Four days after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announce their nominees for the 83rd annual Academy Awards, Fox Searchlight will be expanding Danny Boyle‘s 127 Hours, a visually stunning narrative retelling of one man’s battle vs nature starring James Franco. The film opened on November 5 and has since made just north of $11 million. At its widest expansion, the movie played on 433 screens. Starting January 28, though, the film will expand to 600 theaters because it’s expected to get at least a Best Actor nomination and possibly Best Director, Best Picture and other nominations as well. Read more after the jump.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of the expansion, and likens the move to what Searchlight did 2006 for The Last King of Scotland. That movie had only made $3.7 million when Forrest Whitaker was nominated for Best Actor and was only playing on four screens. It then expanded from 4 to 497 screens right after the nominations and ended up earning $17.5 million, aided in huge part by Whitaker’s win.

And people think the Oscars don’t matter. There’s proof right there.

127 Hours has probably not experienced the success it could have simply because of the negative press about people finding it so violent and upsetting they passed out in theaters. That was possibly a great example of all press not being good press. Franco, however, will surely pump the film up – nominations or not – when he’s actually hosting the Oscars along with the new Selina Kyle, Anne Hathaway.

What do you think are the Oscar chances for 127 Hours? Best Actor is almost a lock, Best Director has a shot, Best Picture there’s an outside possibility and then it’ll surely get some kind of music nomination. Sound about right?

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