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Golden Globes wins help smaller films
LOS ANGELES – The dance flick “Stomp the Yard” retained its top spot at the box office for a second week, but a handful of small films were boosted by their success at the Golden Globes.
The Fox Searchlight film “The Last King of Scotland” was the biggest beneficiary as the studio shrewdly expanded the art house film from four theaters to 495, anticipating a good performance at the Globes. The movie took in an estimated $1.8 million from Friday to Sunday.
Forest Whitaker was named best actor in a drama for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. He also is considered a favorite for an acting Oscar.
“The marketplace accepted the movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. “Having Forest Whitaker win for that key role really boosted the film.”
“Babel,” from Paramount Vantage, increased its ticket sales 500 percent from last weekend after the film, an ensemble piece featuring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, won best drama honors at the Globes.
The film, which initially didn’t make the list of top 20 box office earners, jumped to 12th place this weekend with $2.3 million, according to studio estimates, bringing its 13-week take to $24 million.
The Miramax drama “The Queen” also got a huge lift, jumping 233 percent from last week to the ninth spot after its star, Helen Mirren, won two Golden Globes รณ one for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen,” and as Queen Elizabeth I in a TV miniseries.
Another smaller film, the wartime fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth,” from Picturehouse, a division of Time Warner Inc., saw its weekend gross jump 118 percent, moving it from 18th place last week to seventh place this weekend with $4.7 million.
The film, from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, has won numerous awards, although it lost last week in the best foreign-language film category at the Globes to the Clint Eastwood Japanese-language war film “Letters From Iwo Jima.”
“Anyone who is skeptical about the positive effect a Globe win can have on a film’s box office need only look at this weekend’s numbers,” Dergarabedian said.
Many of the films are expected to be nominated Tuesday for the Academy Awards.
“Stomp the Yard,” which focuses on a step competition between rival college fraternities, earned $13.3 million, narrowly beating “Night at the Museum” with $13 million. The comedy starring Ben Stiller has made about $206 million.
The only film to open wide this weekend, the horror movie “The Hitcher,” came in fourth at the box office.
“The film is a little disappointing for us,” said Jack Foley, president of distribution for Rogue Pictures. “It opened competitively in a sluggish marketplace and I think it will stick around for a few weeks anyway.”
Overall, box office receipts for the top 12 films were down 20 percent from the same weekend last year.
Here are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. “Stomp the Yard,” $13.3 million.
2. “Night at the Museum,” $13 million.
3. “Dreamgirls,” $8.7 million.
4. “The Hitcher,” $8.2 million.
5. “The Pursuit of Happyness,” $6.7 million.
6. “Freedom Writers,” $5.6 million.
7. “Pan’s Labyrinth,” $4.7 million.
8. “Children of Men,” $3.7 million.
9. “The Queen,” $3.7 million.
10. “Arthur and The Invisibles,” $3.1 million.