With the Super Bowl hanging over the weekend, the small films debuting in the specialty box office have had a relatively tepid time of it amidst Oscar-nominated holdovers. Still Alice, starring the Oscar-nominated Julianne Moore, expanded decently and Focus took undersea thriller Black Seastarring Jude Law, into another 300-plus theaters.
The good news in the so-so weekend is that short films are making news (and maybe even a little money) once again. Magnolia Pictures opened this year’s collection of Oscar-nominated shorts in 110 theaters, even larger than the robust run of  last year’s group.
The Oscar short films in the animated, documentary and live-action categories have been packaged into a single global release for a decade now, building momentum for this year’s crop in what’s becoming an annual awards-season tradition.

In the 2015 group’s opening weekend, the 15 titles grossed $410K, averaging $3,727. Last year’s group was smaller in about every way: it opened in five fewer theaters, grossed about $80,000 less and racked up a PTA that was about 20 percent less ($3,138). The 2014 collection eventually cumed $2,358,468, up from 2013’s $2,142,342. The nominated shorts are also available on iTunes and other platforms in the U.S. By Oscar weekend, Magnolia will screen the Oscar shorts in 400-plus theaters.

Best Foreign Language Film nominee Timbuktu opened with four runs Friday. The Mauritanian/French production grossed just over $50K, averaging $12,502. Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, the film’s initial box office wedges between that of two fellow nominees with previous Stateside releases.
Music Box’s frontrunner Ida (Poland) opened last May, grossing $55,438, averaging $18,479 in three theaters. It went on to cume north of $3.7M. Sony Classics’ Russian title Leviathan opened in two theaters over the Christmas holiday, grossing $15,200 ($7,600 PTA). It has cumed $369,200 so far.
SPC will open nominee Wild Tales on Feb. 20. The Argentine/Spanish film has momentum going in with a $23.9M box office gross overseas. Estonian film Tangerines is set during the the war in the former Soviet republic of Georgia in the early 1990s, following the story of an older man who’s refused to flee the conflict because he must harvest his tangerine crop. Tangerines played at multiple U.S. film festivals in 2014 but currently has no U.S. release set.
In other openers, Warner Bros. bowed episodes of its TV powerhouse Game Of Thrones in 205 theaters, grossing over $1.5M (Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro will write more today about GoT). China Lion opened Running Man, the big screen version of a Korean/Chinese reality show, in 20 theaters grossing $205K ($10,250 PTA). China Lion will add a half dozen-plus theaters next Friday.
Kino Lorber opened Russian sci-fi feature Hard To Be A God exclusively at the Anthology Film Archives in New York. The three-hour feature, a decade in the making, is screening twice daily this weekend, grossing $7K. Kino Lorber said the film will play art house and cinematheque locations around North America in the coming months.
Focus Features’ Black Sea played 313 locations in its second weekend after opening last week in 5 theaters. The submarine thriller grossed $464K for a $1,482 theater average, after opening a week ago in 5 theaters, grossing a slow $35K ($7K PTA). Jennifer Aniston’s Cake has yet to report 2nd weekend numbers. The Golden Globe nominee opened with a million dollars last week, but appears to have lost some dough. Roadside added 15 runs for French-Canadian feature Mommy. The Cannes 2015 feature grossed $35,375 ($1,538 PTA). It had a slow start last weekend in 8 theaters, grossing just under $21K, averaging $2,619. SPC added three locations for doc Red Army grossing $20,965 ($4,193 average). It opened with a $20,122 gross in 3 theaters ($6,707 PTA) last week.
SPC added 46 theaters for Oscar nominee Still Alice’s third frame. It grossed $622K averaging $7,405 from 84 runs. The film joins the seven-figure club with a three-week $1.508M cume.
TWC added 377 runs for its multiple Oscar nominee The Imitation Game. The Benedict Cumberbatch feature grossed a cool $5.173M, averaging $2,154. The Imitation Game is the highest grossing Specialty release among 2014 openers and has now cumed just under $68M. Focus shed 53 theaters for its Oscar-nominated The Theory Of Everything, grossing $1M in 805 theaters ($1,242 PTA).
Fox Searchlight’s Oscar heavyweight Birdman continues to fly high above the Specialty nest. It added 143 locations over the previous week, grossing over $1.5M ($1,552 PTA). The drama starring Michael Keaton has cumed over $33.23M.
Oscar doc nominee Citizenfour by Laura Poitras passed the $2.5M threshold this past week. Now in 30 theaters, it grossed $18,264 ($609 average) with a 15 week $2,519,146 theatrical cume.

NEW
2015 Oscar Shorts (Magnolia Pictures) NEW [110 Theaters] Weekend $410K, Average $3,727
Game Of Thrones (Warner Bros.) NEW [205 Theaters] Weekend $1.501M, Average $7,322
Hard To Be A God (Kino Lorber) NEW [1 Theater] Weekend $7K
Running Man (China Lion) NEW [20 Theaters] Weekend $205K, Average $10,250
Timbuktu (Cohen Media Group) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $50,008, Average $12,502, Cume $58,314

RETURNING/SECOND WEEKEND
Black Sea (Focus Features) Week 2 [313 Theaters] Weekend $464K, Average $1,482, Cume $515,925
Mommy (Roadside Attractions) Week 2 [23 Theaters] Weekend $35,375, Average $1,538, Cume $3,399,378
Red Army (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2 [5 Theaters] Weekend $20,965, Average $4,193, Cume $55,599

HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS
Still Alice (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3 [84 Theaters] Weekend $622K, Average $7,405, Cume $1,508,060
A Most Violent Year (A24) Week 5 [818 Theaters] Weekend $1,701,470, Average $2,080, Cume $3,169,375
Leviathan (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 6 [13 Theaters] Weekend $70,987, Average $5,461, Cume $369,150
Two Days, One Night (IFC Films) Week 6 [64 Theaters] Weekend $,153,600 Average $2,400, Cume $610,789
Mr. Turner (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7 [54 Theaters] Weekend $167,059, Average $3,094, Cume $2,108,689
Wild (Fox Searchlight) Week 9 [418 Theaters] Weekend $550K, Average $,1,316 Cume $35,669,405
The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company) Week 10 [2,402 Theaters] Weekend $5.173M, Average $2,154, Cume $67,954,636
Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 12 [302 Theaters] Weekend $274,096, Average $908, Cume $11,450,802
The Theory Of Everything (Focus Features) Week 13 [805 Theaters] Weekend $1M, Average $1,242, Cume $30,600,445
Citizenfour (RADiUS) Week 15 [30 Theaters] Weekend $18,264, Average $609, Cume $2,519,146
Birdman (Fox Searchlight) Week 16 [976 Theaters] Weekend $1.515M, Average $1,552, Cume $33,236,998
Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 17 [525 Theaters] Weekend $719,670, Average $1,371, Cume $8,650,153
Boyhood (IFC Films) Week 30 [137 Theaters] Weekend $89,050, Average $650, Cume $25,071,487