You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘A Most Wanted Man’ Expanding After Solid Box Office Debut

A Most Wanted Man” marks one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final starring roles and fans of the Oscar-winning actor are helping to make the twisty spy thriller an art-house success.

“Philip never really got to star in movies,” said Howard Cohen, president of the film’s distributor, Roadside Attractions. “He was always known as a utility player…There’s no question that part of the appeal is the idea of him giving a final, great performance.”

The adaptation of John le Carre’s novel debuted to $2.7 million on 361 screens last weekend, cracking into the box office top ten. Now Roadside and Lionsgate are preparing to double the number of screens this weekend to more than 700 in an effort to capitalize on the warm reception.

Critics have embraced the picture, rewarding it with a 90% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some, such as Slate’s Dana Stevens and New York’s David Edelstein, have treated the picture as something akin to a memorial to Hoffman’s talent.

“What’s on display here is a great actor at his absolute peak — damn it all,” wrote Edelstein.

The “Capote” star died of a drug overdoes last February, and will also have supporting turns in the upcoming “Hunger Games” sequels.

In addition to Hoffman’s fanbase, Cohen said the film is filling a niche for older audiences who may be indifferent to the superhero films and sequels that populate the multiplexes during the summer. He noted that 57% of the opening crowd was over 50.

“A lot of people are not as excited about the more commercial movies,” said Cohen.

“People really love intelligent spy thrillers, and that’s a genre that’s rare now,” he added. “The movie is smart and intricate and it makes you think.”

Cohen said he wasn’t sure how broad “A Most Wanted Man” would ultimately play, but said the picture could hit 1,000 screens or more depending upon how next weekend’s expansion goes. Wider might not be better. To plot their strategy, Roadside executives closely studied the theatrical release of another le Carre thriller, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and noted that it made 90% of its gross from 700 screens.

One thing that Roadside didn’t anticipate was “Boyhood.” The Richard Linklater film has earned more than $4 million, and is expected to continue expanding this weekend from the 107 locations where it is currently playing.

“When we picked the date, we didn’t realize ‘Boyhood’ would be as much of a phenomenon as it is,” said Cohen. “The two movies are going to capture some of the same audience.”

With strong reviews, Cohen said he expects the studio will mount an Oscar campaign for Hoffman, but internal discussions are still in the early stages. The role the movie will play in burnishing the actor’s legacy required sensitivity on the part of Roadside.

“We made sure everybody knew how great he was in it,” said Cohen. “But not doing anything differently with marketing, we felt was the way to be the most respectful.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • "Jade Dynasty" in front at the

    China Box Office: 'Jade Dynasty' in Front Ahead of Mixed Competition

    With “Jade Dynasty” in front, Chinese-made action and Asian animation films led the way at the China box office over the past weekend. Although a few American titles are in play, they’ve failed to attract a crowd.  Chinese action fantasy “Jade Dynasty” led the weekend box office in its debut with $38.1 million, figures from [...]

  • The Painted Bird

    Venice Competition Film 'The Painted Bird' to Be Czech Entry in Oscar Race

    Václav Marhoul’s “The Painted Bird,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in the main competition and also played at Toronto Film Festival in Special Presentations, has been selected as the Czech Republic’s entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the foreign language film category. The pic follows the journey of an unnamed boy [...]

  • Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar'

    Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar' as Its Oscar Entry

    Pakistan’s Academy Selection Committee has chosen “Laal Kabootar” as its candidate for the Oscars’ international feature film category. Directed by first-time helmer Kamal Khan, the gangland thriller set in Karachi’s underbelly follows the events that transpire when a woman in search of her husband’s killer is thrown together with a cab driver and petty criminal [...]

  • Atlantis

    Toronto Film Review: 'Atlantis'

    “It took you 10 years to cleanse this region of Soviet propaganda and myths,” says one character to another in “Atlantis,” going on to suggest that the devastation now left behind may never be “cleansed” at all. A strikingly bleak vision of a near future in which Ukraine has won its war with Russia but [...]

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content