Rabbit Hole is as good as a high-pedigree grief drama can get. Ordinary People, In The Bedroom…all in the family. Believably performed, concisely written, touching, earnest and true. A major score for director John Cameron Mitchell, producer-star Nicole Kidman, screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire (who adapted from his stage play), costars Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, etc.

And for all of it, Rabbit Hole doesn’t seem to be connecting all that strongly with ticket buyers. Or not so far, at least. It’s only playing in five theatres (or was the last time I looked), but it had only earned just under $75 thousand after six days (12.17 through 12.22) with a per-screen average of $10,756. “The debut weekend was very disconcerting,” says boxofice.com’s Phil Contrino. “Most of the major Oscar contenders have had no problem tallying a location average of more than 50K.” Obviously there’s some kind of hesitation out there.

I’m guessing that people are considering the title (which alludes to darkness and hiding away) and asking themselves if they really want to see some kind of bummer over the Christmas holidays. That’s not what Rabbit Hole is, at all, but you know how people think and how most of them refuse to read reviews, etc. They just watch the trailers and go with gut impressions. Mix this in with general perceptions about Nicole Kidman (i.e., people don’t like her that much, think she’s cold and unrelatable), and you’ve got some kind of situation, or at least the appearance of one.

The overall picture would brighten considerably if and when Rabbit Hole is nominated for Best Picture, which it fully deserves to be. The critcally hailed Lionsgate release is expanding this week with another break set for 1.14.11, so let’s see what happens.