Time for screams, screens

'Hostel' bows; niche pix spread

Though three wide releases hit theaters this weekend — Lionsgate’s slasher “Hostel” hacks into 2,195 theaters, 20th Century Fox’s “Grandma’s Boy” lands at 2,014 and vidgame adaptation “Bloodrayne” downloads at 1,915 — most attention at the box office will be on whether the kudos contenders can capitalize on awards buzz as they expand.

Universal will add 953 engagements, for a total of 1,485, to the run of Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” which has grossed $17 million in its first two weeks. “We’re thrilled with the DGA nomination, and we’re looking forward to a long run,” U distrib topper Nikki Rocco said.

Focus Features’ “Brokeback Mountain,” which has cumed $16 million in four weeks of limited play, will widen to 484 screens, up 215 from New Year’s weekend.

Woody Allen’s “Match Point,” which has about $850,000 from eight screens after one weekend, is being accelerated into 304 bookings by DreamWorks.

Also expanding this frame is Disney’s “Casanova,” which bumps up its run to 1,004 locations.

Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia” and U’s “King Kong” are expected to battle again for the top spot on the box office chart. Among the frame’s new pics, Eli Roth’s slasher “Hostel” is receiving the most interest in tracking. But like “Grandma’s Boy,” a laffer financed by Level 1 and produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison, and “Bloodrayne,” helmed by Uwe Boll, “Hostel” is getting the most notice from males.

That aud may be a bit harder to herd into theaters this weekend as the NFL Playoffs kick off, with games on both Saturday and Sunday.

DreamWorks distrib prexy Jim Tharp said the expansion of “Match Point” is a bit more aggressive than originally conceived. “The plan was initially to wait until Jan. 20, but with the Golden Globes nominations and (positive results at) the box office, we planned to speed up the release.”

Focus distrib chief Jack Foley goosed the “Brokeback” strategy a few weeks back, and the company is sticking to it for now. Ang Lee-helmed pic is opening in 60-70 more markets this weekend; another big expansion is already slated for Jan. 20.

Other pics that received kudos attention this week are holding off their expansions, waiting for the Academy to announce Oscar noms on Jan. 31.

Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker said “Capote,” which was on 151 screens last week, will re-expand to 300-500 screens on Jan. 20, and SPC is planning to move the pic to over 1,000 runs on Feb. 3, the Friday after Acad noms. “We want to pop at the right time in the areas of the country where people don’t know who Truman Capote is,” Barker said.

“Good Night, and Good Luck” is getting a slightly more cautious push. Warner Independent distrib poobah Steven Friedlander said he still plans a re-expansion to 300-500 screens on that Friday.

Elsewhere in the limited arena, the Weinstein Co. is boosting “The Matador” from four to 28 screens.

New titles include Rialto’s re-issue of “Classe tous risques” on two screens in L.A. and Chicago. ThinkFilm’s “Fateless” and IFC’s “Kill the Poor” both bow on solo Gotham screens.

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