Studio chairmen and their marketing and distribution executives were meeting across town today talking about their future plans for their Best Picture Oscar films. And all have the same marching orders: Get the pictures nearing the end of their runs back into the nation’s theaters ASAP. To that end, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave, and Captain Phillips are adding theaters (some more than others), and those already in their runs — August: Osage County and Philomena are all getting big adds over the next two weeks (some more than others). Not all can take advantage of the noms as some films are way past their theatrical runs, but even a film like Blue Jasmine, which bowed this past summer and is headed to DVD next Tuesday, will add a tiny number of theaters.
The addition to the box office after a nom can be significant. The Artist was at $12.3M going into the nominations, and before it won its Best Picture it did another $19.5M. After the win, it made another $13M. The King’s Speech was at $58M prior to the nomination but grossed another $56M before Oscar night and another $25M after it won the big prize. The same holds true for Million Dollar Baby, which was at $8.8M when Oscar noms hit, made another $56.3M during the window between Oscar night and walked away not only with the Best Picture Oscar but tucked away another $36M at the box office afterward.
Warner Bros’ Gravity, which is at the end of its theatrical run having been released at the beginning of October, already has grossed a whopping $675M worldwide (thanks to former exec Jeff Robinov for pushing it through) and will be in 944 theaters this weekend. Its other Oscar-nominated picture Her is holding steady as she goes. “We’re thrilled that our pictures have gotten the recognition that they have,” said Warners head of distribution Dan Fellman. “We’re pleased that Her has gotten the recognition that we think it deserves. It’s great to see the film recognized.” Fellman said that they are not changing the strategy for the Spike Jonze picture. (That’s not surprising as it was a well-though-out distribution plan; WB guys are pros.)
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Speaking of pros, The Weinstein Co. — which garnered 11 nominations for its pictures, including best picture, actress and writing noms for Philomena and August: Osage County — is going hard and fast and wide with their pics. Osage County is going to 905 theaters from 2,051 runs this weekend, while the company is working towards2,000-plus theaters by the last week of January/first week of February for Philomena. Can it be done with the crunch at the nation’s theaters? “Yes. There is an untapped audience for it, and our exit polls are through the roof,” said distribution head Erik Lomis. (I saw the picture in the Landmark Theatre weeks ago and afterward, the audience burst into applause — something I’m hearing happened to others when they went to see the film.) It’s following a similar pattern of The King’s Speech: older audience, strong word-of mouth.
In the meantime, 12 Years a Slave has already said it’s going wider. The Fox Searchlight film, which was nearing the end of its run, is upping to 757 theaters (up from 114 the weekend before) and are planning to get 1,000 more theaters by the end of January. Sony’s American Hustle is already playing, three-quarters of the way into its run and going into this weekend down 425 theaters. It has grossed about $104M since being released on December 13, but the studio’s Captain Phillips added theaters, up 903 last night from 112 last weekend. That picture was at the tail end of its run and already has grossed $105M, and plans were to re-release it into about 1,000 theaters.
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Michael Barker, co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics, was at the Sundance Film Festival when he received the news about the Oscar noms for Blue Jasmine. Woody Allen’s latest — which was the only good thing to come out of the Bernie Madoff affair — received three nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. “It’s obvious they recognized Sally Hawkins for her pure performance and that is how it should be. She was nominated this year and she was so busy, so was not able to do a lot of press, so it’s so great that she was recognized. Both she and Cate [Blanchett] are so talented.” Blue Jasmine comes out on DVD on January 21, but it is still playing in theaters, and Barker promises that “we’re going to take a few more runs up for the film this weekend.” After praising Before Midnight for its writing noms, Barker noted, “I was worried The Invisible Woman would be passed over, but it got a nomination so we’re pleased with that, too.” (The Ralph Fiennes period drama garnered a nomination for costume design.) The film, which has been in limited release, will expand in theaters on January 24 and then again on January 31. Even one of the feature-length documentary nominated films is getting into the act: The Act of Killing will increase it’s theater runs from four to at least 15 markets this weekend.