By ANITA BUSCH
Friday January 3, 2014 @ 9:47am PST
Philomena is heading to become one of the most successful independent films winding into awards season this year, and having compiled the box office for four weeks now, I have watched this film — based on true events and starring Judi Dench — steadily climb both domestically and internationally.
Curious, I ventured out to see it last night and found a theater almost full to capacity on a Thursday night (the only seats left were a smattering of neck-benders in the front). After the picture ended, the audience erupted into applause. Strong, positive word-of-mouth is why. It was, simply put, a sweet surprise.
“Our exit polls were as high as anything we’ve had, including The Artist and The King’s Speech,” said Erik Lomis, president of distribution and home entertainment for The Weinstein Company. Exit polls are showing a very high 85% definite recommend, with 95% ranking it “excellent” or “very good,” and its CinemaScore is an A. After seeing the film, that is not a surprise. But its box office numbers might open readers’ eyes a bit.
So, domestically, Philomena has grossed over $18M in 6 weeks. Compare that to other Oscar contenders: Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features) is at $16M after 9 weeks and is pretty much gone, Nebraska (Paramount) is at $6.3M after 7 weeks has lost its steam, Inside Llewyn Davis is around $5.8M after 4 weeks and still playing for CBS Films; and Warner Bros.’ Her – another strong word-of-mouther — has taken in $2.2M in two weeks time. The only other serious contender for a Best Picture Oscar is 12 Years A Slave (Fox Searchlight), which has grossed $38M in 11 weeks of release and has virtually come to a standstill. Her, the wonderfully original film from Spike Jonze, will expand on January 10, and Philomena will expand to 1,250-1,500 theaters on January 24. Those are the two to watch now. Stay tuned.