'Fruitvale Station' Opens Strong at the Box Office

Did the Trayvon Martin case help the little-indie-that-could?

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Fruitvale Station (Ron Koeberer/the Weinstein Co.)

Fruitvale Station will not be one of the top 10 titles listed in this past weekend's box office, but when looked at on its own, the independent film, which debuted in seven theaters nationwide, had a remarkable opening.

Deadline reports that the film, about the 2009 killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III by a transit cop, is a bona fide hit if judged by what it brought on a per-screen average. The site also suggests that the strong opening is due in part to this past weekend's Trayvon Martin news.

Director Ryan Coogler's drama, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and was picked up by TWC at the festival, tells a story that draws parallels with the Martin case which has gripped the 24 news cycle the past couple weeks. Fruitvale Station grossed $377,285 for a stellar $53,898 average in its opening weekend.

TWC's president Theatrical Distribution, Erik Lomis acknowledged the timing of the film's release, though he chalked most of the film's success to its quality rather than timing Sunday morning: "It's a counter-programmer to the summer popcorn fare. It's a movie that really makes you think and makes you look inside. It has a great message about a tragic situation and we're proud of the film and the talent. These numbers speak for themselves." Relating it to the Martin verdict he noted: "It's a similar issue and in the public sphere — we didn't plan that of course. I think our picture has a very important message and we want as many people to see it as possible." Lomis noted that the film played across the spectrum with a 43% white and 29% African American audience over the weekend.

Fruitvale Station will open in six more cities the weekend of July 26.

Read more at Deadline. 

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