The most impressive of the two was definitely "A Separation," which aggressively added 160 screens this weekend to bring its total to a new high of 243. The result was a 173% surge in grosses and a remarkable $1,001,582 gross. That made for a potent $4,122 average, down just slightly from last weekend's $4,414. It also gave the Sony Pictures Classics release a new total of $3,726,995 after 10 weeks of release.
The uptick is the highest for any foreign language film winner in recent memory, and suggests "A Separation" could be headed for a final gross well beyond any sort of expectation.
"This is a staggering achievement for a film from a new filmmaker to the American audience with a film from a part of the world that rarely achieves this kind of box office success," Sony Classics' Michael Barker told Indiewire today. "This is only the beginning for this film. Discussions and word of mouth occurring in lobbies of theaters around the country following every showing is intense and viral. This movie is a landmark in the history of independent film in the American marketplace."
Meanwhile, best documentary winner "Undefeated" went from five to 13 screens in its third weekend and saw a 337% rise in grosses. Taking in $84,311, the high school football doc averaged $6,485 -- nearly doubling last weekend's average of $3,863. Released by The Weinstein Company, the film's total now stands at $166,139 ahead of further expansion.
As for Oscar's favorite film? In its whopping 15th weekend of release, Michel Hazanavicius's best picture winner "The Artist" went all out by expanding from 966 screens to 1,756. While it's hard to call anything a disappointment with this film (or any silent, black and white French film that can hit 1,756 screens across North America), the results were not overwhelming.
Taking in $3,900,000, "The Artist" averaged $2,221 and finally reached the overall top 10. However, its average was actually less than most other films in top 10, including "The Means War" and "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island." Either way, the fact that the Weinstein Company has now taken in $37,088,418 from this film -- with the $50 million mark a possibility -- is genuinely astounding.
Rounding out the Oscar winners, screenplay winner "The Descendants" lost 36% of its gross as Fox Searchlight dropped it from 889 to 694 screens. The film still managed to take in a respectable $1,365,000, averaging $1,967. It also crept past the $80 million mark as its new total climbed to $80,465,726. While the $100 million mark is out of the question, "The Descendants" will end up the 4th highest grossing Fox Searchlight film ever.
Surprise best actress winner "The Iron Lady" saw a 29% uptick in grosses despite losing 11 screens this weekend. The Weinstein Company saw their Meryl Streep Oscar vehicle gross another $900,000 from 511 screens, averaging $1,761. That brought the film's total to a strong $27,056,004 -- though that is notably lower than any film to feature Streep in an Oscar nominated performance since 2002's "Adaptation."
Outside of the Oscar winner's circle, Sony Classics' Oscar-nominated foreign language film "In Darkness" expanded from 22 to 33 screens. The Holocaust-set Polish drama grossed $110,537 as a result, jumping 25% and averaging $3,350. The film's total now stands at $424,750.
While it didn't manage an Oscar nomination, Millennium Entertainment expanded Oren Moverman's "Rampart" from 45 to 52 screens in its fourth weekend of official release after its Oscar-qualifying run back in December. The result was a 19% rise in grosses and a decent $117,174 gross, averaging $2,253. The film's total now stands at $537,635.
Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin" jumped from 16 to 40 screens in its eighth weekend of its official theatrical run care of Oscilloscope. The result was a 252% jump, grossing a respectable $132,000 and averaging $3,300. Added to its Oscar-qualifying numbers from December, the Tilda Swinton starrer has now earned $817,720. A national expansion continues next weekend.
Finally, three new films made their way to the marketplace this weekend to very similar per-theater-averages.
Focus Features debuted Paul Weitz's "Being Flynn" on four screens and found a $45,546 gross. That made for a modest $11,386 average for the film, which stars Paul Dano and Robert DeNiro.
Meanwhile, Zeitgiest Films released Gianni Di Gregorio's Italian import "The Salt of Life" on two screens and found a $21,000 gross, averaging $10,500.
Paladin released 2011 Sundance alum "Boy" -- directed by Taika Waititi, in two New York theaters this weekend. The film grossed $23,390 at the Angelika and Lincoln Center's Elinor Bunin Munroe Theater, for a per screen average of $11,695.
The film expands to Los Angeles next weekend, before expanding to select markets across the country, including the SF Bay area on March 16, Seattle on March 23, and Boston and Washington on March 30.
Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.
Indiewire tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To be included in the Indiewire Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day each Monday.