With less than a week until the Oscars, The Weinstein Company is planning to expand the box-office reach of Best Picture front-runner "The Artist."
Erik Lomis, The Weinstein Company's head of distribution, told TheWrap that he intends to add at least 200 locations — and maybe as many as 400 — on Friday.
"We're pushing every button we can," he said.
If this past weekend's box office is an indicator, going wider with "The Artist" should pay off. The silent black-and-white film, nominated for 10 Oscars, grossed an estimated $3 million over the four-day Presidents Day weekend, bringing its domestic total to $28 million.
That is an 8 percent increase over last weekend, making the PG-13 "The Artist" the only holdover in the top 20 that actually gained audience week-to-week.
Considering that the film is in its 13th week of release and like last week screened at 808 locations during the Presidents Day weekend, the numbers suggest that public awareness and interest in the seeing the film is peaking at the right time for TWC.
Should "The Artist" claim the top prize at the Academy Awards, it will expand even further, Loomis told TheWrap.
The Weinstein Company carefully calibrated its rollout for "The Artist," opening the movie at four locations on Nov. 25 and slowly expanding it — first to six locations, then to 16, 17, 167, 172 and 216.
Its widest release so far was from Feb. 3 to Feb. 9, when the movie played at 1,005 locations.
Loomis also said he plans to bump the number of locations showing "My Week With Marilyn," the 13-week-old movie that garnered Michelle Williams an Oscar nomination for playing Marilyn Monroe.
That R-rated film played at 120 locations over the weekend — five fewer than the previous weekend — and grossed $242,000.
The other Oscar-nominated specialty film that continues to make a dent in the box office is Fox Searchlight's R-rated "The Descendants," which grossed $3.9 million over the four-day weekend. The movie, which stars George Clooney, has grossed a total of $75.6 million. It played at 1,243 locations.
Debuting this past weekend, the Oscar-nominated football documentary "Undefeated" — released by Weinstein — grossed $42,658 at five locations, an average of $8,532 per location.
"Bullhead," the Belgian film nominated for best foreign language film, debuted on seven screens and grossed $42,500, according to Rentrak. Drafthouse Films released the movie, which is scheduled to expand to 20 markets on Friday.
Finally, OTC LLC and PMK*BNC Films opened "On The Ice" at four locations in, of all places, New York and Alaska. The movie, set in Alaska, grossed $22,000.