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Box Office: Oscar Surprise “Kells” Breaks IFC Center Record; Polanski’s “Ghost” Still Big

Box Office: Oscar Surprise "Kells" Breaks IFC Center Record; Polanski's "Ghost" Still Big

Tomm Moore’s “The Secret of Kells” – which surprised everyone by picking up a nomination for a Best Animated Feature Oscar – opened on a sole screen at the IFC Center in New York this Oscar weekend, and surprised everyone again. According to weekend estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon, the film grossed $40,715 over the weekend, selling out all its Saturday shows and finding the biggest single-screen opening weekend gross ever for the IFC Center. While that’s not as impressive as say, “Alice in Wonderland”‘s massive $116.3 million haul, it’s a promising number for the GKIDS-released film, and the second best specialty per-theater-average of the year behind Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer.”

“We are just thrilled beyond words at the record-breaking reception New York audiences have given to The Secret of Kells, and how amazing that this good news comes on the very same day when the film is a nominee at the Academy Awards,” Eric Beckman, president of GKIDS, told indieWIRE. “It has been an amazing ride so far, and we now look forward to expanding our release even further and giving audiences in other markets an opportunity to experience the film.”

“The Ghost Writer,” meanwhile, continued to find fantastic numbers in its expansion. The Summit Entertainment-released film went to 147 screens in it’s third weekend, grossing a strong $1,300,000 and averaging $9,068. That brought the Ewan McGregor-Pierce Brosnan political thriller’s total to $2,600,000 as it continues its expansion, and essentially assure its status as one of 2010’s first big specialty hits. The film will continue to expand March 12th, adding an additional 100 theaters.

Summit also had good news with their big Oscar hope this weekend. Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” was re-released into theaters, despite being on DVD for some time, hoping to benefit from its frontrunner status at tonight’s ceremony. It provided a success with the film taking in $439,000 from its 274 screens, averaging $1,601 and taking its total to $14,700,000. Though that still would make it the lowest grossing best-picture winner in fifty-odd years if it wins.

Sony Classics continued to get the most out of their Oscar hopefuls as well. Jacques Audiard’s best foreign-language film nominee “A Prophet” grossed $264,978 on 30 screens (up from 9 last week), averaging a potent $8,833 and taking its total to $517,605 as it continues to expand post-Oscars.

The distributor also found continued success from the best actress/best supporting actor hopeful “The Last Station.” In its eighth weekend, Michael Hoffman’s film, starring Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer is Oscar-nominated performances, grossed $837,423 from 352 screens (up a slight 2 from last weekend), averaging $2,366 and bringing its cume to $4,647,544.

And in its whopping twenty-second weekend, Sony Classics boosted best picture hopeful “An Education” up to 223 screens (from 209 last weekend), and saw a 28% boost in grosses, taking in $409,000 and topping out at $12,088,000. That makes it one of the distributor’s ten best non-IMAX releases ever.

Sony Classics tied for the most Oscar nominations for a distributor with The Weinstein Company, who gave their “A Single Man” one last expansion this weekend, bringing it up 112 screens to 354. It resulted in a 53% boost for the Tom Ford-directed drama, grossing $455,000 and taking its total to $8,593,000.

Finally, in non-Oscar related news, Zeitgeist films released the doc “Harlan – In the Shadow of Jew Suss” this past Wednesday on one screen. Over the weekend, the film found quite decent numbers (especially considering how competitive the weekend was), grossing $9,354 and totalling $13,776 over its first five days of release.

indieWIRE:BOT tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To be included in the indieWIRE Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday..

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