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Specialty Box Office: Audiences Go ‘Wild’; ‘Imitation Game’ Leads Per-Theater-Averages

Specialty Box Office: Audiences Go 'Wild'; 'Imitation Game' Leads Per-Theater-Averages

Another weekend, another Oscar hopeful opening in limited release to big numbers. Fox Searchlight sent Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Wild” to 21 theaters on Friday, and it followed “The Imitation Game,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Foxcatcher” in managing a $30,000+ per-theater-average. The film — which stars Reese Witherspoon in a performance that will surely nab her a Best Actress nomination — grossed $630,000 to just manage that feat: Its estimated average was $30,000 exactly. That’s lower that most openers as of late, but still impressive given “Wild” opened on 21 theaters instead of the 5 or 6 that “Imitation,” “Theory” and “Foxcatcher” all opened on.

“The reviews have been phenomenal and the response at the box-office this
weekend was great as well,” Frank Rodriguez, SVP Fox Searchlight said. “The film performed well in both
Art/Specialty venues as well as in upscale mainstream complexes
indicating to us that the film should be able to reach a very broad
audience. We are very encouraged by this weekend’s results.”
 
“Wild” will open in 13 more markets as well as expanding a bit in already opened cities g to reach a total of 90-100 theatres for December 12th.  Fox Searchlight’s plan is to reach 800-900 theatres by Christmas Day.

Meanwhile, The Weinstein Company had another stellar weekend with “The Imitation Game.” The Morten Tyldum-directed Alan Turing biopic expanded slightly from 4 to 8 theaters and grossed $401,570 for a massive $50,196 per-theater-average. That’s the second best second weekend per-theater average of the year, following “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”  “Game” has now grossed $1,012,769 from just a handful of screens. The Weinsteins will expand the film next weekend to 6 new markets: Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, DC, Philadelphia, Toronto (all in exclusive runs). They will also add a few more theaters in New York and LA, totaling 30-35 theaters.

Notably, the numbers for “Game” — which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, the closeted gay man who cracked Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during World War II — topped the second weekend averages of the trio of films that recently opened that each feature a performance Cumberbatch will likely be competing against for the Best Actor Oscar: Michael Keaton in “Birdman” ($27,593 per theater), Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher” ($19,750 per theater) and Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything” ($17,937 per theater). 

Those three films all had strong weekends in their own right.  “Foxcatcher” jumped from 72 to 75 theaters in its fourth frame. Starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, the
Bennett Miller-directed, Sony Pictures Classics-released film grossed
$574,727 this weekend, averaging $7,663. The film’s total now stands at $2,842,240.

Focus Features’ was more aggressive with James Marsh’s “Theory of Everything” — sending it from 802 to 826 theaters in its fifth weekend.  It took in $2,668,000 as a result, averaging an $3,230 per theater as it placed #7 on the overall box office top 10.

“Theory”
stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and his first wife
Jane, and is based on Jane’s memoirs of her marriage to Stephen. It
debuted to strong reviews at the Toronto Film Festival, and clearly
Focus has golden dreams for the film in its near future.

Meanwhile,
Fox Searchlight took Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar hopeful
“Birdman” from 710 to 738  theaters on Friday.  It managed $1,150,000 for a $1,558
average — putting it in the overall top 10 for the fourth weekend in a
row. The film has now totaled $18,919,495 — outgrossing “21 Grams,” “Biutiful”
and “Amores Perros” to fall second only to “Babel” as far as Iñárritu’s top
grossers go.

“Birdman”
stars Michael Keaton as a washed-up Hollywood actor who once played a
superhero. Aiming to reinvent his career, he tries adapting Raymond
Carver’s short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” as a
play.

The film has received glowing reviews, and Keaton is
likely to be facing off with “Theory” star Redmayne, “Imitation” star Cumberbatch and “Foxcatcher”
star Carell in this year’s best actor Oscar race. All four have ever
been nominated before.

Head over to the next page for a chart of the weekend’s 10 best per-theater-averages.


The Weekend’s Specialty Top 10 (ranked in order of
per-theater-average, and only including films that both submitted
estimates and initially opened in under 500 theaters):

1. The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $401,570
Theaters: 8 (up from 4)
Per-Theater-Average: $50,196
Total Gross: $1,012,769
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “Game”

2. Wild (Fox Searchlight)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $630,000
Theaters: 21
Per-Theater-Average: $30,000
Total Gross: $630,000
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “Wild”

3. Zero Motivation (Zeitgeist)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $9,692
Theaters: 1
Per-Theater-Average: $9,692
Total Gross: $13,410
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “Zero”

4. Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics)
Week: 4
Weekend Gross: $574,727
Theaters: 75 (up from 72)
Per-Theater-Average: $7,663
Total Gross: $2,842,240
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “Foxcatcher”

5. Concering Violence (Kino Lorber)
Week: Debut
Weekend Gross: $4,000
Theaters: 1
Per-Theater-Average: $4,000
Total Gross: $4,000
Criticwire Average: A-
Read more about “Violence”

6. Awake: The Life of Yogananda (Counterpoint Films & Self-Realization Fellowship)
Week: 7
Weekend Gross: $31,600
Theaters: 6 (even)
Per-Theater-Average: $5,267
Total Gross: $735,100
Criticwire Average: N/A

7. The Homesman (Roadside Attractions/Saban Films)
Week: 4
Weekend Gross: $501,000
Theaters: 154 (up from 50)
Per-Theater-Average: $3,253
Total Gross: $1,067,000
Criticwire Average: B-
Read more about “The Homesman”

8. The Theory of Everything (Focus)
Week: 5
Weekend Gross: $2,668,000
Theaters: 826 (up from 802)
Per-Theater-Average: $3,230
Total Gross: $13,613,434
Criticwire Average: B
Read more about “Theory”

9. The Babadook (IFC Films)
Week: 2
Weekend Gross: $66,600
Theaters: 22 (up from 3)
Per-Theater-Average: $3,027
Total Gross: $112,424
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “Babadook”

10. Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)
Week: 9
Weekend Gross: $351,000
Theaters: 175 (down from 179)
Per-Theater-Average: $2,006
Total Gross: $4,415,000
Criticwire Average: A-
Read more about “Whiplash”

Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

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