Theaters clamor for Oscar contenders 'Budapest,' 'Birdman'

Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:23pm EST
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES Jan 15 (Reuters) - What impact does an Oscar nomination have on a film's prospects at the box office? Look no further than "The Grand Budapest Hotel," a movie released 10 months ago that generated a flurry of phone calls from theater owners to studio Fox Searchlight on Thursday morning.

Wes Anderson's quirky comedy scored nine Academy Award nods on Thursday, including best picture, raising new interest in a film that for months has been available on DVD and digital formats.

The arthouse studio was arranging for overnight shipping to 15 to 30 theaters that requested the film, said Frank Rodriguez, senior vice president and general sales manager for Fox Searchlight, a unit of 21st Century Fox.

"I'm at a loss for words for how happy we are for 'Budapest,'" Rodriguez said. "I don't think 'Budapest' would have gotten any new (theater) bookings" without the Oscar recognition."

The film has pulled in $59 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters so far, according to tracking firm Rentrak.

Theater owners were also clamoring to schedule surreal satire "Birdman," another offbeat Fox Searchlight release that scored nine Oscar nominations. The film will double its reach this weekend to about 450 theaters, Rodriguez said, and may play in more than 1,000 the following weekend.

Fox Searchlight led all Hollywood studios with 20 total Oscar nominations for "Birdman," "Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Wild."

Small studio IFC Films had a breakthrough with its first best picture nod for "Boyhood," director Richard Linklater's coming-of-age tale filmed over 12 years with the same actors.   Continued...