Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.
More than one New York newscaster half-joked that former NYC mayor Ed Koch upstaged his own movie’s debut this weekend. Koch came in to lead the city at one of its lowest points in the late ’70s — it was on the verge of bankruptcy — but came to typify its brash in your face resilience and becoming a household name around the country via movies and television long after he left office. At 88, Koch died in the early hours Friday morning as the doc about Hizzoner bowed in two New York theaters later that day. It did solid business, but considering the windfall of media coverage on its own turf, the movie performed respectably with a $20K average. But the weekend topper in limited debuts belonged to Sony Pictures Classics’ The Gatekeepers which opened in three theaters in New York and LA, averaging $22,226. And Dave Grohl’s Sundance doc Sound City followed up a slew of one-nighters around the country this week, opening in 16 theaters with a modest average of $4,375. Grohl planned to take the movie out quickly across multiple platforms following its Sundance premiere and fans apparently decided to access it outside theaters — it was the No. 1 documentary for the weekend on iTunes.
“When added to Thursday evening’s gross of $120,514 (Sound City played 50 special screenings across the country, many for one night only and mostly sold out, on 1/31), the cume gross to date is $190,514 after just 4 days,” according to Sound City’s theatrical distributor Variance Films. The company had its box office messaging in mind today: “We’re not playing the per-screen game on this one — per Dave’s orders, we’re bringing it to the people, no funny stuff — so that per screen includes everything from a $14,000 weekend gross at LA’s Sundance Sunset Cinemas with most of the shows sold out in advance to a $270 gross for a (also sold out) single screening in a 30 seat theatre in NJ.”