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De Sade ‘Quills’ whips up arthouse ardor

'Count,' 'Elliot,' continue to perform well

HOLLYWOOD — Fox Searchlight’s “Quills” solidified its status as an arthouse force as the Marquis de Sade biopic grossed $209,500 at nine engagements in five markets in its sophomore outing.

The Geoffrey Rush starrer, which dropped only 16% and has cumed $642,600 in a dozen days, will widen to 13 more markets and 50 more playdates on Dec. 15.

“The word of mouth is tremendous,” said distrib prexy Steve Giulula. “We think it’s emerging as a serious dark horse candidate for the Academy Awards.”

Paramount Classics’ “You Can Count on Me” remained healthy with $417,000 at 53 engagements, a 19% decline from the previous weekend, to lift its 24-day gross to $1.67 million. Next expansion for the brother-sister drama, which carries strong critical support, is set for Dec. 22.

Universal Focus/Working Title’s Brit drama “Billy Elliot” also continued to rack up solid figures with $1.4 million at 510 playdates, representing a 31% weekend-to-weekend decline. The 52-day U.S. total has kicked up to $13.3 million.

Miramax’s reissue of the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” rocked its way to $42,000 at two theaters — Film Forum in New York and the Nuart in Los Angeles. All Saturday shows in Gotham sold out.

Building on the recent release of a Fab Four album and book, “Night” will be expanded to 10 more markets Friday.

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