By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 2, 2014 at 4:25PM
While everyone's talking about the Oscars, there were actual movies screening in theaters this weekend too, and they weren't all ones with golden dreams tonight. Sony Pictures Classics released Indian import "The Lunchbox" -- which many felt the country should have submitted to the Oscars (they submitted "The Good Road" instead, which did not get nominated) -- in 4 theaters in LA and NY. The result was a very strong $51,325 -- averaging $17,108 per theater. Directed by Ritesh Batra, the acclaimed film stars Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Also debuting to strong numbers was a film that was indeed included among this year's Oscar nominees (and the last to finally find theatrical release): GKIDS's "Ernest & Celestine," which is up for best animated feature. On a single screen, the French import grossed $15,611, which bodes well as it expands in the coming week.
Cinedigm released David Grovic's "The Bag Man" in 2 theaters. The film -- which stars John Cusack, Rebecca Da Costa and Robert De Niro -- grossed $28,449 for a decent $14,240 average. Meanwhile, Codeblack and Lionsgate released Anthony Mackie-Forest Whitaker starrer in a much more aggressive 152 theaters, and also found good results: It grossed $530,000 for a respectable $3,487 average.
Not faring so well was Sundance Selects' release of Germany's entry into this year's Oscars (though it was not nominated), Georg Maas and Judith Kaufmann's "Two Lives." On a single screen, the film grossed $1,364.
As for holdovers, IFC Films' documentary "Elaine Stitch: Shoot Me" held on respectably in weekend two, grossing $21,735 from 6 theaters (up from 2) for a $3,623 average (the film's total now stands at $61,197). Adopt Films, meanwhile, took its Oscar-nominated foreign language film "Omar" from 51 to 53 theaters. The result was a $147,000 gross and a $2,774 average, which are not bad numbers at all given the screen count. The film's total stands at a potent $410,000.
China Lion Film's first Wanda Media release, "Beijing Love Story" went from 12 down to 11 theaters in weekend three and grossed $42,000, averaging $3,818. The Chen Sicheng-directed romance has already totaled a nice $387,000 after 17 days.
Two films snubbed in the Oscar race held on decently in fifth and sixth weekends, respectively. Penn & Teller's doc "Tim's Vermeer" expanded from 22 to 53 theaters care of Sony Pictures Classics and took in $145,966 -- averaging $2,754. Edited down from a remarkable 2,400 hours of footage, the film follows the epic quest of Penn & Teller's buddy Tim Jenison, an inventor based in San Antonio whose creations include the NewTek firm, the videotoaster, an airplane made entirely from elements that he bought at WalMart, and a lip-synching duck. Tim's latest project is attempting to prove a theory that 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer employed technology in painting his works. The film's total now stands at $507,996 with more to come.
Sebastián Lelio's "Gloria" dropped from 112 to 103 theaters
care of Roadside Attractions. The result was still a strong $166,400 gross,
$1,616 per theater. The film was submitted to the Oscars by Chile --
and then snubbed by the Academy -- in the foreign language category.
Its total now stands at a fantastic $1,610,457, making it one of the very few breakout specialty releases of 2014 so far.
As for the rest of holdovers, it was indeed all about the major Oscar nominees.
Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" -- which received 9 Oscar nominations including best picture -- added 62 theaters in its whopping 20th weekend, taking the total to 411 and crossing the $50 million mark in the process. It managed a $900,000 gross, averaging $2,190 as it jumped 72% in the final days before Oscar night. "12 Years" has now grossed $50,260,365.
Fellow best picture nominee "Philomena," meanwhile, added 93 theaters to take its total 1,097 (notably the highest current count of any best picture nominee -- including studio offerings "American Hustle" and "The Wolf of Wall Street"), and The Weinstein Company saw a 2% jump as the film took in $1,224,000 for a strong $1,116 average. The film has now totaled $34.6 million after 15 weeks.
"Dallas Buyers Club" -- which received 6 nominations including best picture -- added 41 theaters (giving it a total of 216 overall) in its 18th weekend (and notably is now also out on DVD). The result was a $427,000 gross and a $1,977 average. "Dallas" has now grossed $25.3 million for Focus Features.
Weinstein Company's "August: Osage County" got Oscar nods for both
Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep, and held on to 346 theaters (down 179 from last weekend). The Tracy Letts
adaptation took in $246,000 as a result, averaging
$711. After 10 weeks, "August" has grossed an impressive $37.1 million.
Thirteen week old "Nebraska," which got nods for best picture, best director and for actors Bruce Dern and June Squibb, added 79 theaters to 289. That resulted in a 6% drop in grosses, taking in $405,000 for a $1,402 average and a new total of $17.1 million. It still remains the lowest grossing of the best picture nominees -- and the only one with a total gross under $20 million.
Finally, Italy's "The Great Beauty," which is competing in Oscar's best foreign language category, continued past $2 million mark. Released in the US via Janus Films, the film grossed $97,938 from 48 theaters to average $2,040 and take its total to a great of $2,232,434. It is by far the highest grossing film ever for Janus Films and as well in the foreign language film category this year. No other nominee even crossed $1 million.