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‘Pan’s’ pockets gold

Picturehouse scores six nominations

Not bad for an indie studio that wasn’t even in existence less than three years ago.

Formed on the shores at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, Picturehouse found itself as a major player in the Oscar race Tuesday morning as “Pan’s Labyrinth” scored six nominations, including foreign language film and original screenplay for director-writer Guillermo del Toro. Film was also nominated for makeup, original score, cinematography and art direction.

“Pan’s,” which cost approximately $19 million and combines elements of fantasy and horror, has earned an impressive $10 million so far and is averaging more than $10,000 per screen. It expanded to 609 screens over the weekend and is finding an audience of fanboys, arthouse cinephiles and Hispanics.

Released on Dec. 29, just in time to be in Oscar-eligible, “Pan’s Labyrinth” opened in just a handful of theaters and will continue a platform release, said Picturehouse topper Bob Berney.

“We’ll go up to 825 screens this weekend and probably get to 1,000 by the next weekend. That seems to be the right level and better not to go too high to keep the per-screens very good,” Berney said. “What’s really amazing is that it’s playing very broadly, at multiplexes and in small towns. The storytelling and fantasy elements have attracted a broad audience, so it’s both a genre film and a review-driven one. And nobody’s having a problem with the Spanish language.”

“The movie had a lot trouble at its birth, but a lot of beautiful rewards down the road,” del Toro said. “Our financing collapsed twice. Alfonso (producer Cuaron) and I started funding it out of pocket before it got a greenlight. I also chipped in with my director’s salary.”

Although “Pan’s” was the Mexican foreign-film entry, pic was funded in Spain and the six noms mark the most ever for a Spanish production.

“We were hoping for one, maybe two, with a technical nomination,” said producer Alvaro Augustin.

Adds Berney: “You always dream and hope, but this goes beyond anything. … It had all the elements to do this but you never know.”

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