Pix seek box office kudos boost

Oscar noms don’t guarantee anything at the B.O.

Two movies — “Brokeback Mountain” and “Walk the Line” — recorded major box office growth this week after noms were announced, while “Munich” went in the other direction.

“Brokeback” placed a strong second on Tuesday and Wednesday, behind only “Big Momma’s House 2.” Grosses of about $800,000 both days were up 10% and 20%, respectively, from a week ago.

“Brokeback” crosses the 2,000 playdates barrier this weekend, going about as wide as Focus Features expects to take it with 2,089 prints.

And “Walk the Line,” which drew two acting noms but not a best picture mention, saw a 22% boost in its grosses Tuesday and Wednesday. Pic’s expanding from 1,201 playdates to 1,577.

But then there’s “Munich.” Universal is giving the pic a modest boost to 1,140 playdates, up from 980 last weekend. But Steven Spielberg’s historical thriller, which has grossed a modest $39 million, saw its grosses drop Tuesday and Wednesday despite five Oscar noms.

Those mentions may help “Munich” more on the foreign front. It opened with a decent $14.6 million at 3,000 playdates in 26 markets last weekend, then added another $5.7 million in the next three days. This weekend it’s adding Japan and seven mid-level territories, including Portugal and Greece.

Looking ahead, four of the five best picture nominees are taking what may be their best shot to succeed at the box office this weekend.

“Capote” and “Good Night, and Good Luck” are reupping their print counts after a long run, while “Brokeback Mountain” and “Munich” are expanding further in wide release to take advantage of a week’s free publicity. (“Crash,” the fifth best picture nominee, is already on homevideo.)

Only openers are Sony Screen Gems thriller remake “When a Stranger Calls” and Focus romantic comedy “Something New.”

With theaters largely empty on Sundays, Super Bowl weekend is typically down mid-teens percentage points from the previous weekend, with drops as high as 30% possible.

“I’d be more than happy to extend it if warranted, but I think it’s at the max,” Focus distrib topper Jack Foley said.

Sony Pictures Classics’ “Capote” expands from 325 to some 1,200 theaters this weekend (distrib wouldn’t give an exact count). It’s the first time biopic has crossed 350 prints after 18 weeks in theaters. Cume thus far is $15 million.

“Good Night, and Good Luck” is also receiving its widest run yet, growing from 105 playdates to 929. Historical drama has grossed $25.2 million over 17 frames.

“When a Stranger Calls,” which debuts at 2,999 theaters, is expected to beat out the second weekend of “Big Momma’s House 2″ to take the No. 1 spot at the box office. Sony’s Screen Gems unit also opened a horror pic on Super Bowl weekend last year: “Boogeyman” grossed $19 million.

Focus, meanwhile, is going for an older, and more heavily African-American, female aud for “Something New.”

Romantic comedy bows at 1,266 locations following two weekends of solid sneaks.

In limited release, Magnolia bows “The World’s Fastest Indian” at 114 playdates. Anthony Hopkins starrer had an Acad qualifying run in December but failed to land a nom.

“The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” which also came up empty-handed after a qualifying run in December, makes its debut on several dozen playdates. In an unusual policy shift, SPC wouldn’t reveal how many theaters the Tommy Lee Jones-helmed Western is playing.

Lionsgate bows “A Good Woman,” based on Oscar Wilde play “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” at 35 locations.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)

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