After conquering the Sundance Film Festival this past January, Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" dominated the art house circuit this weekend grossing a very impressive $53,857 per screen in just 7 theaters. Based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a Bay Area man who was shot by a BART transit officer during the early hours of Jan. 1, 2009, the film did especially well in Oakland selling out numerous screenings. "Fruitvale's" per screen is one of the biggest for a limited release this year beating tough competition including "The Bling Ring" and "Before Midnight."& Only "Spring Breakers" ($87,667) had a higher per screen.
The film will expand to six more markets next week before going nationwide on July 26. The Weinstein Company and Coogler will now try to delicately discuss the film's similarities to the Trayvon Martin case with the outrage following the George Zimmerman verdict Saturday. "Fruitvale" will certainly continue the conversation and provide context for issues of prejudice that still plague all parts of the country.
Last May, I had the opportunity to speak to Coogler and stars Octavia Spencer, Michael B. Jordan and Melonie Diaz after the picture screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. It's part of what has been and will continue to be a long journey for a film already on the road for awards season consideration. Even after his Sundance success Coogler seemed on cloud nine about screening on the iconic Croisette as Spencer, whose participation pretty much made the financing for the movie possible, looked on like a proud mom.
"Fruitvale Station" is now playing in limited release.