‘Swimfan’ Makes A Box Office Splash

Thanks to Lee for sending this in!

From: MSN NZ

In a surprising start to the fall movie-going season, the low-budget teen thriller “Swimfan” opened at No. 1, preventing the hit romantic comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” from claiming the top spot in its 21st weekend of release.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, “Swimfan” – pitched as a “Fatal Attraction” for teen-agers – grossed about $12.4 million for the three days beginning Sept. 6. It was followed by “Wedding” at $10.6 million, and the new Robert De Niro cop drama “City By The Sea” with $9.1 million.
After two consecutive weekends at No. 1, Mel Gibson’s supernatural thriller “Signs,” fell to No. 4 with $8.0 million.
Wedding” has arguably been the biggest hit of the year, costing just $5 million to make and hauling in $97 million to date. It opened in limited release last April and relied on positive word-of-mouth as it slowly added theaters. It moved up to the No. 2 slot last weekend, narrowly behind “Signs,” and was expected to grab the crown this weekend.

But most people did not bank on “Swimfan,” which did not even screen in advance for critics, a measure usually taken when a studio wants to limit possible bad word-of-mouth.

GREAT LITTLE SURPRISE
“Swimfan,” which reportedly cost less than $10 million to make, was distributed by Twentieth Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment Group Inc .

Going into the weekend, Fox would have been happy with an $8 million opening, said Rick Myerson, the studio’s executive VP of distribution.

“It’s one of those great little surprises,” Myerson said of the eventual figure. It is notoriously hard to predict how well teen films will do at the box office.

Erika Christensen plays a girl obsessed with the school’s swimming champion, played by Jesse Bradford. Shiri Appleby plays his girlfriend. Australian John Polson directed.

As is usually the case with thrillers, females made up the majority of the young audience, about 60 percent, Myerson said. The young demographic has not been targeted with a movie since “XXX” opened on Aug. 9 followed by “Blue Crus” a week later, he noted.

One person who was not surprised by how well “Swimfan” did was Paul Brooks, president of Gold Circle Films, one of the backers of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Brooks said his film enjoyed an astonishing weekend – its per-screen average of $6,249 was easily the highest in the top 10 – and has yet to suffer any attrition.

He hoped the movie would eventually surpass the $140 million total of the most successful independent movie in history, “The Blair Witch Project.”
“Wedding” stars Nia Vardalos as a frumpy spinster who causes chaos in her proud Greek-American family when she becomes engaged to a WASP. It was released by IFC Films, a unit of Rainbow Media Holdings Inc., which is majority owned by Cablevision Systems Corp .