Last night, Gary Oldman collected his second best actor award this week for his mindblowing portrayal of Winston Churchill in Focus Features/Working Title’s Darkest Hour, giving him wins at both the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Golden Globes.
Meanwhile the Joe Wright-directed World War II biopic clicked past the $30M mark, making it Focus Features’ second highest grossing title so far off its 2017 slate after Atomic Blonde ($51.6M).
Darkest Hour in its marketing materials has emphasized how a leader can lead positively with words and bring people together; essentially an inspirational message to show how a strong leader did a great job at a very difficult time in history. Darkest Hour follows Churchill as he takes the office as UK’s Prime Minister just as the Nazis are closing in. His cabinet insists he broker a peace arrangement with Germany, a decision he greatly struggles with throughout the movie.
When compared to the other awards contenders this season, i.e. Sony Classics’ Call Me By Your Name ($103K opening theater average), A24’s Lady Bird ($91K opening PTA), Fox Searchlight’s The Shape of Water ($83) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missiouri ($80,5K), Darkest Hour started slower out of the gate with a $43,7K opening weekend theater average. However, during the holidays in its 800 to 900 venue expansion, the Wright movie caught steam and now with $31.2M prior to its 8th weekend, Darkest Hour is now only $4M behind Lady Bird, and well ahead of Shape of Water ($23.7M), Three Billboards ($26.2M) and Call Me By Your Name ($6.5M).
Should the pic score a second best actor nomination for Oldman (it would be a shocker if it does not), Darkest Hour is bound to get to $40M+, becoming Wright’s third highest grossing movie ever, clicking past Pride and Prejudice ($38.4M) and sitting just under the director’s Hanna ($40.3M) and Atonement ($50.9M).
“Darkest Hour started with the classic upscale sophisticated crowd and has really grown to a much broader audience,” said Focus Features president of distribution Lisa Bunnell.
Darkest Hour has crossed over from the Landmarks into the younger-demo Alamo Drafthouses with the mainstream Regal chain owning the pic’s best ticket sales. The pic is expected to maintain its current theater count that’s north of 1,700 locations. Turnout has been roughly split down the middle between females and males. The movie benefits from its PG-13 rating as it’s a history lesson that the whole family can attend versus other R-rated contenders on the marquee. A comp right now for Darkest Hour is Weinstein Co.’s Lion from last year which played well beyond awards season to $51.7M. Though that pic had a slower rollout than Darkest Hour, it didn’t reach the $30M threshold until its 12th week.
On January 2o, Oldman is up for best actor again at the Screen Actors Guild awards. Darkest Hour also counts several BAFTA nominations including film, outstanding British film, lead actor, supporting actress (Kristin Scott Thomas), original music, make-up, cinematography, production design and costumes.