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'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' leaves art house, to box office success

January 8, 2012 |  1:44 pm

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had a strong weekend at the box office

The dense spy thriller "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is moving beyond the art house toward commercial success.

The film, adapted from novelist John le Carre's 1974 bestseller, expanded from 57 theaters to 809 this weekend and grossed $5.8 million, according to an estimate from distributor Focus Features. That gave the movie a per-theater average of $7,129; by comparison, "The Descendants," had a $5,000 location average when it recently opened in around the same number of theaters.

Jack Foley, president of domestic distribution for Focus, said he was surprised by how well the film was playing in a variety of markets. While the largest number of ticket sales came from a theater in Lincoln Square in New York, a cinema in a suburb of Oklahoma City was also among the top five.

“That theater is in a suburb like you would expect to find out in middle America, so the demographic is really diverse,” said Foley. “This is a challenging film for a lot of audiences, but this weekend proved it can be commercial in a national way.”

Foley said Focus decided to expand the picture this weekend because of the lack of competition from other new releases. The studio has not yet decided how many theaters it will add in the coming weeks, a figure that may be contingent on the Academy Award nominations.

“Academy recognition would be great, but at this stage we’re taking the money,” he said with a laugh.


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-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Gary Oldman stars in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy." Credit: Focus Features