Focus Features’ The Danish Girl had a robust beginning to its theatrical run during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but it was The Weinstein Company’s Carol that held the reins as the top per theater average champ. Open Road’s Spotlight and Fox Searchlight’s Brooklyn continued to show muscle as both added theaters over the holiday weekend, landing the awards contenders in the top 10 overall box office, while Bleecker Street’s Trumbo surpassed a $2.6M cume after a big expansion. FilmRise opened Amy Berg’s Janis: Little Girl Blue with a solid start following its Key West Film Festival win last weekend, and in its 4th frame, Submarine Deluxe’s doc Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict continues to show legs.

The Danish Girl debuted in four New York and L.A. locations with a strong performance by the awards contender. Starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikankder, the movie grossed $185K Friday to Sunday, averaging $46,250, the sixth-best opening weekend PTA of the year behind Steve Jobs, Sicario, Carol, Spotlight and Jurassic World. Focus said exit surveys showed the title “hit its primary audience” of older females, who “loved the film.” Specifically, the opening weekend’s audience was 58% female and 67% of the overall crowd seeing The Danish Girl was over 40.

The title’s opening compares to director Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, which TWC opened in November, 2010 also in 4 theaters. The Oscar-winning title grossed over $355K in its first frame, averaging a stunning $88,863. It went on to cume $135.4 million. The film will remain in 4 theaters next weekend, followed by expansions heading into December and beyond.

Carol posterAnother Oscar-hopeful, Carol, continued to demonstrate a powerful lure for audiences in New York and L.A. Directed by Todd Haynes and starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, it  grossed over $203K Friday to Sunday (only a 20% drop from its opening weekend) and is estimated to have taken in over $276K over the Thanksgiving holiday. The three-day estimate averages to a very robust $50,769, which is impressive given that the film maintained its hold in four theaters in both cities. Carol grossed $77K on Saturday, a 14% uptick from Friday.

Todd Haynes’ 2002 feature Far From Heaven, also a same-sex drama set in the ‘50s, expanded from 6 to 54 theaters in its second weekend. It grossed over $902K, averaging $16,716. It went on to cume a little more than $15.9 million.

Carol is doing great and is the [per theater average topper] for the second week in a row,”  Weinstein Co. president of theatrical distribution Erik Lomis said Sunday. “Todd is now being talked about for Best Director and Carol is being talked about for Best Picture. The picture is phenomenal and it needs to be nurtured — and we’re going to do that.” Lomis also touted the performances of Blanchett and Mara for helping to maintain the title’s momentum. The feature received six Independent Spirit Award nominations in addition to being up for Gotham and British Independent Film Awards. “We’ll be in 100 – 150 theaters by Christmas,” Lomis added, “and then bow it out in January.”

Janis PosterFilmRise opened doc Janis: Little Girl Blue in 2 theaters over the weekend. The film, about legendary rocker Janis Joplin directed by Amy Berg (Oscar-nominated for Deliver Us From Evil), grossed $24,024, averaging $12,012. “We are very pleased,” FilmRise’s Steve Fangan said Sunday afternoon, “and have already booked over 40 theaters around the country as we roll out nationwide beginning this coming Friday.” The film, which won Best Documentary last week at the Key West Film Festival, will also have its U.S. broadcast premiere on PBS’ American Masters next year.

Open Road’s Spotlight and Fox Searchlight’s Brooklyn continued their expansions going into their fourth weekends. Spotlight played 299 additional cinemas over the holiday, while Brooklyn parlayed into 734 more theaters for Thanksgiving. Both likely Oscar-contenders did well and ranked 8th and 9th in the overall box office as of early afternoon Sunday.

Spotlight posterSpotlight grossed $4,495,290 Friday to Sunday ($5,726,159 for Wednesday through Sunday) in 897 theaters. The film, by Tom McCarthy and starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams, averaged $5,011 Friday to Sunday and $6,384 over the five-day holiday. Spotlight has cumed $12,347,179.

Brooklyn, meanwhile, grossed an estimated $3,832,000 Friday to Sunday in 845 theaters, averaging $4,535. Over the full Thanksgiving weekend, it grossed $4.85 million, averaging $5,740. Brooklyn’s one-month cume is $7,289,949.

NEW RELEASES

The Danish Girl (Focus Features) NEW [4 Theaters] Weekend $185K, Average $46,250

Janis: Little Girl Blue (FilmRise) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $24,024, Average $12,012

RETURNING/SECOND WEEKEND

mustang 3A Journey Through Time With Anthony (China Lion) Week 2 [13 Theaters] Weekend $15K, Average $1,154, Cume $118,479

Carol (The Weinstein Company) Week 2 [4 Theaters] Weekend $203,076 (3-day), $276,039 (5-day), Average $50,769 (3-day), $69,010 (5-day), Cume $588,355

Mustang (Cohen Media Group) Week 2 [3 Theaters] Weekend $23,930, Average $7,977, Cume $56,370

Legend (Universal) Week 2 [40 theaters] Weekend $285K (3-day), $404K (5-day); Average $7,125 (3-day), $10,100 (5-day), cume $514K

HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (FIP) Week 3 [98 Theaters] Weekend $147,600, Average $1,506, Cume $4,336,200

James White (The Film Arcade) Week 3 [10 Theaters] Weekend $15,426, Average $1,542, Cume $53,010

BrooklynBrooklyn (Fox Searchlight) Week 4 [845 Theaters] Weekend $3,832,000 (3-day); $4,850,000 (5-day), Average $4,535 (3-day); $5,740 (5-day), Cume $7,289,949

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (Submarine Deluxe) Week 4 [21 Theaters] Weekend $55,947, Average $2,664, Cume $210,931

Spotlight (Open Road Films) Week 4 [897 Theaters] Weekend $4,495,290 (3-day); $5,726,159 (5-day), Average $5,011 (3-day); $6,384 (5-day), Cume $12,347,179

Trumbo posterTrumbo (Bleecker Street) Week 4 [616 Theaters] Weekend $1,534,005 (3-day); 1,924,539 (5-day), Average $$3,124 (3-day); $2,490 (5-day), Cume $2,676,259

Suffragette (Focus Features) Week 6 [217 Theaters] Weekend $250K, Average $1,152, Cume $4.055M

Room (A24) Week 7 [175 Theaters] Weekend $311,500 (3-day); $351,985 (4-day), Average $1,780 (3-day) $2,011 (4-day), Cume $3,398,163

Truth (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7 [28 Theaters] Weekend $35,053, Average $1,252, Cume $2,441,665

Labyrinth Of Lies (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9 [14 Theaters] Weekend $18,136, Average $1,295, Cume $712,037