The very first film to debut theatrically after screening at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Gregg Araki's "Kaboom" found the highest per-theater-average of any film in release this weekend. Granted it was a single screen, but according to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today Araki's film - a sci-fi story centered on the sexual awakening of a group of college students - grossed $13,500 for distributor IFC Films. The film will expand to LA next weekend and top 15 markets throughout February.
Beyond "Kaboom," it was all about Oscar bumps. Even Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Biutiful" - the weekend's other major specialty debut (though it had an Oscar qualifying run in December) - had a strong opening likely in large part to its somewhat surprising best actor nomination for star Javier Bardem (in addition to its less surprising best foreign language film nod). On 57 screens in 27 markets - an aggressive opening for a foreign film - the film grossed $460,916 for a very respectable $8,084 average. Including the December qualifying run, "Biutiful" has now grossed $623,226.
"We couldn’t be more pleased with these numbers, which include a 54% increase from Fri to Sat., indicating good word of mouth," Howard Cohen of "Biutiful" distributor Roadside Attractions told indieWIRE today. "We’re expanding to about 200 screens next weekend, including a marketing and distribution initiative to the Latino audience."
Beyond "Biutiful," other major Oscar nominees saw big bumps in what continues to a very strong awards season economically. "The King's Speech" had an excellent weekend. Beyond the film surprising at the DGA Awards, the film itself held up very well. Adding 877 theaters to bring its count to 2,557, the Tom Hooper directed feature film grossed a regal $11,102,000 over the weekend, landing in the #5 slot of the overall box office despite playing on half the screens of its competitors. "Speech" found a $4,342 average and a new total of $72,217,000 after 10 weeks. That number should grow substantially - $100 million is a certainty - as the film is aided by its all-but-assured major Oscar wins.
Darren Aronofsky's best picture nominee "Black Swan" will also hit the $100 million shortly. The film grossed $5,100,000 over the weekend, falling just 13% despite losing 92 screens. The film - on 2,315 screens in total - averaged $2,203 and took ts total to a stunning $90,704,000 after 9 weeks. "Swan" is essentially assured crossing the $100 million mark in the next week or so, 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).
"Swan"'s Fox Searchlight sibling and fellow best picture nominee "127 Hours" expanded to a semi-wide 916 theaters (adding 847) and saw a 1629% surge in grosses, taking in $2,050,00 and averaging a decent $2,238. The Danny Boyle directed film - starring Oscar host and nominee James Franco - has now totalled $13,424,120, making it the second lowest grossing best picture nominee after "Winter's Bone."
Best picture nominees "True Grit" and "The Fighter" also both held on nicely, grossing $7,600,000 and $4,055,000, respectively, from very wide screen counts.. "Grit" saw a 4% boost in grosses despite losing 344 screens, and took its total to $148,388,000 (more than double the Coens' previous top moneymaker, "No Country For Old Men"). "The Fighter" lost 3% of its grosses despite losing 361 screens and took its total to $78,373,000.
Less major Oscar nominees like "Blue Valentine" (which got in for best actress Michelle Williams) also saw good numbers. Weinstein Company's "Valentine" - a year after its Sundance debut - took in $1,168,000 from an expanded 415 screens (up 173). It was a 33% boost over last weekend and brought "Valentine"'s total to a $4,520,530. For a $1 million budgeted film that faced controversy related to its now successfully appealed NC-17 rating from the MPAA, it seems "Blue Valentine" is en route to having a very happy ending.
Lionsgate's best actress nominee "Rabbit Hole" expanded 23 screens to 124 in its seventh weekend. Starring Nicole Kidman as a woman grieving over the death of her son, the John Cameron Mitchell directed film grossed $167,000, averaging a fair $1,347 as it took its total to $1,529,000. Despite an Oscar nomination and the starpower of Kidman, "Rabbit Hole" has still been outgrossed by both of Mitchell's previous films, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and "Shortbus."
Mike Leigh's screenplay nominee "Another Year" expanded in its fifth weekend from to 91 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 $330,000 for a per-theater-average of $3,626 and a new milestone. The Sony Classics film crossed the $1 million mark to total $1,123,000 since opening December 29th.
Sony Classics also found good news from Oscar nominee Sylvain Chomet's "The Illusionist" (best animiated feature) as it went from 15 to 25 theaters in its sixth weekend. Based on an unproduced work by Jacques Tati, the well-reviewed animated French import grossed $136,000, averaging $5,440. A 69% increase from last weekend, the film has totalled $540,000 from a very limited screen count.
Sony Classics got a makeup nomination out of Richard J. Lewis's "Barney's Version," which expanded from 16 to 39 theaters in its third frame and grossed $251,000. "Version," which stars Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike, averaged a quite strong $6,436 and has now totalled $587,000 as it continues to expand.
Another makeup nominee, Peter Weir's "The Way Back," struggled in its second weekend. The Newmarket Films release dropped 52% to a $579,000 gross on 595 screens. That made for a weak average of $973, a testament that Newmarket should not have gone so wide with the film.
Finally, it didn't manage any Oscar nominations, but The Weinstein Company's "The Company Men" - which had a December qualifying run - is doing pretty well. On 211 screens, "Men" grossed a respectable $688,000, averaging $3,261. The film has totalled $1,527,000 if the qualifying run is included.
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 email@example.com by the end of the day each Monday..