“Journey From the Fall,” a modestly-budgeted independent film from a new production company hoping to attract Asian-American audiences, scored a remarkable opening-weekend victory, grossing a higher per-screen average at the box office than any movie in the country last week. That includes last weekend’s box office champ, “TMNT,” which made an estimated $25.45 million overall, but lagged behind the $21,861 per screen that “Journey From the Fall” averaged. By comparison, “Shooter” had the third-highest overall take, but averaged just $5,168 per screen. The new Adam Sandler drama “Reign Over Me” averaged just $4,788 per screen.
“Journey” played to mostly sold-out screenings in San Jose–where director Ham Tran appeared for a question-and-answer session following one of Saturday’s showings–as well as New York City and Westminster. All three cities have large Vietnamese-American communities, where grass roots marketing campaigns, strong word of mouth and positive reviews all contributed to strong showings at the box office. San Jose’s Camera 12 Cinemas had to hurriedly order a second print of the film from ImaginAsian Pictures, the first-time distributor, to handle its overflow crowds. The film grossed $87,442.
“This is a defining moment for Asian-American cinema and is a testament to the talent, determination and vision of the filmmakers and producers involved,” said Michael Hong, the CEO of ImaginAsian Pictures.
The film will expand to more theaters nationwide beginning March 30, and will begin appearing on screens in other Bay Area cities April 20. It is inspired by the true stories of Vietnamese refugees who fled their country after the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War, and it is one of the first films ever to examine the struggles of those who stayed behind and endured the brutalities of the re-education camps set up by the new government.