By Peter Knegt | Indiewire December 22, 2013 at 12:54PM
Spike Jonze's "Her" and Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" both joined a very crowded marketplace this weekend to respectable results. The former -- notably taking the limited release route despite being a studio film -- grossed $257,815 from 6 theaters for a $42,969 average, among the 10 highest of 2013. Its total now stands at $361,494 (it had opened on Wednesday). This bodes well for the film's early 2014 wide expansion, which is also benefit from a trio of Golden Globe nominations, including best picture and best actor for Joaquin Phoenix.
The latter -- Golden Globe nominated for best foreign film but coming off a snub from the Oscars in that category -- opened in 3 theaters care of Sony Pictures Classics and took in $30,942. That made for a $10,314 average as it heads into expansion in the coming weeks.
As for holdovers, Joel & Ethan Coen's
"Inside Llewyn Davis" expanded from 15 to 148 theaters in its third weekend. That made for a $1,061,000 gross and a $7,169 average, the highest average of any indie holdover.
The CBS Films release has now grossed $2,112,150.
In its fourth weekend Justin Chadwick's biopic of the late Nelson Mandela "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom" dropped 19% as it remained static in 4 theaters. Taking in $28,472, The Weinstein Company release averaged $7,118 and took its total to $292,234 before it finally expands next weekend.
The Weinsteins' five week old "Philomena" dropped from 835 to 738 theaters and fell a reasonable 33%. The film -- which stars Golden Globes nominees Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in the real life story of a woman searching for the son that was taken from her decades earlier -- grossed $1,225,000 to total $13,336,552
Six week old "Nebraska," which similarly follows intergenerational lead characters on a road trip of discovery, expanded from 250 to 310 theaters. The film -- starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte -- still dropped 36% as a result, taking in $580,000 for a $1,871 average. The $12 million-budgeted, Alexander Payne-directed film has now grossed $4,385,366.
The film -- released via Paramount Vantage -- has been garnering Oscar buzz for Dern's performance since Cannes, where he won the best actor prize. Likely among Bruce Dern's main competition for the best actor Oscar (and all fellow nominees for Golden Globes), Matthew McConaughey and Chiwetel Ejiofer all saw their films try and hold on in a crowded specialty market this weekend as well.
In its seventh weekend, McConaughey's "Dallas Buyers Club" dropped from 574 to 300 theaters and fell 70%, taking in $348,804. That made for a $1,057 average as the Focus Features-released film's total grew to $15,122,080.
stars 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, who seems like the frontrunner for a best supporting actor Oscar).
Fox Searchlight dropped Ejiofer's "12 Years a Slave" from 497 to 301 theaters. The result was a $365,000 gross and an $1,213 average. After ten weekends, Golden Globe favorite "12 Years" (it got 7 nominations overall) has grossed $37,075,226.
A film that is competing in the foreign language race had a strong fifth weekend. Paolo Sorrentino's "The Great
Beauty" -- submitted care of Italy (and on the just announced Oscar shortlist) -- went from 35 to 42 screens, and took in $68,780. Considering the
running time of the film is 142 minutes, these numbers were notably
achieved with a limited schedule of showtimes each day. They resulted in a $1,638 average and a new total of $646,613.
Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Senior Writer and box office columnist. Follow him on Twitter.