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Box Office (Specialty): 'Philomena' Beats Competition, Nears $20 Million

"Inside Llewyn Davis," playing in far fewer theaters, also places in the top 15.

Stephen Frears' Philomena saw its North American gross approach $20 million over the weekend as it enjoyed the lowest drop of any film in the top 15.

The British biographical title continues to come in ahead of other specialty award contenders, although it has the advantage of playing in many more theaters. 

In its seventh weekend, Philomena took in $1.6 million from 607 locations for a domestic total of $19.7 million, one of the best showings for a specialty film released in 2013. Globally, the drama, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, has now earned $47.7 million.

Philomena, distributed in the U.S. by The Weinstein Co., only narrowly bested Inside Llewyn Davis (the two films placed No. 14 and No. 15, respectively).

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Llewyn Davis, playing in only 156 theaters, took in $1.2 million for a location average of $7,532 and a North American total of $7 million for CBS Films in its fifth weekend. The Joel and Ethan Coen film, like a handful of other high-profile award contenders, is holding back from expanding aggressively until the Golden Globe award ceremony next week and the announcement of Oscar nominations.

Spike Jonze's Her took in $722,000 from 47 theaters in its third weekend for a location average of $15,362, one of the best of the frame. The Warner Bros.' film has earned a total of $3 million.

Nebraska, from Alexander Payne, grossed $670,000 from 240 locations for a theater average of $2,792 and domestic total of $7.1 million in its eighth weekend.

Among newer entries, Peter Berg's Lone Survivor scored the best theater average of any film for the second weekend in a row, grossing $83,642 from two theaters in New York and Los Angeles for an average of $41,821. The Universal film expands nationwide next weekend, as does Her.

John Wells' August: Osage County took in $140,887 in its second weekend from five theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $28,177, the second-best of the frame. TWC is distributing the film, which has earned a total of $482,656 after receiving decidedly mixed reviews.

The Past, from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, grossed $40,158 from five theaters in its third weekend for a location average of $8,032 and North American total of $160,213. While shut out of the Oscar race, the Sony Pictures Classics release did earn a Globe nomination for best foreign language film.