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'The Grey' Tops Weekend Box Office

So far, every weekend this year has been an "up" weekend, after a somewhat dismal fourth quarter in 2011.

" Mission: Impossible, I think, really helped reinvigorate the marketplace, and that's carried over into the first part of the year," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for "That's good news for Hollywood after the down-trending box office of 2011."

Oscar favorites The Descendants, Hugo and The Artist sought to capitalize on their recent Academy Awards nominations. Each expanded to more theaters and saw an uptick in business.

Fox Searchlight's The Descendants, which is nominated for five Oscars including best picture, added 1,441 screens in its 11th week of release. It added $6.6 million and has now made $58.8 million, making it one of Fox Searchlight's most successful releases.

Sheila DeLoach, senior vice president of distribution for Fox Searchlight [a unit of <b>News Corp.</b> <span class=" TICKERFLAT">(<a href="/quote/NWS.html">NWS</a><a class=" arrow" href="/quote/NWS.html"><span class=" tickerChange" id="story_NWS"></span></a>)</span>], said the film's nominations and its recent Golden Globes wins (for best drama and best actor, George Clooney) "played a big role" in its weekend box office.

[<b>Viacom's</b> <span class=" TICKERFLAT">(<a href="/quote/VIA.html">VIA</a><a class=" arrow" href="/quote/VIA.html"><span class=" tickerChange" id="story_VIA"></span></a>)</span>] Paramount's Hugo, which led Oscar nominations with 11 including best picture, saw a 143% jump in business over its last weekend. In its 10th week of release, it earned $2.3 million, bringing its total to $58.7 million.

The Weinstein Co.'s The Artist, with 10 Oscar nominations including best picture, expanded a modest 235 screens to bring it to a total of 897 screens in its 10th week of release. It earned $3.3 million, with a total of $16.7 million.

The Weinstein Co. is being careful with the black-and-white, largely silent film. Thus far, it has appealed particularly to older audiences.

"It's not the same type of picture as any other picture in the marketplace," said Erik Loomis, head of distribution for the Weinstein Co. "Now that the nominations are out, we're going to look to capitalize on it as best we can. ... We're being very, very meticulous with it. We're not throwing it out there and grabbing every theater we can. At some point, we'll open the floodgates on the movie, maybe closer to the awards."
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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