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Box Office: "Way Back," "Company Men" Debut As Oscar Hopefuls Keep It Coming (UPDATED)

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire January 23, 2011 at 9:9AM

Newmarket Films opened Peter Weir's "The Way Back" this weekend on a considerably wide 678 theaters. According to estimates provided by Rentrak, however, the results were not spectacular. The film, starring Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris and Colin Farrell, grossed $1,465,158, averaging $2,161. Though certainly not disastrous, the numbers don't suggest a hopeful future for the film, particularly because the film - which had an Oscar qualifying run in December - isn't gaining much traction this awards season.
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Newmarket Films opened Peter Weir's "The Way Back" this weekend on a considerably wide 678 theaters. According to estimates provided by Rentrak, however, the results were not spectacular. The film, starring Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris and Colin Farrell, grossed $1,465,158, averaging $2,161. Though certainly not disastrous, the numbers don't suggest a hopeful future for the film, particularly because the film - which had an Oscar qualifying run in December - isn't gaining much traction this awards season.

Fairing much better was The Weinstein Company's debut of John Well's "The Company Men" - which also had a December qualifying run. Debuting on 106 screens, "Men" grossed a respectable $767,000, averaging $7,236. The film has totalled $810,000 if the qualifying run is included.

Also debuting was IFC Films's release of Sang-soo Im's "The Housemaid," which grossed a decent $18,200 from two NYC screens, averaging $9,100. The film will expand to LA next weekend and the top 15 markets throughout the month of February.

Overall, the rest of the weekend's specialty box office news consisted mostly of Oscar hopefuls.

Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" maintained box office momentum. The film grossed $6,200,000 over the weekend from a slightly expanded 2,407 theaters, averaging $2,576 and taking its total to a stunning $83,580,631 after 8 weeks. "Swan" is essentially assured crossing the $100 million mark, an incredible feat for the $13 million budgeted film, and a testament to Fox Searchlight's smart release strategy (and obviously also to how well the film has played across demographics).

"The King's Speech" also had an excellent weekend. Beyond the film surprising at the PGA Awards, the film itself held up very well. Adding 137 theaters to bring its count to 1,680, the Tom Hooper directed feature film grossed a regal $9,164,299 over the weekend, landing in the #4 slot of the overall box office despite playing on half the screens of its competitors. "Speech" found a $5,455 average and a new total of $58,623,270 after 9 weeks. That number should grow substantially as the film continues to expand and is aided by its all-but-assured big batch of Oscar nominations ($100 million is not out of the question for the $15 million budgeted film).

Less assured major Oscar nominations but a considerable success story in its own right is another Weinstein film, Derek Cianfrance's "Blue Valentine." The Michelle Williams-Ryan Gosling relationship drama has clearly piqued an interest from audiences, grossing a strong $938,323 from 242 theaters (up 12) over the weekend. That gave the $1 million production a $3,877 average and a new total of $4,520,530. Nearly a year after its Sundance Film Festival debut, and after the controversy related to its successfully appealed NC-17 rating from the MPAA, it seems "Blue Valentine" is en route to having a Hollywood ending.

Also faring well was Richard J. Lewis's "Barney's Version," which expanded from 4 to 16 theaters in its sophomore frame and grossed $160,840 for Sony Pictures Classics. "Version," which stars Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike, averaged $10,053. Including its Oscar qualifying run in December, that takes "Version" to a promising $303,043 total as it heads into further expansion.

Sony Classics also found good news as Mike Leigh's "Another Year" expanded slightly in its fourth weekend from 13 to 45 screens. Detailing a year in the life of a long married couple (Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent) and their rather dysfunctional friends (notably alcoholic Mary, played by Lesley Manville), "Year" grossed $227,864 for a per-theater-average of $5,064. The film has now totalled $733,885 since opening December 29th.

Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere," meanwhile, expanded from 53 to 83 theaters in its fourth weekend, and found fair numbers. The Focus Features release, which stars Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning as a movie star and his daughter struggling to connect, grossed $202,324 over the weekend, averaging $2,438 and taking its total to $1,305,904.

Sylvain Chomet's "The Illusionist" went from 7 to 15 theaters in its fifth weekend. Based on an unproduced work by Jacques Tati, the well-reviewed animated French import grossed $88,157, averaging $5,877. Since opening Christmas Day, the Sony Pictures Classics-released film has totalled $378,542 from a very limited screen count.

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

indieWIRE:BOT 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 studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday..