The Indie Week That Was

Mid-May Analysis

By Michael Lynderey

June 11, 2009

Is this a bad time to mention I'm afraid of heights?

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In 2003, the movie added on roughly $16.2 million, though by year's end the screen count was only at 18, and the movie had been pulling in less than $100,000 a week for most of the fall (most of the weekend grosses in the spring had come in well over $150,000). In 2004, Space Station added roughly $10.5 million to its tally, ending up with a $56.5 million total. Here's a film whose grosses would resemble a wide release film's if they were measured year-to-year, instead of weekend-to-weekend. Anyway, the movie started 2004 with a tally of $109,324 at 13 theaters, and the remainder of the year fluctuated around that area - but an overall drop was noticeable. The last weekend of 2004 saw the film play at only nine IMAX locations, with a gross of just $63,908. The movie had slowed down at last.

2005 and 2006 continued that trend. While Space Station pulled in a fair $7.4 million in the former year, it grossed only $1.1 million in the latter. The film seemed to have reached its nadir. What happened? Well, in 2005, the film still played in over ten screens most of the time, and often pulled in per-screen averages of over $5,000. By the fall of that year, however, the film deflated down to under ten theaters, and the per-screen gross dropped down with it - sometimes falling under $1,000. 2006 simply brought on more of the same, with not a single weekend in more than 10 locations and per-screen averages that were downright embarrassing, with the highest coming in at $3,002, and almost all of them falling below $1,000. Keeping in mind that IMAX tickets cost more, you can imagine how dead the attendance was for most of the year. The film's run had effectively seemed to come to an end, with a total now of roughly $65 million.


But something brought this movie back to life - by the end of 2007, the movie was at $72.8 million. Throughout the summer of that year, Space Station started bringing in per theater averages the likes of which it hadn't seen in a while, rising to around $3,000 $7,000 and peaking in August with $14,511. The theater counts often came back up to over ten. Indeed, in 2008, the movie grossed an additional $4.8 million, pulling in many respectable weekends, and reaching a screen count of 21, a high not seen since June 2004. So far in 2009, the movie has already pulled in $1.4 million, and now stands at a total of $78.7 million. While the film's theater count has remained in the single digits, the per-theater averages have consistently stayed in between $3,000 and $7,000.

So what happened here? I'd guess that after most early 2000s consumers had their share of the film, the movie went on the down-low, and then a new generation began discovering it, if only in modest numbers. This might mean that the movie has stabilized itself into a comfortable position from which to slowly but surely expand its gross. And if the film can continue bringing in over $3 million or so a year, it'll have a place in the IMAX line-up, and it won't take Space Station very long to get from $78 million to $100 million - thus adding another three-digit grosser to the 2002 line-up of 24 such films. Who knows? One day it may even give My Big Fat Greek Wedding a run for its money.

The best movie title of the year?

I just had to share this one. If you scrawl down enough on the May 15th weekend chart, right to #87, you will notice an absolutely marvelously-named movie - The Death Factory Bloodletting. Yes, it's really called that. That a movie with this name can still get a theatrical release of any size almost single-handedly restores my faith in cinema. No critics or newspapers mentioned the film's release, but some horror reviewers gave it a go, with the invaluable DreadCentral detailing the film's similarity to the Saw series and thanking it for not being "flatout torture porn" (it might just be 50-50). This one opened in one lucky theater somewhere in the nation and grossed, probably to the surprise of anyone involved with it, a fair $3,822 for the weekend. Where the film actually played may well remain a mystery, or perhaps a well-kept secret.

The rest of the country, I suppose, will just have to settle for Drag Me to Hell.

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