Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt profited bigtime with the year’s second-best showing in a limited debut this weekend. Directed by Adam McKay, The Big Short grossed $720K in just eight theaters for a stellar $90K average. That’s behind only Steve Jobs, which had a per-theater-average of a little more than $130K across four playdates but has underperformed in its broader rollout. The Big Short is based on a novel by Michael Lewis that’s set during the financial meltdown that led to the Great Recession.

carol 2The Weinstein Company’s Carol, meanwhile, remains quite the holdover star following a small expansion to 16 locations from four. Nominated for five Golden Globes this past week, the Todd Haynes movie starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara grossed an additional $336K and averaged more than $21K in its fourth weekend. Compared to The Artist at the same point in time in its run, Carol is pacing ahead of the 2012 Best Picture Oscar winner by 25% in PTA.

As for Big Short‘s strong debut, Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore said Sunday, “Adam McKay first screened it for us back in August and we were surprised with how laugh-out-loud funny it was and still a compelling story.” The feature’s audience was about 56% over 35 this weekend, skewing 53% female. Moore said he hopes the upcoming rollout of Star Wars will motivate audiences to see other films, too. The Big Short will only stay limited for the coming week. It will go wide to 2K theaters during Christmas.

SpotlightCarol‘s fellow Golden Globes nominees Brooklyn and Spotlight continue to reap rewards at the box office in their 6th weekend. Searchlight’s Brooklyn averaged over $2K in 947 theaters, grossing $1.975M. It has cumed over $14.33 million. Open Road’s Spotlight grossed over $2.5 million in 1,089 theaters, up 109 from the previous week. The title crossed $20 million, making it one of the year’s highest grossing specialty releases.

Focus Features added 20 theaters for The Danish Girl in the wake of its three Golden Globe nominations including Best Actor-Drama for Eddie Redmayne. The feature grossed $259K, giving it a respectable $10,792 average. It had a $26,500 PTA last weekend in four theaters. It has cumed $653,266.

YouthSearchlight added more than a dozen runs for Youth‘s second frame. The feature grossed $100K in 17 theaters, averaging $5,882. The European Film Awards winner for Best Picture, director and actor opened with four locations last week, grossing $80K for a $20K PTA. In its 6th frame, Bleecker Street’s Trumbo grossed $811K Friday to Sunday, averaging $1,464. Nominated for Golden Globes for Best Actor in a drama (Bryan Cranston) and supporting actress (Helen Mirren), Trumbo has cumed over $5.45 million to date.

Among other holdovers, Roadside/Amazon Studios’ Chi-Raq from director Spike Lee shed 20 runs in its second frame. It grossed $573,580 in 285 theaters, averaging $2,013. The film had a $4,092 PTA last weekend in 305 theaters. It has cumed $2,107,979.

GKIDS opened Brazilian animated feature Boy And The World in two theaters for an awards-qualifying run ahead of its January rollout. The title grossed just under $7K, averaging $3,484.

NEW

The Big Short (Paramount) NEW [8 Theaters] Weekend $720K, Average $90K
Boy And The World (GKIDS) NEW [2 Theaters] Weekend $6,968, Average $3,484

RETURNING/SECOND WEEKEND

Chi-Raq posterChi-Raq (Roadside Attractions/Amazon Studios) Week 2 [285 Theaters] Weekend $573,580, Average $2,013, Cume $2,107,979
Hitchcock/Truffaut (Cohen Media Group) Week 2 [18 Theaters] Weekend $48,831, Average $2,712, Cume $101,187
Fall In Love Like A Star (China Lion) Week 2 [34 Theaters] Weekend $30K, Average $882
Macbeth (The Weinstein Company) Week 2 [108 Theaters] Weekend $251K, Average $2,324, Cume $348,939
A Royal Night Out (Atlas Distribution Company) Week 2 [101 Theaters] Weekend $12,333, Average $122, Cume $170,286
Youth (Fox Searchlight) Week 2 [17 Theaters] Weekend $100K, Average $5,882, Cume $211,233

HOLDOVERS / THIRD+ WEEKENDS

The Danish Girl (Focus Features) Week 3 [24 Theaters] Weekend $259K, Average $10,792, Cume $653,266
Janis: Little Girl Blue (FilmRise) Week 3 [26 Theaters] Weekend $28,434, Average $1,094, Cume $154,856
Carol (The Weinstein Company) Week 4 [16 Theaters] Weekend $336,624, Average $21,058, Cume $1,220,737
Mustang (Cohen Media Group) Week 4 [3 Theaters] Weekend $11,809, Average $3,936, Cume $97,160
Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (Submarine Deluxe) Week 6 [19 Theaters] Weekend $17,737, Average $933, Cume $309,979
Spotlight (Open Road Films) Week 6 [1,089 Theaters] Weekend $2,508,853, Average $2,304, Cume $20,302,802
Trumbo (Bleecker Street) Week 6 [554 Theaters] Weekend $810,874, Average $1,463, Cume $5,454,080
Suffragette (Focus Features) Week 8 [166 Theaters] Weekend $96K, Average $578, Cume $4,513,608
The Assassin (Well Go USA) Week 9 [7 Theaters] Weekend $9,850, Average $1,407, Cume $613,556
Room (A24) Week 9 [198 Theaters] Weekend $246,510, Average $1,245, Cume $4,184,891