The Weinstein Company’s The Imitation Game proved it’s the real thing, winning the specialty box office this weekend with a spectacular opening. Taking the same Thanksgiving weekend slot as previous TWC Oscar winners The King’s Speech and The Artist, the title bowed with the year’s second-best per-theater average, flying past Birdman‘s mid-October opening.
The Imitation Game grossed over $482K in four theaters, giving the feature a whopping $120,518 PTA. Fox Searchlight’s The Grand Budapest Hotel still reigns over 2014 with a $202,792 PTA, though its early-March launch did not have the same crowd of awards contenders vying for attention. The Imitation Game‘s debut is also TWC’s second-highest PTA ever, falling just behind the September 2012 debut of The Master, which grossed over $736K in five theaters, giving it a $147,262 PTA. That film, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, went on to cume $16.37M.
“We had a tremendous opening. Clearly, audiences loved it in New York and Los Angeles this weekend,” said TWC’s president of distribution Erik Lomis. “To do this in this crowded marketplace with serious contenders speaks a lot.”
Lomis said The King’s Speech, which won the Best Picture Oscar in 2010, opened on Nov. 26 in four locations, averaging $88,863. That film went on to cume $135.4M. The Artist, also a Best Picture winner, opened a year later on Nov. 25 with a $51,220 PTA en route to a $44.6M cume.
“The Imitation Game received an A+ CinemaScore and only a handful of films get that result,” said Lomis. Both male and female audience-goers gave it a large majority of definite-recommends, he said. The audience was 52% female.
The biopic tells the story of Alan Turing, a British cryptographer and computer-science pioneer credited with breaking the supposedly unbreakable Enigma code used by the German military during WWII. Though his code-breaking work is credited with hastening the war’s end, afterward the British government hounded Turing into suicide because he was gay. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, with Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode, and is directed by Morten Tyldum,
“I think it strikes a chord with the art-house crowd, fans of historical film and gay audiences love this film,” Lomis said. “Also, to tech-heads, Alan Turing is a god-like figure and fans of Benedict Cumberbatch are excited for this.”
Following a route similar to The King’s Speech, TWC will expand The Imitation Game to six additional markets and about 25 theaters by Dec. 12. The film is going into wide release on Christmas Day.