Foreign Oscar Winner ‘The Great Beauty’ Plans Expansion

Paolo Sorrentino’s drama, Italy’s first Academy Award winner in 15 years, hasn’t made a box-office splash in U.S.

“The Great Beauty” on Sunday became the first Italian movie to win the Best Foreign Language Oscar since Robert Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful” captured the prize 15 years ago.

That one was a commercial hit, and got a big box-office boost after its win, taking in $21 million of its $57 million North American haul after the Oscars and going on to make nearly $230 million worldwide.

That’s not going to happen with director Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty,” a modest success with $2.2 million (though nearly $10 million abroad) since opening more than three months ago.

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But U.S. distributor Janus Films, which saw “Great Beauty” bring in $84,299 from 48 theaters this past weekend, is going to give it a shot.

“We’ll try to add 20 or 30 theaters this weekend,” Janus distribution executive Sarah Finklea told TheWrap Monday. “This has always been a word-of-mouth film, and this can only help.”

“Great Beauty” is about a world-weary journalist (Toni Servillo) who falls in with the beautiful people amid the Roman party scene. It pays homage to, and has drawn comparisons with, Federico Fellini’s’s “La Dolce Vita. It’s a critical favorites, with a 92 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Finklea said the film had already rolled out in most major markets, but it would come back if there was interest on the part of theater owners.

Also read: TheWrap Screening Series: ‘Great Beauty’ Director on Pros and Cons of Being Called the New Fellini

“Life is Beautiful” is the exception to the box-office rule on Foreign Language Oscar winners, most of which don’t do major business in the U.S.

“Amour,” the 2013 winner from France, brought in about $7 million domestically and roughly $20 million worldwide. The totals were about the same for the previous year’s winner, Iran’s “A Separation.”

None of that deters Finklea, who says that despite modest grosses for “Great Beauty,” it’s been a money maker for Janus, which has only U.S. rights. It comes out on DVD via Criterion on March 28.

“Making sure that anyone who wants to see it gets the chance to is really our goal,” Finklea said.

Here’s the trailer: