Aaron Katz "Cold Weather" was the only reporting opener in a 2011 specialty market that continues to be all about 2010 releases. According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, IFC Films' release of "Weather" - a pickup out of last year's SXSW Film Festival - is off to a solid start. On a sole NYC screen, the film grossed $15,100. Following Doug, a former forensic science major and avid reader of detective fiction who returns to his hometown of Portland, OR where he become embroiled in a mystery, "Weather" will expand beyond NYC in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Alejandro González Iñárritu "Biutiful" held up very well as it expanded quite aggressively for a foreign language film. In its second weekend of official release (though it had an Oscar qualifying run in December), the Javier Bardem-starrer expanded from 57 to 177 screens and grossed a strong $650,000. That made for a $3,672 per-theater-average and took its total to $1,434,000. Clearly aided by the perfect timing of its somewhat surprising best actor Oscar nomination, "Biutiful" is en route to becoming a sizable success story for distributor Roadside Attractions.
Beyond "Biutiful," other major Oscar nominees saw big bumps in what continues to be a very strong awards season economically. Frontrunner "The King's Speech" had an excellent weekend. Adding 27 theaters to bring its count to 2,584, the Tom Hooper directed feature film grossed a regal $8,310,000 over the weekend, landing in the #4 slot of the overall box office. "Speech" found a $3,216 average and a new total of $84,125,000 after 11 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 best picture nominee, "Black Swan," will also hit the $100 million soon. The film grossed $3,400,000 over the weekend, falling a reasonable 33% despite losing 338 screens. The film, on 1,977 screens in total, averaged $1,720 and took its total to a stunning $95,888,000 after 10 weeks. "Swan" is essentially assured crossing the $100 million mark in the next week, an incredible feat for the $13 million budgeted film, and a testament to Fox Searchlight's effective 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," is nowhere near the $100 million mark, but an Oscar-related expansion is helping push it toward $20 million. On 899 screens, the Danny Boyle directed film, starring Oscar host and nominee James Franco, grossed $1,370,000, averaging $1,524. "Hours" has now totalled $15,700,000, making it the second lowest grossing best picture nominee after "Winter's Bone."
Also notable was sole Oscar nominees like "Blue Valentine" (which got in for best actress Michelle Williams). Weinstein Company's "Valentine" - a year after its Sundance debut - took in $815,000 from an expanded 450 screens (up 35). Averaging $1,811, the gross brought "Valentine"'s total to $7,297,000. 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 7 screens to 131 in its eighth weekend. Starring Nicole Kidman as a woman grieving over the death of her son, the John Cameron Mitchell directed film grossed $118,000, averaging a weak $901 as it took its total to $1,720,000. 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 236 screens (up from 91). 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 $502,000 for a very respectable per-theater-average of $2,127. The Sony Classics film has now grossed $1,704,000 since opening December 29th.
Sony Classics also found good news from Oscar nominee Sylvain Chomet's "The Illusionist" (best animated feature) as it went from 25 to 68 theaters in its seventh weekend. Based on an unproduced work by Jacques Tati, the well-reviewed animated French import grossed $205,000 averaging $3,015. A 53% increase from last weekend, the film has totalled $784,000 from a very limited screen count.
Sony Classics got a makeup nomination out of Richard J. Lewis's "Barney's Version," which expanded from 39 to 45 theaters in its third frame and grossed $240,000. "Version," which stars Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike, averaged a quite strong $5,333 and has now totalled $903,000 as it continues to expand.
Another makeup nominee, Peter Weir's "The Way Back," struggled in its third weekend. The Newmarket Films release dropped 71% to a $147,000 gross on 145 screens. That made for a weak average of $1,014, a testament that Newmarket should not have gone so wide with the film. Its total now stands at $2,538,000.
Finally, it didn't manage any Oscar nominations, but The Weinstein Company's "The Company Men," which had a December qualifying run, is holding its own. On 231 screens, "Men" grossed a respectable $564,000 averaging $2,442. The film has totalled $2,341,000 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..