Big-city audiences are packing theaters for Hollywood's end-of-the-year flood of award contenders.
Just a week after "The King's Speech" posted the best limited-release opening of the year, "The Black Swan" came in arguably even better.
Director Darren Aronofsky's psychosexual drama about competitive ballet took in nearly $1.4 million from 18 theaters in eight cities, according to an estimate Sunday from distributor Fox Searchlight.
Its per-theater average of $77,459 was slightly lower than that of "King's Speech," but "Black Swan," which stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, debuted at more than four times as many locations, making its start more impressive.
With mostly good reviews — The Times' was a notable exception — Searchlight hopes that "The Black Swan" will ride good word ofmouth toward very strong returns as it expands over the next three weeks until it is playing nationwide.
"The King's Speech," which is following a very similar release pattern, had a very healthy second weekend. It took in $325,874 at six theaters, boosting its 10-day total to $808,874.
If either movie picks up several Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, it could keep playing well into January and February.
Also in limited release, the romantic comedy "I Love You Phillip Morris," starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, finally hit theaters after a number of false starts since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009. It had a good but not great opening of $113,200 at six theaters in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.