'Chocolat,' 'Night' grow, gain revenue

Oscar recognition gilded the B.O. of several nominated pics that saw broader expansions.

Sony Classics’ “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” added 450 theaters for a total of 1,651 engagements after fetching Oscar noms including a best-pic nod. Ang Lee-helmed pic took fifth place with an estimated $11 million over the four-day weekend to push its cume to $73.8 million. Sony Classics aims to hit another 50 or so venues with pic by next weekend.

“It’s obvious that there was an (Oscar noms) effect, and we had a lot of these screens lined up for just this occasion,” Sony Classics sales veep Tom Prassis said.

“Chocolat” — another best pic nominee — similarly added 333 locations for a total 1,481. Its No. 8 perf concocted $6.1 million in new B.O. on the weekend and sweetened cume to $34.5 million.

“You have a movie that’s had great word-of-mouth all along,” Miramax marketing veep David Kaminow observed. “Then, to get the great prestige and word-of-mouth that a best picture nomination gives you — that makes for a great combination.”

USA Films’ “Traffic” — yet another platformed pic to grab a best pic nom — added only two theaters at 1,742. But the Steven Soderbergh-helmed drug war drama still finished No. 6 with $7.5 million in estimated four-day grosses to park the $55 million production at a $80.1 million cume.

“Traffic” copped a good boost in smaller to mid-sized markets from Oscar-nom notoriety, USA distrib chief Jack Foley said.

Fine Line followed the best-actor nom for Javier Bardem’s perf in biopic “Before Night Falls” with a 19-theater expansion to 74 engagements. The result was a four-day estimated gross of $425,000, or an encouraging $5,743 per location for pic that’s set to hit a total 125 theaters on Friday.

Fox Searchlight exploited noms, including a best-thesp nod for Geoffrey Rush, to re-expand “Quills” to 201 theaters, a boost of 165. That produced $318,000 in grosses over the weekend to push biopic’s cume to $6.2 million after 13 weeks.

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