‘Hidden Figures’ opens wide to boffo box office, boosting its profile during Oscar voting

Hidden Figures,” which opened wide this weekend, made $22 million and took the box office crown away from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” which had reigned supreme for two weeks. Theodore Melfis crowd pleaser tells the true story of three unsung heroes of the NASA space program: mathematicians Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), whose contributions were all the more impressive because they were black women working in the South during the Jim Crow era.

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The film, which went into limited release on Christmas Day, merits an impressive 94% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. And audiences agreed with the critics, giving “Hidden Figures” a CinemaScore of A+. That top mark is a rarity for studio films, with only two other 2016 releases hitting that mark (the biopic “Queen of Katwe” and the inspirational “Miracles From Heaven”). And “Hidden Figures” earned this top grade across all demographics, which bodes well for future earnings.

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Originally, the studio had planned to open the film on the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. long weekend. However, after a sensational reaction to a screening of a few scenes at TIFF in September, it realized it had a major awards contender and bumped up the release date. That gamble is paying off with the cast already recognized with SAG and Critics’ Choice nominations for Best Ensemble, while Spencer was singled out by SAG and the Golden Globes for her scene-stealing supporting role. And it has reaped bids from three of the other four guilds to weigh in with their choices for the best of the year.

[WATCH] ‘Hidden Figures’ writer/director Theodore Melfi on finding the right tone

Oscar voting kicked off last Thursday (Jan. 5) and runs through this Friday (Jan. 13). News of the smash success of “Hidden Figures” is sure to send some academy members to the theater this week while others move the screener to the top of their must-watch pile.

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