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Box Office: ‘The Artist’ Has Best Weekend Yet As Oscar Hopefuls Dominate Specialty Box Office

Box Office: 'The Artist' Has Best Weekend Yet As Oscar Hopefuls Dominate Specialty Box Office

In its whopping 14th weekend of release, Michel Hazanavicius’s Oscar frontrunner “The Artist” had its best numbers yet.

According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, The Weinstein Company released film grossed $3,000,000 from 966 screens, up 23% from last weekend.  Averaging $3,106 per screen, the film’s total grew to $31,873,799 —  impressively now outgrossing fellow best picture nominees “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and “The Tree of Life” despite featuring no dialogue, color or notable stars. It’s also now the 10th highest grossing film in The Weinstein Company’s history, and should get another boost next weekend when it can very likely publicize its best picture win.

Oscar hopefuls were all over the specialty box office this weekend, many clearly aiming for as much ticket buys as possible before they go home empty handed Sunday night. Best documentary nominee”Undefeated” held steady on 5 screens in its second weekend, grossing a so-so $20,135.  Also released by The Weinstein Company, it averaged $4,027 and took its total to $71,017.

Drafthouse Films expanded another Oscar nominee — Belgium’s foreign language hopeful “Bullhead” — from 7  to 34 screens. The result was a $41,300 gross, averaging a mild $1,215. The film’s total now stands at $94,631.

Fresh off its surprise nomination for best animated feature — GKIDS expanded “Chico & Rita”  from 5 to 12 screens in its third weekend. A love story set in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the film grossed $40,457 as a result, giving it a $3,371 average and a new total of $118,516.

Also in its third weekend was Sony Classics’ Oscar-nominated foreign language film “In Darkness.” The Holocaust-set Polish drama expanded from 14 to 22 screens (10 of which were in Canada, where the film is being released by Mongrel Media) and grossed $91,352 averaging $4,152. The film’s total now stands at $280,777.

Holding on very strongly was another Sony Classics-released foreign language contender, Asghar Farhad’s Iranian drama “A Separation.”  Expanded from 54 screens to 83 in its ninth weekend, the film jumped 37% in grosses, taking in $422,891.  That gave it a $5,095 average (the second highest of any limited release), and fantastic new total of $2,589,421. With the likelihood of “A Separation” winning the foreign language Oscar strong, it could very well end up doubling that total when things are said and done. 

Also doing quite well was Sundance Selects’ Oscar-nominated documenatry “Pina,” which expanded from 79 to 84 screens in its tenth weekend. The Wim Wenders-directed 3D documentary that looks at the work of dance artist Pina Bausch grossed $213,105, averaging $2,537. That gave the substantial indie hit an excellent new total of $2,579,358, ahead of a further expansion.

Fox Searchlight’s release of Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” dropped off from 1,243 to 889 screens but managed to only lose 25% of its grosses. In its 15th weekend of release, it took in $2,200,000, averaging $2,475 (a higher average than last weekend). The new total of $78,526,693 makes it the fourth highest grossing Fox Searchlight release ever (behind fellow best picture nominees “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Juno” and “Black Swan”).

Focus Features’ thrice-nominated “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” dropped from 184 to 164 screens in its 12th weekend and took in another $373,296. Averaging $2,276, “Tinker” has now grossed $23,307,873.

A nominee for Meryl Streep’s performance, The Weinstein Company saw “The Iron Lady” cross the $25 million mark as it took in another $704,000 from 522 screens. Averaging $1,349, the film’s total now stands at $25,730,597. Though that is notably lower than any film to feature Streep in an Oscar nominated performance since 2002’s “Adaptation.”

A nominee for best costume design and another Weinstein Company released, Madonna’s “W.E.” dropped from 20 to 15 theaters and saw a 42% drop in grosses. It took in $30,633 over the weekend for a $2,042 average. That took the film’s total to $268,282 — and it shouldn’t climb much further beyond that.

While it didn’t end up managing an Oscar nomination, Millennium Entertainment expanded Oren Moverman’s “Rampart” from 28 to 45 screens in its third weekend of official release after its Oscar-qualifying run back in December. The result was a 19% drop (despite the new screen count) and a so-so $101,434 gross, averaging $2,254. The film’s total now stands at $378,527.

Lynne Ramsay’s “We Need To Talk About Kevin” held steady on 16 screens in the seventh weekend of its official theatrical run care of Oscilloscope. The result was a $40,000 gross and an average of $2,500. Added to its Oscar-qualifying numbers from December, “Kevin” has now earned $674,327. A national expansion begins March 2nd.

Finally, the weekend’s only reporting opener came care of Sundance Selects’ “The Forgiveness of Blood,” which was controversially disqualified from representing Albania at this year’s Oscars. Directed by Joshua Marston (“Maria Full of Grace”), the film found the highest per-theater-average of any film in release, taking in $32,301 from 3 screens for a $10,767 average. Sundance Selects noted the film played to sold out houses in New York and will expand into the top 20 markets in March.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Senior Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

Indiewire 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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