Oscar Hopefuls ’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Surge in Box-Office Expansions

But 3D space epic “Gravity,” which is still in 2,720 theaters, remains strongest of awards-bait films at the multiplexes

“12 Years a Slave,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “All Is Lost” surged in expansions, but the space epic “Gravity” remained the strongest of the Oscar front-runners at the box office over the weekend.

Fox Searchlight expanded “12 Years a Slave” from 410 to 1,144 theaters nationwide, and it took in a $6.6 million. That’s a solid $5,769 per-screen average for the slavery drama written by John Ridley and directed by Steve McQueen.

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“Dallas Buyers Club” went from nine to 35 theaters and the drama starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto brought in $629,038. That’s an impressive $17,972 per-theater average for the Jean-Marc Vallée directed AIDS tale, which posted a 61 percent jump from Friday to Saturday, a sign that positive word-of-mouth and critical acclaim are helping to drive the grosses.

Roadside Attractions added 271 theaters for its Robert Redford sea saga “All Is Lost” and it brought in $1.1 million from 401 locations, for a $3,030 average and a domestic total of $2.8 million.

“12 Years a Slave” (97 percent positive on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes), “Dallas Buyers Club” (94 percent) and “All Is Lost” (94 percent) are all a hit with the critics.

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But Warner Bros.’ “Gravity,” which remained in 2,720 theaters in its sixth week, is still going gangbusters. The Sandra Bullock-George Clooney 3D space saga raised its domestic total to $231 million by bringing in $8.4 million over the three days. It’s doing even better overseas, where it added another $26 million from this weekend to up its foreign total to $241 million.

“12 Years a Slave” is doing best with mature and African-American audiences, and Fox Searchlight sr. vice-president Frank Rodriguez told TheWrap he was very pleased with the weekend by which .

“We liked what we saw in the new markets, but our holdovers were just as encouraging,” he said. “We’re going to be looking to add more theaters this weekend, too.”

“12 Years” is based on the true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from New York who in 1841, was abducted and sold into slavery. Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, who also produces via his Plan B label, co-star.

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Elsewhere, Sony’s Tom Hanks piracy saga “Captain Phillips” added $5.8 million this weekend and is on its way to $100 million domestically, with $91 million in its fifth week. It’s up to $55 million overseas, after adding $7.7 million this weekend.

Fox rolled out Fox rolled out “The Book Thief” in two theaters in New York and two in L.A. and it brought in $108,000. That’s a strong $27,000 per-screen average for the adaptation of Markus Zusak’s wrenching 2006 novel about a young girl (12-year-old Sophie Nelisse) in pre=World War II Germany whose adoptive parents shelter a Jewish refugee.

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Emily Watson, a Best Actress Oscar nominee, and Best Actor Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush co-star in the drama, while Roger Allam from “Game of Thrones” provides the voice of Death.

Fox plans to stay limited before releasing “The Book Thief” wide on the Nov. 27, Thanksgiving weekend. Originally set to debut next spring, the studio opted to go out with it this year so that it could qualify for the Oscar race.

Sony Pictures Clasics debuted Alex Gibney’s documentary “The Armstrong Lie” in five theaters and it brought in $30,904 for a $6,181 per-theater-average.