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Countdown to the Oscars: Biutiful

by Sydney Levine
February 2, 2011 8:07 AM
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Surprising in many ways, Biutiful is nominated for two Oscars. Not only is it one of the 5 nominees in the Best Foreign Language category (Mexico), Javier Bardem is also nominated in the Best Actor category. It played in Cannes last spring, where it won a Best Actor prize for Javier Bardem. Roadside Attractions distributing in the U.S. After its December 1 week qualifying run, it is the very first film to debut theatrically after screening at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Playing opposite Kaboom, the weekend’s other major specialty debut, it had a strong opening likely in large part to its somewhat surprising best actor nomination. On 57 screens in 27 markets - an aggressive opening for a foreign film - the film grossed $460,916 for a very respectable $8,084 average. Including the December qualifying run, Biutiful has now grossed $623,226.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with these numbers, which include a 54% increase from Fri to Sat., indicating good word of mouth,” Howard Cohen of Biutiful distributor Roadside Attractions told indieWIRE today. “We’re expanding to about 200 screens next weekend, including a marketing and distribution initiative to the Latino audience.”

Even more impressive are its wide international sales by Focus International. Its International box office success far exceeds its U.S. grosses which makes up a mere 5% of the total worldwide gross of $12,376,079. In Spain it has grossed $4,220,772, In Mexico it has grossed $2,789,488 and in France and French speaking territories Algeria, Monaco, Morocco and Tunisia it has grossed $2,211,820 according to Box Office Mojo.

In the overall analysis for international cinema, the small returns in U.S. are often so unimportant when looking at the larger returns of a film's worldwide success, that some international film sales agents no longer consider U.S. a market worth considering in their overall film projections. Sometimes in Europe and in Asia, U.S. is not even part of the equation when a project is being discussed. While U.S. may be the largest market in the world now, its place in the world market for specialty films is not the biggest consideration in greenlighting a film. This, coupled with the recent economic downturn gives U.S. distributors a clear shot at acquiring films for peanuts and breaking even at the same time as shooting for the moon. When a foreign language film breaks out, prices will again go up, so the 20+ new U.S. distributors that have popped up like mushrooms and are acquiring specialty films have a limited window at such pickings.

Personally, my money is on Music Box for the next big hit. And I hope it is my favorite of the past year, Venezuela's Hermano.

A look below the jump illustrates the place of Biutiful in the world today.

All Box Office Numbers are as reported on Box Office Mojo.
Domestic: $619,240 5.0%
+ Foreign: $11,756,839 95.0%
= Worldwide: $12,376,079

Argentina – Diamond
Australia/ New Zealand – Madman
Belgium-vrt
Brazil – Paris Filmes -$322,914
Canada - Maple Pictures Corp
Denmark - Nordisk
Finland -$47,323
France - ARP - France and Algeria, Monaco, Morocco and Tunisia - $2,211,820
Germany - Prokino Filmverleih
Greece - Odeon - $247,403
Hong Kong - Edko Films
Indonesia – Queen Film
Israel - Lev films (Shani Films)
Japan - IPA Asia Pacific
Latin America - Sun Distribution Group
Mexico - Videocine - $2,789,488
Netherlands - A-film Distribution
Norway - Nordisk Film as
Poland - Kino Swiat
Portugal - Castello Lopes Multimedia - Portugal and Angola $54,080
Spain - $4,220,772
Sweden - Nordisk - $304,015
Switzerland – Monopole Pathe
Taiwan - Serenity Entertainment International
Thailand - $6,165
Turkey - $116,368
United Kingdom - Optimum Releasing - United Kingdom and Ireland and Malta $247,473
U.S. - Roadside Attractions / via Liddell Entertainment - $619,240

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