Specialty Box Office: 'Imitation Game' Nabs Top Theater Average of Fall Awards Season

Jack English/The Weinstein Company

Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley star in the historical drama

Director Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game opened to a stellar $482,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles over Thanksgiving weekend for a location average of $120,500, the best showing of the fall awards season to date.

The critically acclaimed World War II drama, earning an A+ CinemaScore from audiences, stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician who cracked the German Enigma code and helped win World War II before being prosecuted by the British government for homosexual acts. Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Mark Strong also star.

Imitation Game posted the second-best theater average of the year after Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel ($202,792), which opened in March, and bested fellow awards contender Birdman, which scored a theater average of $106,099 when debuting last month.

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"Budapest Hotel had little competition, so our number is just tremendous. Imitation Game was released on a crowded weekend with four or five other awards contenders in the marketplace" said Erik Lomis, distribution chief for The Weinstein Co.

Thanksgiving weekend has been a lucky charm for awards maven Harvey Weinstein and his team. Oscar winners The Artist and The King's Speech also debuted over the holiday.

Imitation Game skewed slightly female (52 percent), while 56 percent of the audience was over the age of 35. The movie won't expand into additional markets until Dec. 12, following the announcement of Golden Globe nominations Dec. 11.

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Tyldum's film certainly wasn't the only awards hopeful making gains, even if it was the only new opener.

Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher, starring Channing Tatum and Steve Carell, successfully expanded into a total of 72 theaters in its third weekend, grossing $1 million for the weekend for a strong location average of $14,329 and domestic total of $2.1 million for Sony Pictures Classics.

Focus Features' Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, moved up the chart to No. 7 as it expanded into a total of 802 theaters in its fourth weekend, grossing $5.1 million for the weekend and $6.4 million for the five-day Thanksgiving holiday (Wednesday-Sunday). Theory of Everything's domestic total is $9.6 million.

Birdman, from director Alejandro G. Inarritu, remained in the top 10 in its eighth weekend, earning $1.9 million for the three days and $2.4 for the five days for a domestic total of $17.2 million for Fox Searchlight and New Regency.

On its opening weekend, Foxcatcher posted a location average of $45,146 when launching in six theaters, while The Theory of Everything recorded an opening-weekend theater average of $41,753 when first rolling out in five locations.