By Peter Knegt | Indiewire January 25, 2009 at 6:9AM
Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" led a group of expanding Oscar nominees at the box office this weekend, according to estimates provided by Rentrak early this afternoon. Fox Searchlight 10-time nominee added 829 screens, topping out at 1,411. It managed to maintain a $7,477 per-theater average, the highest of any film - limited or wide - reporting. Its $10,550,000 gross pushed its total to $55,915,616 with four frames left before Oscar weekend.
Additionally, "Slumdog" opened in India on 351 screens this past weekend, and now holds the record as having the 3rd highest opening day numbers amongst all Hollywood studio releases in India ever (after "Spiderman 3" and "Casino Royale"). The box office increased by over 33% on its second day of release. Its total Indian box office for the weekend is just under $2 million US.
"Slumdog"'s closest competitors Stateside (in terms of per-theater averages) were the more minimally nominated "The Wrestler" and "Waltz With Bashir." Fellow Searchlight release "Wrestler," which took two acting nods, expanded from 144 to 566 screens and grossed $3,700,000 for a $6,537 average and a $9,511,967 total. "Waltz," a foreign language nominee, went from 9 to 25 screens and grossed $153,394 for a $6,136 average. The Sony Pictures Classics release has now grossed $737,569.
Not fairing quite as well were some of "Slumdog"'s fellow best picture nominees. Stephen Daldry's "The Reader," which got some unexpected love from the Academy, didn't expand this weekend, actually reducing its screen count by 50. It still managed to boost its gross by 10%, but its $3,858 average remains relatively mild. After seven frames, The Weinstein Company release has grossed $9,674,000, making it the lowest grossing of the best picture nominees.
Gus Van Sant's 8-time nominee "Milk" added 25 screens, also seeing a 10% rise in grosses. Managing $864,000 on 250 screens, the Focus Features release's $3,456 average helped bring its total to $21,632,000 after nine weeks. Its average was ahead of fellow nominees "Frost/Nixon" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," which found $2,750 and $2,651 respectively. Though "Button"'s total now stands at an impressive $111,044,000, by far the highest of the nominees.
Mostly snubbed "Revolutionary Road" expanded anyway this weekend and actually faired much better than the film Kate Winslet was actually nominated for. On 1,058 screens (up 887), the film grossed $5,268,000, averaging $4,979 and bringing its total to $11,866,903.
Three notable films actually opened this weekend, Strand Releasing's "Of Time and The City," Magnolia Pictures' "Donkey Punch," and The Weinstein Company's intensely under-the-radar Mickey Rourke vehicle, "Killshot." "City" was the definite winner among the trio, taking in $5,943 from its sole screen. "Punch" managed less than that on 2 screens, grossing $4,525 for a $2,262. "Killshot," meanwhile, which stars Rourke, Diane Lane and Rosario Dawson and is directed by John Madden, opened on 5 screens and grossed $10,060 for a $2,010.