‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ has solid debut in limited release

Idris Elba, left, plays Nelson Mandela in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."
(Keith Bernstein / Weinstein Co.)
<i>This post has been corrected, as indicated below</i>

Opening on a crowded holiday weekend during which “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Frozen” broke Thanksgiving records, the Nelson Mandela biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” made a solid box-office debut in four theaters.

The Weinstein Co. film, starring Idris Elba as the South African icon, opened Friday and made about $100,300 through Sunday, averaging more than $25,000 per theater.

That’s a decent showing for a limited release movie on a busy weekend, though not quite as strong as Weinstein Co.'s recent four-theater opening of “Philomena,” the drama starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, which brought in about $32,100 per location in its first weekend.

Early last month, Focus Features’ “Dallas Buyers Club” bowed in nine locations to the tune of $29,000 per screen, after Fox Searchlight’s critical darling “12 Years a Slave” made its October limited launch with $48,600 per theater.


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“Mandela,” directed by Justin Chadwick, has been mostly well-received by critics, with a rating of 60% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.

Elsewhere at the box office, “Philomena” made the top 10, taking ninth place with $3.79 million over the three-day weekend, and $4.6 million counting Wednesday and Thursday. Fox’s family film “The Book Thief” generated $4.85 million over three days and $6.4 million for the full five-day holiday weekend, placing it at No. 7.

Spike Lee‘s “Oldboy,” the FilmDistrict remake of the 2003 Korean cult hit, was a bust, taking in just $1.2 million from fewer than 600 theaters.


[For the record: An earlier version of this post misstated the three-day total gross for “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”]


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