Awards Box Office: 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' Nabs No. 3 Specialty Opening of 2011

Jack English

Jason Reitman's Charlize Theron starrer "Young Adult" also enjoys strong start.

British espionage thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy--starring Gary Oldman opposite Colin Firth and Tom Hardy--scored one of the top limited openings of the year as it prepares for awards season.

Distributed by Focus Features in the U.S., Tinker Tailor grossed 300,737 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend for a location average of $71,184--the third best of the year after Midnight in Paris ($99,824) and The Tree of Life ($93,000).

STORY: Box Office Report: 'New Year's Eve' Leads Worst Weekend Since 2008 With $13.7 Million

The crticially acclaimed Tinker Tailor, directed by Thomas Alfredson from an adapted screenplay by Peter Straughan and the late Bridget O'Connor, was produced by Working Title and StudioCanal.

Focus president of distribution Jack Foley said all four theaters where the film played saw sell-out crowds, or close to sell-out crowds, from mid-afternoon through 9 p.m. Tinker Tailor played at the ArcLIght Hollywood and Landmark in Los Angeles, and Lincoln Square and the AMC Village 7 in New York City.

The uptick in business from Friday to Saturday indicated that there's real demand in the marketplace for adult-skewing movies, although Tinker Tailor also is appealing to younger moviegoers, evidenced by strong evening shows.

VENICE FILM REVIEW: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

"The film is playing to a mixed audience in terms of age," Foley said.

Tinker Tailor is among a slew of films positioning themselves as awards season heats up, and as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association prepares to announce Golden Globe Nominations on Dec. 15, preceded a day earlier by SAG noms.

Carlize Theron starrer Young Adult -- reteaming director Jason Reitman with his Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody -- also posted strong numbers as Paramount opened the film in eight theaters over the weekend in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Minneapolis, where Gody got her start as a stripper.

Young Adult, costing Paramount $12 million to produce, grossed an estimated $320,000 from the eight theaters for a location average of $40,000. The pic will be playing in a total of 1,000 theaters on Dec. 16.

STORY: 'Young Adult': What the Critics Are Saying

"We have gotten great reviews in the markets where we opened, which allowed us to cut great spots," Paramount president of domestic marketing and distribution Megan Colligan said.

Paramount also believes that Martin Scorsese's Hugo will prosper during awards season. The 3D film, already named the best film of the year by the National Board of Review, expanded into a total of 2,608 theaters over the weekend, grossing $6.1 million for a domestic cume of $33.5 million in its third frame.

A number of platform pics continued to expand this weekend as awards season heated up, including Fox Searchlight's The Descendants, which added 300 theaters to its run. The Alexander Payne-directed film came in No. 7 for the weekend, grossing an estimated $4.4 million from 876 theaters for a stellar domestic cume of $23.6 million.

Searchlight's Shame, hoping to overcome the stigma associated with the NC-17 rating, added 11 theaters to its run for a total count of 21. Directed by Steve McQueen and headlining Michael Fassbender, Shame grossed $276,068 for a location average of $13,146 and cume of $774,154.

STORY: Nudity, Three-Ways, Hints of Incest: A Studio's Plan to Sell 'Shame' to Oscar

The Artist posted an even stronger theater average of $18,258 as it expanded into a total of 16 theaters, grossing $292,130. The Weinstein Co. is distributing the black-and-white, silent film in the U.S.

The Weinstein Co. also has Michelle Williams-starrer My Week with Marilyn, which ended the weekend with a cume of $5.1 million.

David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method held its theater count at four theaters, grossing an estimated $80,125 for an average $20,031 and cume of $539,174.

Madonna's W.E., from the Weinstein Co., and Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay's edgy indie film We Need to Talk About Kevin, starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly, both began one-week award qualifying runs over the weekend in Los Angeles. Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired U.S. rights to We Need to Talk About Kevin out of the Cannes Film Festival.