Oscar box office report: ‘Spotlight,’ ‘Brooklyn’ strong in debuts, ‘The Martian’ tops ‘Gladiator’

Our leading contender for Best PictureSpotlight” took in a tick over $300K in its first weekend. That translates into an impressive $60,000 on each of its five screens in New York, Los Angeles and Boston. No doubt it did boffo business in Beantown as this docudrama details the work by the Boston Globe to expose the coverup by the local Catholic diocese of pedophile priests. Expect this picture — which scored a jaw-dropping 96 at Rotten Tomatoes (which grades on a pass/fail basis) and 91 on the sliding scale at MetaCritic — to continue to do well as Open Road adds 14 markets and 55 screens next weekend and expands further on Nov. 20.

Brooklyn,” which bowed on Wednesday, earned $181,000 at five theaters (PSA: $36,000). Fox Searchlight is taking it slower with this title, adding five cities — Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix and Washington D.C. — and 18 more locations next weekend. This period charmer stars Saoirse Ronan, a strong Best Actress contender, as an Irish emigrant to America in the early 1950s. 

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The first weekend tally for “Trumbo” was $77K for a per screen average of $15.5K. Bleecker Street is planning a slow platform release for this film starring Emmy and Tony champ Bryan Cranston as blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo

Among the holdovers, the Focus Features release “Suffragette” went wider — jumping from 23 to 222 locations — in its third week and made an average of $3,500 per screen for a total of $780K and just over $1.1 million to date. This historical drama about the fight for the vote by British women has already raked in $12.4 million worldwide. 

Room” grossed just over half a million in 87 locations (up from 38) for a PSA of just under $6K in week four. This A24 release has racked up just under $1.5 million to date.  And, in more good news, Emma Donoghue‘s 2010 novel, which she adapted for the screen, is back on the bestseller list.

Among those titles in general release, Sony scored with “Spectre” which made a staggering $73 million while Fox pulled off a double play as animated feature “The Peanuts Movie” debuted to an impressive $45 million (remember, many of those admissions were at reduced kiddie prices) while “The Martian” landed in third by adding an impressive $9.3 million in its sixth frame for a total tally of $197 million and counting. It is now Ridley Scott‘s top grossing film stateside, outpacing the $188 million for 2000 Oscar champ “Gladiator.”

Oscar mystery: Is ‘The Martian’ the next ‘Gravity’?

Steven Spielberg‘s “Bridge of Spies” did well in its fourth week, adding another $6 million (a drop of just 27% from last week) for a cumulative gross of $55 million. With a slew of rave reviews and a CinemaScore of A, Disney should continue to do well with this prestige period piece which stars two-time Oscar champ Tom Hanks as a reluctant recruit in Cold War diplomacy. 

Steve Jobs” dropped back down to limited release as it shed almost 80% of its screens, making $830K at 421 locations for a per screen average of just under $2K. Universal had done well with Danny Boyle‘s biopic of Apple’s patron saint in its first two weeks of limited release, as it debuted to a whopping $130K at each of four theaters and then made $1.5 million on those 60 screens. Going forward, the combo of great reviews and word of mouth (a CinemaScore of A-) stll means it has very strong potential to do well with awards (see below). 

Oscar spy: ‘Bridge of Spies’ will be an academy favorite

As of this writing, 21 of our 22 Oscar experts (journalists who cover this beat for major media including Variety, Yahoo, USA Today, and Huffington Post) are predicting that “Spotlight” and “Steve Jobs,” will reap Best Picture bids. Twenty are doing the same for “Bridge of Spies” and  “The Martian” while 19 expect “Room” to be among the nominees for this top prize and 14 think the same for “Brooklyn.”  

Among the performers in these pictures, “Steve Jobs” player Michael Fassbender and “Room” breakout star Brie Larson sit atop the Best Actor and Best Actress charts respectively. However, Fassbender faces strong challenges from Leonardo DiCaprio in the still-unseen “The Revenant” and Matt Damon, who plays an astronaut stranded on Mars determined to find a way home (think “Gravity” meets “Castaway”) in “The Martian.”

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Photos (l-r): “Spotlight,” “Brooklyn,” “The Martian.” Credits: Moviestore/REX

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