Another weekend, another major Oscar contender starting out with a strong limited release. A week after “The Theory of Everything” posted a $40,000+ debut, “Foxcatcher” did the same, averaging $48,019 from 6 theaters to replace “Theory” as the fourth best limited debut of 2014, after “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Birdman” and “Boyhood.” Starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, the Bennett Miller-directed, Sony Pictures Classics-released film grossed $288,113 this weekend, very comparable to the $324,857 Miller’s “Capote” — also released by Sony Classics — grossed from 12 theaters in its first weekend back in 2005. That film went on to win a Best Actor Oscar and gross $28.8 million. Certainly both things “Foxcatcher” would be happy to achieve as well.
Standing in “Foxcatcher”‘s way — at least in terms of that Best Actor Oscar — are two films also in release: “The Theory of Everything” and “Birdman,” which feature performances from Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton both all but certain to net Oscar noms. Focus Features’ sent James Marsh’s “Theory” from 5 to 41 theaters in its second weekend, seeing a 253% jump in grosses as it took in $738,000, averaging an impressive $18,000 per theater.
stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and his first wife
Jane, and is based on Jane’s memoirs of her marriage to Stephen. It
debuted to strong reviews at the Toronto Film Festival, and clearly
Focus has golden dreams for the film in its near future.
distributor said that the film “had several theatres up 100% on Saturday over Friday and our original locations from last week are showing signs of great box office stamina.” Exit polling in expansion markets was “very strong,” as the film “continues to exhibit strong playability with audiences across a wide gender/age spectrum.”
“Theory” will expand to approximately 135 theaters.
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight took Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar hopeful “Birdman” from 462 to 857 theaters on Friday to more success. Grossing $2,450,000 the film managed a $2,859 average — putting it in the overall top 10. The film has now totaled $11,575,000 — outgrossing both “Biutiful” and “Amores Perros” to fall in the middle as far as Iñárritu’s top grossers go. “21 Grams” took in $16.3 million, while “Babel” grossed $34.3 million. It seems all but certain “Birdman” will at least fall somewhere in the middle of those films when all is said and done.
“Birdman” stars Michael Keaton as a washed-up Hollywood actor who once played a superhero. Aiming to reinvent his career, he tries adapting Raymond Carver’s short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” as a play.
The film has received glowing reviews, and Keaton is likely to be facing off with “Theory” star Redmayne and “Foxcatcher” star Carell in this year’s best actor Oscar race. All three have ever been nominated before.
Three other films opened to decent grosses this weekend as well: “Rosewater,” “The Homesman” and “Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas.” The former two have their own awards seasons hopes, though things are definitely not as certain for them as they are for the “Foxcatcher,” “Birdman” and “The Theory of Everything.” Either way, Jon Stewart’s directorial debut “Rosewater” opened to a decent $1,200,000 from 371 theaters for Open Road, while “The Homesman” — directed by Tommy Lee Jones and starring Hilary Swank — took in $48,000 from 4 theaters for Roadside Attractions/Saban Films. Their averages of $3,235 and $12,000 were, respectively, within expectation.
“Saving Christmas” is extremely unlikely to get any awards buzz, but Kirk Cameron’s Christian centric film did just fine as well, grossing $1,012,000 from 410 theaters for a $2,468 average. The film — which features Cameron as man enjoying the annual Christmas party extravaganza thrown by his sister until he realizes he needs to help out Christian — managed that healthy gross despite a 10% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Other notably holdover performers this weekend included
RADiUS-TWC and Participant Media’s “CITIZENFOUR” and Sony Pictures
In its fourth weekend, Laura Poitras’
critically lauded documentary “CITIZENFOUR” went from 59 to 75 theaters. Offering remarkable insight Edward Snowden and the NSA
the film grossed $180,000 to average a very healthy $2,468 as it
continues its expansion. The film has now grossed $951,00
and it is all but certain to become one of the few 2014 documentaries
to cross the $1 million mark.
“Whiplash,” meanwhile, continued a expansion this weekend as Sony Pictures Classics took the potential
Oscar contender from 88 to 419 theaters in its sixth weekend. It jumped 152% in grosses as a result, taking in $801,000 for a $1,912 average. The film’s total stands at
Head over to the next page for a chart of the weekend’s 15 best per-theater-averages.
The Weekend’s Specialty Top 10 (ranked in order of
per-theater-average, and only including films that both submitted
estimates and initially opened in under 500 theaters):
8. Awake: The Life of Yogananda (Counterpoint Films & Self-Realization Fellowship)
Weekend Gross: $41,600
Theaters: 15 (down from 21)
Total Gross: $551,800
Criticwire Average: N/A
9. Point and Shoot (The Orchard)
Weekend Gross: $5,097
Theaters: 2 (up from 1)
Total Gross: $16,383
Criticwire Average: A-
Read more about “Point and Shoot”
10. Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas (Samuel Goldwyn)
Weekend Gross: $1,012,000
Total Gross: $1,012,000
Criticwire Average: N/A
13. Dear White People (Roadside Attractions)
Weekend Gross: $205,000
Theaters: 106 (down from 178)
Total Gross: $3,906,000
Criticwire Average: B+
Read more about “Dear White People”
14. Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)
Weekend Gross: $801,000
Theaters: 419 (up from 88)
Total Gross: $2,482,000
Criticwire Average: A-
Read more about “Whiplash”
15. St. Vincent (The Weinstein Company)
Weekend Gross: $4,025,000
Theaters: 2,332 (down from 2,455
Total Gross: $33,258,000
Criticwire Average: B
Read more about “St. Vincent”
Peter Knegt is a contributing editor at Indiewire and our box office columnist. Follow him on Twitter.