After weeks of 2013 holdovers leading the 2014 specialty box office fray, two new foreign language films -- both coming off lengthy and popular runs on the film festival circuit -- managed to give the year its first strong debuts.
From Chile, Sebastián Lelio's "Gloria" debuted in 3 theaters care of Roadside Attractions. The result was a $58,775 gross, averaging $19,592 per theater. That's a very strong number despite the film losing out on attention from the Oscars, where it was submitted by Chile -- and then snubbed by the Academy -- in the foreign language category. The film will expand to new markets for January 31st and will be on approximately 20 screens.
French import "Stranger By The Lake," meanwhile, also opened nicely. Directed by Alain Guiraudie, the gay cruising lake-set thriller debuted on two New York City screens (Lincoln Center and the IFC) and took in $26,741 for a very respectable average of $13,370. Distributed by Strand Releasing, "Stranger" will also expand in the coming weeks.
Also opening was Godfrey Reggio's "Visitors," an experimental documentary which looks at humanity's trance-like relationship with technology. Considering the content, its $10,742 gross from a single theater is certainly a reasonable number for distributor Cinedigm, and bodes well for future expansion.
As for holdovers, it was all about the Oscar hopefuls.
Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" -- which received 9 Oscar nominations including best picture -- added 470 theaters in its 15th weekend, bringing the total to a new high of 1,231. That resulted in a $2,015,000 gross, averaging a respectable $1,637. "12 Years" has now grossed $43.5 million.
Fellow best picture nominee "Philomena" held steady in 502 theaters, but The Weinstein Company only saw a 18% drop as the film took in $1,031,000 for a very strong $2,042 average. The film has now totaled $25.8 million after 10 weeks.
Buyers Club" -- which received 6 nominations including best picture --
added 691 theaters (giving it a new high of 1,110 overall) in its 13th weekend. The
result was a $2,045,000 gross and a $1,842 average. "Dallas" has now
grossed $20.4 million.
The Weinstein Company's "August: Osage County" got Oscar nods for both Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep, and went all out trying to capitalize on it, pushing the theater count to 2,441 (up 360 from last weekend). The Tracy Letts adaptation took in a very nice $5,041,000 from its further wide push, averaging $2,091. After 5 weeks, "August" has grossed $26.5 million.
Ten week old "Nebraska," which got nods for best picture, best director and for actors Bruce Dern and June Squibb, jumped 560 theaters to 968. That resulted in a 62% increase in grosses, taking in $1,435,000 for a $1,482 average and a new total of $11,602,974. It still remains the lowest grossing of the best picture nominees.
Italy's "The Great Beauty," which is competing in Oscar's best foreign language category, had a strong 11th weekend. Released in the US via Janus Films, the film grossed $108,893 from 51 theaters to average $2,135 and take its total to $1,455,909. It is by far the highest grossing film ever for Janus Films, which over a month left to capitalize on Oscar (and longer if it wins).