Dallas Buyers Club

It was all about Oscar hopefuls at the specialty box office this weekend, as three in particular expanded to strong numbers.

"Dallas Buyers Club" expanded nicely in its second weekend, with the Jean-Marc Vallée-directed film grossing $629,038 from 35 theaters (up from 9), averaging a strong $17,972 per theater.  That's a very respectable number for such a crowded marketplace filled with Oscar hopefuls bidding for the same adult audiences.

The Focus Features-released film stars best actor Oscar contender Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof, a homophobic drug addict who was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 Dallas, Texas and is given 30 days to live.  To save his life and the lives of others, he smuggles anti-viral medications into Dallas from all over the world, selling them through the "Dallas Buyers Club" to work around legalities (with the help of a trans woman played by Jared Leto, also an Oscar contender here).

"'Dallas Buyers Club' had another very strong box office weekend in both new and holdover theaters," Focus Features said. The film's momentum is evident in the impressive 61% BO increase from Friday to Saturday -- a sign that positive word-of-mouth and critical acclaim are helping to drive the grosses."

The film's total stands at $984,532 as it continues to expand through November.

Another major Oscar hopeful went wide this weekend as Fox Searchlight pushed Steve McQueen's potential best picture frontrunner from 410 to 1,144 theaters. The result was a #7 finish in the overall top 10, taking in $6,600,000  for an $5,769 average. After four weekends, "12 Years" has grossed an excellent $17,345,581.

No more boats.
No more boats.

"Dallas Buyers" and "12 Years" stars Matthew McConaughey and Chiwetel Ejiofer are likely to both be nominated for best actor at the Oscars, alongside another actor whose film is currently in theaters, Robert Redford in "All Is Lost." In its fourth weekend, Roadside Attractions is seeing some considerable (sea) legs from its Robert Redford starrer "All Is Lost." After a so-so debut, the man-lost-at-sea opus has been holding on exceptionally well in expansion, taking in $1,203,103 in its fourth frame in 401 theaters. That made for a $3,030 average and a new total of $2,870,731.

Another best actor hopeful, Bruce Dern, arrives in theaters next weekend with Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," adding further to the crowded late fall marketplace.

While its ineligible for the foreign language Oscar due to not making the release deadline in its native France (though it did just get multiple European Film Award noms), Palme d'Or winning lesbian relationship drama "Blue is the Warmest Color" continued to do strong business in its third weekend, considering its NC-17 rating and 3 hour length.  Going from 37 to 71 theaters, "Blue" grossed $254,180 for a $3,580 per-theater-average. That pushed its cume to $754,209 and suggests it could likely become only the 15th NC-17 rated film to gross over $1 million in the coming week. Distributor Sundance Selects will push it to the top 50 markets next weekend, smartly expanding somewhat aggressively to capitalize on the considerable attention the film has been getting in the mainstream press.

One film that was indeed submitted in the foreign category -- for Belgium -- also expanded this weekend. Tribeca Films' release of "The Broken Circle Breakdown" (also a major player at the European Film Awards) expanded from 1 to 2 theaters to the tune of a $5,047 gross, averaging an unspectacular $2,523.  Its a rare Tribeca release that has foregone the distributor's traditional day and date release pattern and given a standard theatrical window. Its total now stands at $13,569 before further expansion in the coming weeks.

Finally, two doc with their own Oscar hopes opened this weekend. Alex Gibney's "The Armstrong Lie" -- released by Sony Pictures Classics -- debuted in  5 theaters and grossed $30,904 for a so-so $6,181 per-theater-average.

 Frederick Wiseman's "At Berkeley," meanwhile, opened in two theaters in New York. With grosses severely limited by the film's 4-hour plus running time - just two shows a day at the Elinor Bunin Monroe along with three at the IFC Center (one of them being a 1030am screening) -- the film did quite well, grossing an estimated $6,075 for a per-theater-average of $3,038.

The Zipporah Films release will open Los Angeles next weekend and the San Francisco Bay area on December 6.