All five films show significant gains

No need to wonder about the box office power of Oscar noms: All five best picture contenders — “Atonement,” “Juno,” “Michael Clayton,” “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will be Blood” — have enjoyed significant B.O. gains since the awards race hit full throttle with the announcement of Academy Award noms on Jan. 22.

Over the weekend, Paramount Vantage’s stark oil epic “There Will Be Blood” grossed an estimated $4.8 million as it upped its screen count to 1,507, landing at No. 10 overall for the frame. That put the film’s cume at $21.1 million — $11.3 million of that figure having been made since the Oscar noms were revealed Jan. 22.

Of the five films, “Blood” was released last, over Christmas week. Vantage and partner Miramax had been waiting until Oscar noms to begin aggressive expansion, and the move paid off.

Focus Features’ “Atonement” was also hanging back for the heart of awards season before expanding too much.

Since winning the Golden Globe for best drama on Jan. 13, followed by the Oscar noms, “Atonement” has grown its cume by $8.3 million. In its latest sesh, film grossed $3 million over the weekend from 1,367 runs. Cume now stands at $42.2 million.

For the weekend, “Juno” grossed an estimated $7.4 million from 2,475 theaters, keeping it on the upper reaches of the box office chart. Film’s cume is $110.3 million. Of that $20.4 million has come in the two weekends since the Oscar nominations.

Miramax’s “No Country for Old Men” and Warner Bros.’ “Michael Clayton” faced a different set of challenges, since they both already had been in the marketplace for some time. Both kept enough theater counts to hang back in the wings until nominations were announced, so that they could then expand again.

“No Country” — which added another win to its war chest this weekend with the Producers Guild of America top trophy — has the second highest cume of the five picture nominees after “Juno.” Film, released in early November, is another Miramax-Vantage co-production.

Over the weekend, “No Country” grossed an estimated $2.2 million from 1,273 theaters for a cume of $55.1 million. Of that, $5.6 million has come over the past two weekends as the film picked up runs again.

“Michael Clayton” is the oldest among this year’s best pic class, having been released Oct. 5. Film was playing in only a small number of theaters through January, and then expanded again to more than 1,000 runs after Oscar noms were announced.

Pic grossed $1.8 million from 1,010 runs over the weekend for a cume of $44.2 million. Of that, $4.8 million has come the last two weekends.

Any films securing a key Oscar nom in one category or another will look for a box office bump, but it is usually titles in best pic category that sees an immediate payoff.

Elsewhere on the specialty front, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Persepolis,” which scored an animated pic nom, grossed $403,925 from 100 screens over the weekend for a cume of $1.9 million.

National Geo’s 3-D concert film “U2 3D” nabbed the second highest per-screen average of Super Bowl weekend, grossing an estimated $762,049 from 61 locations in its second frame for a cume of $2.2 million. The highest per-screen average went to another 3-D concert pic, “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour,” which grossed $29 million from 683 runs for a per-screen average of $42,460.

IFC Films’ “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” grossed $122,400 from 17 screens in its third frame for a cume of $196,453 and a per screen average of $7,200.

Miramax’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” grossed an estimated $443,000 from 205 runs for a per-screen average of $2,163 and a cume of $3.7 million in the film’s 10th week.

Among new specialty titles, Roadside Attractions’ “Caramel” grossed an estimated $62,300 from 11 theaters for a per-screen average of $6,537. Strand’s “The Witnesses” grossed an estimated $14,700 from three theaters for a per-screen average of $4,900.

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