Specialty Box Office: 'Three Billboards' Defies the Odds in 15th Weekend

With the Oscar ceremony less than two weeks away, the movie is among a number of best-picture nominees parlaying awards attention into box-office gains, including ‘Darkest Hour’ with a mighty $131.6 million in global grosses.

In its fifteenth weekend in release, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri continued to impress at the Presidents Day weekend box office, growing its domestic total to $48.4 million and its international tally to $63.8 million for a worldwide total of $112.2 million to date.

Such is the power of awards season — and particularly an Oscar best picture nomination — for fall specialty films that might otherwise fade from theaters after the year-end holidays.

Three Billboards grossed an estimated $1.9 million from 708 theaters over the four-day holiday weekend, not that far behind the estimated $2.1 million earned by Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water from 957 cinemas in its twelfth outing (both films are from Fox Searchlight). Three Billboards — which won top honors at the Golden Globes last month and at Sunday night’s BAFTAs — is notable for the fact that it first went nationwide in early December, while fellow best-picture nominees Shape of Water and Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour waited until January to do so.

Shape of Water, which is up for a leading 13 Academy Awards nominations, has grossed $53.7 million domestically and another $38.7 million overseas for a worldwide cume of $92.4 million to date. Del Toro’s film has rolled out more slowly overseas than either Three Billboards or Focus Features’ Darkest Hour.

Among the specialty films vying for top Oscar honors, Darkest Hour is the top earner to date, commanding $53.6 million at the U.S. box office and $78 million for a global total of $131.6 million. Its domestic gross over Presidents Day, its thirteenth weekend, was $1.1 million from 602 cinemas.

At its widest, Shape of Water played in 2,341 locations, followed by Darkest Hour in 1,733 cinemas and Three Billboards in 1,726.

Darkest Hour, Shape of Water and Three Billboards all saw their location counts reduced significantly over the holiday weekend, albeit to varying degrees, as theater owners gave screen time to Black Panther and other newer films. That was also the case for the remaining specialty titles competing in the race for best picture: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread (Focus), Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name (Sony Classics) and Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird (A24).

Phantom Thread took in roughly $910,000 from 335 theaters in its eighth weekend for a domestic total of $17.9 million. The largest number of theaters it played in was 1,186 locations. Overseas, the period drama has earned $10 million from its first batch of markets for a $27.9 million cume.

Call Me by Your Name grossed approximately $657,000 from 332 theaters in its thirteenth outing for a domestic total of $15 million and $26 million globally. At its widest, the movie played in 815 cinemas.

Lady Bird, which first opened in select theaters four months ago, followed Call Me by Your Name with roughly $606,000 from 407 locations for a domestic tally of $46.3 million. The dramedy debuted in its first 10 international markets over the weekend, earning $1.9 million, including $1.2 million in Australia. Like Three Billboards, Lady Bird first expanded nationwide in early December.

Steven Spielberg’s The Post, a major studio film from 20th Century Fox, is another best picture contender that’s still in theaters. The movie has earned $134.7 million since debuting over Christmas, including $77.1 million domestically.

This year’s Oscar ceremony is set for Sunday, March 4.

Among new specialty titles making a play over the Presidents Day frame, Sally Potter’s British black comedy The Party scored one of the top location averages of the holiday weekend ($15,003) as it grossed an estimated $45,010 from three theaters. Roadside Attractions is handling the film, which is currently competing for the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Russian film Loveless, which is vying for the best foreign-language film Oscar, took in $40,222 from three cinemas for a location average of $13,407 for Sony Classics.

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