Kudos casting was put to the test this weekend at the domestic box office — and some studios reveled in the results.
Sony’s “American Hustle,” which scored seven Golden Globes nominations last week, came away as the clear winner, scoring this year’s best opening per-screen average for a live-action film, with an estimated $115,000 from six locations in New York and L.A. The film totaled $690,000 in three days.
Meanwhile, CBS Films’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which along with “Hustle” received a Globes bid for best picture in the comedy/musical category, fell just 15% coming off its stellar limited debut last weekend, with 11 more locations. And the Weinstein Co.’s “Philomena,” a surprise best picture-drama contender, dropped only 20%, though without the benefit of any additional locations.
Each of these films have been gaining steam outside their recent Globes noms, so it’s impossible to gauge exactly the impact the announcement of the org’s shortlist had on the box office. It’s not like Sony paid for exit polls asking if audiences who saw “American Hustle” were at all swayed by last week’s Golden Globes nominations. (Then again, maybe it did.)
Still, there is no question that each film — along with Paramount’s “Nebraska,” which grew 63%, thanks to 137 more locations vs. last weekend — saw sterling perfs, which were affected by a slew of kudos mentions so far, illustrating the undeniable impact of the awards machine at the box office.
“Absolutely they helped!” said Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer, referring to the seven nominations for “American Hustle.” Bruer noted that the noms were an affirmation of the type of film everyone knew they had on their hands.
For “Hustle,” Sony is using a similar release strategy that Paramount used with director David O. Russell’s 2010 film “The Fighter,” which bowed limited only one week before its nationwide expansion. That pic, which cumed $94 million Stateside, bowed four days before it received six Globes noms, but expanded wide on Dec. 17 — just three days after.
“Certainly, we anticipate that ‘American Hustle’ will be right up there with that film,” Bruer told Variety.
The Golden Globes nominations are the first real tastemaker for audiences looking for guidance in a crowded holiday movie line-up. But the Oscars are the culmination of awards season buzz. Let the marathon begin!