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Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash

Lions Gate Films Co-President Tom Ortenberg Comments of Dogma's Opening Weekend

Lions Gate's release of the controversial R-rated irreverent comedy "Dogma" opened in third place to a much better than expected estimated $8.77 million at 1,269 theaters ($6,907 per theater). Directed by Kevin Smith, it stars Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Alan Rickman and Chris Rock.

"We're thrilled," Lions Gate Co-President Tom Ortenberg said Sunday morning. "The picture was playing to sellout crowds literally across America. We had very few double prints, so to do that kind of a per-screen average I think was phenomenal. The picture seemed to play well broadly. We were getting not just a younger crowd and a college crowd, but also a decent adult crowd who were drawn by a lot of wonderful reviews on the picture, and we played so brilliantly at three very prestigious film festivals -- Cannes, Toronto and New York.

"In addition to being a kind of broad-based pop culture entertainment, it's also very clever and insightful and, I think, that was very appealing to a more adult audience, as well, that a lot of people didn't think we would be able to attract. I was at many different theaters this weekend watching the film, and audiences were just eating it up."

Who was on hand to see "Dogma?" "Slightly more male, but the film has a lot of things going for it," Ortenberg said. "I don't have the final polling numbers (as of early Sunday morning), but it was very broad-based -- a good mix of males and females and more adult than some people thought we would be able to attract."

Ortenberg said that Lions Gate has a lot scheduled on the promotion front this week: "We have a lot of good week two publicity banked. Knowing there are a couple of biggies opening this week against us, we decided to hold off on some of the publicity so that (it breaks in the second week). Today, there's a New York Times piece on Kevin Smith. Tomorrow, Kevin is on 'Larry King Live.' Wednesday, Selma is on Jay Leno. Thursday, Jason Lee is on Craig Kilborn. There are features this coming week in Time, Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone. I think that would be considered by some to be a great week one publicity campaign. We think that will really help keep the profile of the movie high.

"We'll probably add a few (theaters) in some metropolitan areas where the picture is playing particularly well. But I think we picked a good number (of runs to open with)."

While it's playing strongly in big cities, Ortenberg said, it's also doing well all over. "We're having great weekends in Knoxville, Tenn., and Toledo, Ohio," he said. "In Toledo, we're going to do over $20,000 this weekend. And Knoxville is going to be doing well over $10,000. And Savannah, Ga., is going to be doing over $10,000. So it's really playing well across the board. In some of the more metropolitan areas, it's doing even better, where we might add a few screens. But, for the most part, I think we'll stick around where we are."

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