Pics ply Oscar noms for B.O. boost

Nom-laden 'King's Speech' eloquent at box office

With its leading tally of a dozen Academy Award nominations, “The King’s Speech” will likely see the biggest Oscar bounce at the box office.

Paramount’s “True Grit” and “The Fighter” also stand to add to their grosses from their multiple Oscar bids, as will Fox Searchlight’s “Black Swan” and “127 Hours.”

“Speech” will receive a major push from the Weinstein Co., which is adding 800 domestic playdates to boost the total to nearly 2,500 this weekend. The royal drama finished fourth last weekend with $7.9 million at 1,680, boosting its domestic take to $57.3 million after two months in release.

“Speech” has cumed nearly $50 million outside the U.S. thanks largely to $28 million in the U.K. after three weeks and another $15 million in Australia. It’s due to open soon in France, Germany and Italy, so the current worldwide cume of $106.8 million could easily double by the time Oscars are handed out on Feb. 27.

Searchlight’s also cranking up the “127 Hours” release from 69 to 890 theaters after the James Franco starrer snagged six noms, hoping Oscar buzz will persuade filmgoers who have been on the fence due to the drama’s intense subject matter.

“Hours” has grossed only $11.3 domestically and $9.2 million overseas from the U.K. and two other markets, so the foreign side could see significant gains in coming weeks from Western European territories.

With 10 nominations, “True Grit” should continue its surprisingly strong domestic performance — now at $138 million in less than five weeks. “Grit” finished fifth with $7.3 million at 3,464 last weekend. The Oscar buzz should help the Coen brothers’ Western perform well overseas, where it’s launching in its first international market on Wednesday in Australia, followed by Mexico on Feb. 4 and Spain and the U.K. on Feb. 11.

“Black Swan,” which has already overperformed at the domestic box office with $83.3 million in eight weeks, should stay in the top 10 for several more sessions thanks to its six Oscar noms. The ballet thriller took in $5.9 million at 2,407 over the weekend.

“Swan” has high potential overseas, where it has just started its run with a combined $11.3 million in its first weeks in Australia, Germany and the U.K. Co-star Vincent Cassel has a huge following in France and Germany.

The situation’s similar for “The Fighter” with nearly $73 million domestically after seven weeks, including $4.5 million at 2,275 last weekend. The seven Oscar noms should help provide additional punch in upcoming Stateside sessions, while the foreign run has just barely started with only $2.5 million, mostly from Australia.

“The Fighter,” handled by a variety of distribs internationally, launches Feb. 4 in Spain and the U.K.

TWC’s “Blue Valentine” should see a boost thanks to Michelle Williams’ actress nomination. The drama has cumed $4.5 million in a month, including $877,815 at 242 last weekend.

A nom for Nicole Kidman may not have much impact on future business for “Rabbit Hole.” Auds have not warmed to John Cameron Mitchell’s story of a mother whose child dies; it has totalled only $1.3 million in a limited run so far for Lionsgate.

Also, Roadside launches “Biutiful” this weekend in 50 locations, taking advantage of the nom for Javier Bardem in the actor category and the nom for foreign language film.

Of the 10 best picture nominees, half are already released on DVD, so it’s unlikely that Warner’s “Inception,” Sony’s “The Social Network,” Focus’ “The Kids Are All Right” or Disney’s “Toy Story 3” would see a theatrical re-release.

Fewer new titles is good news for Oscar titles performing well.

“People are seeing financial opportunities this year that I don’t think you’ve seen before with Academy films,” said Focus distribution exec Jack Foley. “The one thing about Academy history is that you have the collectors, people who will go out to see these movies. You’ve got it both ways, the popularization of the films and the collectors, added to a lean marketplace.”

Two best picture nominees started their careers at Sundance last year: “The Kids Are All Right” and “Winter’s Bone,” which both performed well with $20.8 million and $6.3 million in respective domestic grosses.

“They went in as small films, and it was a tough year competition-wise. There are jewels out there that are still viable,” Foley said.

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