While the specialty box office was dominated by Oscar nominees, a couple of snubbed films tried to make the best of the buzz that came with almost being nominated.
First and foremost was Daniel Barnz's "Cake," which earned Jennifer Aniston Golden Globe and SAG nominations -- but missed out at the Oscars. The film -- which also stars Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Anna Kendrick and Adriana Barraza (all notably past Oscar nominees -- went with an aggressive release strategy, opening in 482 theaters. The result wasn't especially hopeful, as "Cake" grossed $1,003,000 for a so-so $2,081 average. By no means a disaster, but one has to wonder what that number would have been had Aniston ended up with an Oscar nomination.
Also opening were two films snubbed in the Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Language Film categories, respectively. Sony Classics sent Gabe Polsky's doc "Red Army" -- which details the Soviet Union's dominance of hockey during the Cold War -- to 3 theaters and saw a respectable $20,100 gross and a $6,700 average.
Meanwhile, Roadside Attractions release Xavier Dolan's "Mommy" in 4 theaters. It grossed $21,000 for a $5,765 average. The critically acclaimed film had been Canada's entry into the foreign language Oscar race, but it didn't make the shortlist. Dolan and company can take solace in the fact that the film is already a massive hit in both Canada and Europe. It grossed a stunning $3.1 million in its native Quebec alone, which considering the Canadian province only has 8.2 million residents is the equivalent of a film grossing nearly $100 million in the United States.
As for the Oscar nominees, Sony Pictures Classics move to hold off on releasing "Still Alice" until the weekend after the Oscar nominations continued to pay off. Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland's film -- which is all but certain to earn Julianne Moore her first Oscar -- went from 12 to 38 theaters in its second weekend. It grossed $411,000 as a result, averaging a promising $10,816 and taking its total to $715,000.
Ava DuVernay's "Selma" also didn't do as well with the Oscar nominations as most folks hoped, though it did nab a Best Picture nomination. That surely helped it gross another $5,500,000 from 2,046 theaters this weekend. The film averaged $2,688 and now has a total gross of $39,220,000 after five weekends. It should easily be able to ride Oscar buzz to a final gross north of $50 million.
Also in their fifth weekends were two of 2014's Oscar-nominated foreign language films. Sundance Selects expanded Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne's Marion Cotillard-led "Two Days, One Night" from 15 to 32 theaters. It grossed $114,000 and averaged $3,563. Its total now stands at $424,000 with the $1 million mark a certainty. Sony Pictures Classics, meanwhile, expanded Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Leviathan" from 6 to 11 theaters to the tune of a $72,4000 gross. The film averaged $6,682 and brought its cume to $272,100.
Both films were selected to represent their countries -- Belgium and Russia, respectively -- at this year's Oscars, though only "Leviathan" made the cut. But "Two Days" got an even more marketable nomination anyway with Cotillard's surprise Best Actress bid. In the end, it seems both will end up foreign language box office success stories.
Mike Leigh's Oscar nominated "Mr. Turner" held on to 43 theaters this weekend and took in a solid $162,000 -- averaging $3,767. The film -- a biopic of painter J.M.W. Turner, has now grossed $1,851,000 after 6 weekends, and looks like it has a good shot at matching the $3,205,706 Leigh's "Another Year" grossed back in 2010.
Nominated for two acting Oscars, Jean-Marc Vallée's "Wild" -- already a big hit -- took in $946,000 from 505 theaters this weekend. That made for a $1,873 average and brought it to $34,709,000 after 8 weeks. It now tops Vallée's 2013 film "Dallas Buyers Club," which ended with $27.3 million after winning three Oscars (while "Wild" is unlikely to win any).
Passing fellow Best Picture nominee "The Grand Budapest Hotel" this weekend to become the highest grossing indie release of 2014 was The Weinstein Company's "The Imitation Game." The Morten Tyldum-directed Alan Turing biopic expanded from 1,611 to 2,025 theaters to gross a very strong $7,136,000. "Game" has now grossed $60,642,000, and is still pacing slightly ahead of the Weinsteins' major 2010 hit "The King's Speech," which had grossed just over $57 million by its ninth weekend via a very similar release strategy. Of course, it then went on to gross $135 million and win Best Picture. Clearly those are goals "Game" aspires to as well.
Three films featuring performances Cumberbatch is up against at the Oscars all had notable weekends in their own right. "Foxcatcher" held onto 516 theaters in its 11th weekend. Starring Channing Tatum and Oscar nominees Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, the Bennett Miller-directed, Sony Pictures Classics-released film grossed $581,000 and averaged $1,126. The film's total now stands at $10,985,000.
Focus Features' release of James Marsh's Best Picture nominee "The Theory of Everything" went from 509 to 858 theaters this weekend. It took in $1,300,000 as a result, averaging $1,515 per theater and taking its total to $29,093,000. "Theory" stars Oscar nominees Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane, and is based on Jane's memoirs of her marriage to Stephen.
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight expanded Alejandro González Iñárritu's Oscar nomination-leading "Birdman" from 471 to 833 theaters on Friday. It took in $1,915,000 and averaged $2,299, with a total now standing at $30,913,000 as it continues to try and capitalize on its Oscar nominations (and potential wins). The film stars Oscar frontrunner Michael Keaton as a washed-up Hollywood actor who once played a superhero. Aiming to reinvent his career, he tries adapting Raymond Carver's short story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" as a play.
Two Best Picture nominees that had their debuts a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival -- Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" and Damien Chazelle's "Whiplash" -- also added some box office to their totals this weekend. The former, which has been out for 29 weekends now, took in another $197,000 from 197 theaters in large part to its many major Oscar nominations. Its total now stands at $24,919,000. "Whiplash," meanwhile, added $787,000 to its tally from 567 theaters (up from 189), taking its total to $7,600,000. "Whiplash" is notably the second lowest grossing Notably the two films only cost $4 million and $3.3 million to make, respectively -- making them among the cheapest Best Picture nominees ever (if one adjusts for inflation).
Finally, while A24's awards season timed release of JC Chandor's "A Most Violent Year" did not result in any Oscar nominations, the film moved along nicely in its fourth weekend anyway. "Year" expanded from 39 to 68 theaters and jumped 61%, grossing $456,000 for a $6,706 average. It as now totaled $1,354,000 ahead of its nationwide expansion next weekend.
Check out a chart of the weekend's best per-theater-averages on the next page.