EXCLUSIVE: Big Oscar Bet for '127 Hours'; Major Expansion Planned

Danny Boyle's Oscar hopeful, now in 76 theaters, will expand to 600 screens Jan. 28.


Fox Searchlight is plotting a big return for filmmaker Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours.
On Jan. 28—three days after Academy Award nominations are announced—the film will up its theater count to more than 600 locations. Currently, 127 Hours is playing in only 76 theaters.
The move is designed to take advantage of expected attention from the Oscars. But while all indications are that James Franco will be nominated for best actor, additional nominations are not necessarily a given. Searchlight is campaigning in the best picture and best director categories, among others. The film scored one of the 10 best-picture nominations from the Producers Guild, but Boyle was not among the Directors Guild’s five nominees. 
There is a sense among box office observers that 127 Hours hasn’t gotten the love it deserves. At the same time, the stranded-hiker drama is tough sell given its subject matter. But attention from Oscar could help draw in audiences.
Opening on Nov. 5 in four theaters, 127 Hours has grossed $11.1 million to date. At its widest, the film played in 433 locations (that was in late November).
In re-launching the film Searchlight is borrowing a page from its past.
The Last King of Scotland, opening in late September 2006, had only grossed $3.7 million by the time Forest Whitaker was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor.
The weekend following Oscar nominations, Searchlight upped the film’s theater count from four to 497. King of Scotland went on to gross a total of $17.5 million.