Awards Box Office: 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,' 'The Artist' Make Gains

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Venice Film Festival - H 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Venice Film Festival - H 2011

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" off to promising start and Wim Wenders' 3D German dance film "Pina" scores impressive opening for a documentary.

British specialty pic Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy continued to do strong business over Christmas weekend, besting much of its competition in key theaters -- all the more notable considering it was shut out of Golden Globe and SAG nominations.

The Focus Features' film, headlining Gary Oldman and also starring Colin Firth and Tom Hardy, made a major push late last week when upping its theater count from 16 to 55 as it moved into additional top markets, such as Dallas, St. Louis and Portland. Working Title produced the film, based on John Le Carre's novel.

Tinker Tailor grossed $1.1 million over the four-day holiday weekend for a stellar location average -- the currency by which limited releases are judged -- of $19,201, the best of any film save for Wim Wenders' German dance documentary Pina, which posted a pleasing theater average of $30,608 as it opened in three theaters, grossing $91,823 for IFC Films.

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Tinker Tailor, which has now earned $2.2 million in the U.S., is holding its own against both indie and commerical films in upscale and arthouse theaters.

For example, it came in No. 2 at the Landmark theater in West L.A. on Monday, beating Steven Spielberg's new Christmas film War Horse, Warner Bros.' new awards entry Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and The Artist. The only movie to do slightly more was David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which grossed $8,396, compared to $8,274 for Tinker Tailor.

At an upscale art theater in Minneapolis, Tinker Tailor posted an opening four day gross of $32,804, compared to $16,804 for The Artist in its debut. And at the Lincoln Square theater in Manhattan, Tinker Tailor bested Extremely Loud on Monday. It also did stellar business in Dallas, grossing $32,811 for the four days, compared to $23,680 for Dragon Tattoo and $11,735 for The Artist.

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"The film is sustaining its momentum with pretty big numbers, even though the competition is enormous," Focus president of distribution Jack Foley said. "There is national recognition now of the film, which now moves into its fourth week."

And Tinker Tailor isn't just drawing older audiences, evidenced by a strong debut in Portland, where arthouse fans are younger.

Regardless of whether Tinker Tailor is beating it in certain locations, The Artist -- an awards frontrunner -- is doing impressive business for a silent, black-and-white film.

On Dec. 23, the Weinstein Co. upped The Artist's count from 17 to 167 locations in a key test for the French pic. The Artist did well, grossing $1.3 million over the four-day holiday weekend for a location average of $7,876 and domestic cume of $2.8 million as it heads into its fifth week of play.

Among new specialty films, Extremely Loud opened on Dec. 23 in six theaters, grossing $114,000 for a strong average of $19,000.

Pina's opening performance is noteworthy for a documentary. The film is Germany's official selection for the Oscar for best foreign language film.

Angelina Jolie's Bosnian war film In the Land of Blood and Honey likewise debuted on Dec. 23 in three theaters, grossing $25,459 for a location average of $8,486. FilmDistrict is distributing the film.

Sony PIctures Classics' Carnage, directed by Roman Polanski, posted a per theater average of $11,626 in its second weekend, grossing $81,838 for a cume of $199,048.

With many off of work this week, the specialty box office should see brisk midweek business.