At the grand age of 78 Judi Dench is still proving to have some pulling power at the box office. Her latest film, Philomena, opened in four theaters for the Weinstein Company this past weekend and opened wider in 600 locations yesterday. A $33K per-location average suggests Dench has another hit on her hands, with females over 45 providing the bulk of ticket sales (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel appealed to the same demographic last year and made $136 million worldwide).
Philomena was helped by some extra publicity recently thanks to the Motion Picture Association of America given the film an R rating (for using the F-word twice). The Weinstein Company appealed and managed to get a PG-13 which they were after (plus free promotion).
Watch the trailer below:
Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock – something her Irish-Catholic community didn’t have the highest opinion of – and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn’t allow for any sort of inquiry into the son’s whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son.
Philomena is directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen) and won the award for Best Screenplay at the 70th Venice International Film Festival earlier this year. It currently has 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, suggesting some awards season buzz is afoot, and Judi Dench could receive her fifth Best Actress Oscar nomination.