewing release, "Torino" may take its time finding top gear once it hits wider distribution.

Positive reviews -- particularly for Eastwood's performance -- helped stoke must-see interest for the opening. "Torino" cruises into three additional markets with a total of 18 theaters starting Friday.

IFC Films' "Che" -- which casts Benicio Del Toro in the title role -- unspooled in single theaters in New York and Los Angeles but rang up a big $60,100 via sellouts of both venues.

IFC scheduled the one-week-only exclusive runs to qualify the four-hour-plus Che Guevara biopic for Oscar voting. "Che" is set to split into separate engagements starting January 9 for the film's two parts: the Cuba-centered "The Argentine" and the Bolivia-based "Guerrilla."

The Weinstein Co.'s post-World War II drama "The Reader" -- directed by Stephen Daldry ("Billy Elliot") and starring Kate Winslet -- opened in eight locations and grossed $170,000, or a showy $21,250 per site. Figuring among the most-nominated films in Golden Globes balloting, "Reader" totes a $181,000 haul since opening on Wednesday.

Miramax debuted "Doubt," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep, in 15 theaters and grossed $25,030 per venue, or a glitzy $35,002 per playdate. "Doubt" will expand to 40-45 locations on Friday and widen to 1,000 or more sites on Christmas.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, several films staged important expansions in the afterglow of Thursday's Globes nominations.   Continued...

<p>Director and actor Clint Eastwood arrives at the world premiere of his new film "Gran Torino" at the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank, California December 9, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>