'Slumdog,' 'Wrestler' to get box office bump

The Golden Globe wins for “Slumdog Millionaire” — already the most successful platform release of the season — and “The Wrestler” give Fox Searchlight an enviable chokehold at the specialty box office until Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 22.

Released on Nov. 7 in a limited run, Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog” has grossed $34.1 million through Sunday. It’s playing in only 600 theaters.

“Wrestler” — with Mickey Rourke winning for lead actor in a drama — has been building slowly since its Dec. 19 bow, but it’s been a steady performer, grossing $2.8 million to date and playing in 60 runs.

Other specialty films picking up key awards at Sunday’s Globes were the Weinstein Co.’s “The Reader” and DreamWorks/Paramount’s “Revolutionary Road,” both starring Kate Winslet, who won supporting actress for the former and lead actress for the latter.

The Weinstein Co. will use “Vicky Cristina Barcelona’s” win for comedy to market the release of the DVD in a week.

Increasingly, the Globes are becoming more influential in terms of driving business at the box office.

There was a noticeable number of films leaving the Beverly Hilton empty-handed, including Universal’s “Frost/Nixon,” Focus Features’ “Milk,” Miramax’s “Doubt” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” “Button” is the only wide release.

With Boyle’s “Slumdog” winning in all four categories in which it was nominated — drama, director, screenplay and original score — and the performance wins by Winslet and Rourke, there wasn’t much left over.

The game is hardly over; most specialty films have largely held back from expanding until after the Oscar noms are announced. “Doubt” was an exception, expanding to 1,267 runs over Christmas to strong results.

Even “Slumdog” won’t expand this weekend, but by Jan. 23, it will be playing in roughly 1,300 runs.

Searchlight will up “Wrestler’s” runs from about 60 to 160 on Friday, while pic will be playing in roughly 400 runs by Jan. 23.

Its Globe victories give Searchlight a boost in promoting two films that are a difficult sell, albeit for different reasons. One thing they share is an R rating.

Searchlight won’t begin its national TV campaign for “Slumdog” until next week to correspond with the film going wide on Jan. 23.

“We feel very good about where we are on both films,” said Fox Searchlight’s Steve Gilula.

Searchlight picked up domestic distribution rights to the film in late summer from Warner Bros., after Warner Independent Pictures — where “Slumdog” was made — closed down. Warners remains a partner on the film, and is the international distributor. Warners and Searchlight are full financial partners.

Searchlight bought domestic rights to “Wrestler” at the Venice Film Festival.

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