Archive for December, 2013

Third consecutive international win for ‘The Hobbit 2’

December 30th, 2013 - admin

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ grossed an outstanding $98.3m at the international weekend box office, almost twice the earnings of its nearest challenger and a low 18% week-on-week fall.  It expanded from 56 to 62 international markets with Germany being its most successful territory with a superb $15.8m hold.  The Middle Earth sequel has now taken an impressive $423.8m internationally and, after factoring in North America, $616.1m worldwide.


Disney’s ‘Frozen’ continued to flourish and grossed a strong $50.5m from 43 markets for new international and worldwide running totals of $243.5m and $491.9m respectively.  With China and Japan still to come, the comedy animation should make an impression internationally well into the New Year.  The UK is currently its leading territory on $38.8m.


The weekend was also notable for Sony passing the $3b milestone at the worldwide box office with $1.9b coming from international markets.

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December 30th, 2013 - admin

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Close box office win for ‘Hobbit 2’

December 30th, 2013 - admin

For the second consecutive weekend, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ overturned a slight Friday deficit to win the North American box office.  It finished the three days on a strong $29.8m from a market high 3,928 theatres in line with expectations for a tiny 2% week-on-week drop.  IMAX contributed 17% towards the film’s weekend takings.


There was a more comprehensive win for the Middle Earth sequel over the five day extended Christmas period.  The film grossed an exceptional $49.3m over the session, almost $6m clear of its nearest rival, and celebrated a Christmas Day win and a 13% increase on Boxing Day.  Its domestic tally now stands at $190.3m.


But it was Disney’s ‘Frozen’ that grabbed the headlines heading into its sixth week in play.  The animation adventure finished the three day session on an outstanding $28.8m from 3,335 theatres and it boasted a jaw dropping 47% increase from last weekend.  The extended Christmas period was equally impressive with the film clocking up $43.7m over the five days, including a 43% Boxing Day hike.


Together ‘The Hobbit 2’ and ‘Frozen’ accounted for 34.2% of the weekend’s overall takings.


‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ claimed the third spot after a close battle with two award contenders, ‘American Hustle’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.  The Ron Burgundy sequel grossed a decent $20.1m from 3,507 theatres over the three days, taking its running total to $83.6m since arriving on December 18.


David O. Russell’s ‘American Hustle’ continued its strong box office performance, taking $19.5m from 2,507 theatres over the three-day session for a $0.5m week-on-week increase.  The idiosyncratic comedy opened in the specialist market with a spectacular $115,000 per-site average before going wide last weekend and it has already amassed an eye catching $60m.


Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ finished the weekend $1m behind ‘American Hustle’ from slightly more theatres having been neck and neck on Friday night.  Its five-day tally of $34.3m since opening on Christmas Day is fractionally higher than expected after first night audiences awarded the Wall Street drama a ‘C’ CinemaScore.  The film’s controversial sexual content almost certainly contributed towards  its poor rating.


December 29th, 2013 - admin

On the face of it, Alexander Payne may appear to be raking over old ground with his latest feature,  ‘Nebraska’.  It marks a return to the road movie genre, which went a long way to making his name with ‘About Schmidt’ and ‘Sideways’ shortly after the new millennium and, once again, builds on Payne’s favourite theme of male crisis.  But it is apparent from the opening scenes that there is a new mood prevailing over this one; pared down to basics and shot in a grainy black and white, which is both stark and strangely nostalgic at one and the same time.


And it’s no coincidence that Nebraska’s characters have the same washed out resignation that we associate with the wandering nomads from the classic road movies of New Hollywood.  Just as the Seventies suffered from a sense of loss, anxiety and failed hope after the youth revolution came to nothing, Payne picks up on a similar despondency during our troubled times.  We could say the same thing of Jeff Nichols’ ‘Mud’.


Bruce Dern has a reputation for being a fine character actor, specialising in meaty supporting roles.  But anybody who has seen Dern as Big Bob Freelander in Michael Ritchie’s sometimes overlooked New Hollywood gem, ‘Smile’, knows that he is just as good playing the lead.  And, almost forty years down the road, he excels here in the principal role as Woody, a cantankerous drunk and retired mechanic, who is somewhat disorientated in life as senility beckons.  Calling on all that experience, Dean superbly captures the slow movements, carelessness and lost trains of thought that go with the territory but every once in a while – perfectly judged fleeting moments – he throws in the odd hint of more; usually a purposeful gesture or a sustained look, which arouse our interest but leave us curious.


We find Woody trying to escape a routine of perpetual boredom in Billings, Montana when he embarks on an impossible interstate walk after receiving a bogus junk-mail $1m prize on condition that he collects it from Lincoln, Nebraska.  But this is no revamp of ‘Straight Story’, with an old guy using ingenuity and dignity to defy the odds in crossing hundreds of miles by his own steam.  Woody does not understand the odds in the first place and when a concerned policeman asks him where he is travelling, Woody merely points straight head without uttering a word or batting an eyelid.


Will Forte has put his name in the frame for major parts with a sensitive but unsentimental performance as Woody’s son, David.  Getting by for the moment selling stereos, we wonder how sustainable that may be as the recession’s economic chill bites deep into N.W. America.  David has that familiar air of responsibility that sometimes goes hand in hand with the mundane and offers to drive Woody all the way to Lincoln without leaving any scope for a refusal.  But this is more than simply getting the pipe dream out of Woody’s system, it is an opportunity to connect with his Dad for the first and, possibly, last time.


And June Squibb completes a trio of exceptional performances playing Woody’s long suffering but fierce wife, Kate.  The relationship has reached the familiar point of narrow-minded mutual impatience where they scold each other without listening to the response – a given on both sides.  Kate amuses herself and others, including us, with obscene and dubious sounding tales of how seemingly every other man in the area has tried to find their way into her knickers at some stage or other.  At one point she stands over a grave, raises her dress and shows a once would-be suitor what he had missed.


The film’s middle section takes us to Woody’s home town, Hawthorne, where David takes a detour for an impromptu family reunion.  Woody communicates with his brothers in two or three words at a time and his nephews taunt David in an increasingly menacing manner.  In one brilliant scene, we get a shot of the clan as if filmed from inside the telly, which they are half-heartedly watching in a semi-conscious zombie-like state.


At the local honky tonk, we discover one or two things about Woody’s past that take us by surprise and Woody sees his old-timer friends in a new light when word gets out that he may be coming into some serious money.


Collectively, these scenes paint a telling picture of melancholic small town hopelessness, which feels all too real.


‘Nebraska’ is ultimately a film about end games – old age, backwater America and traditional cinema – but Payne’s previous warmth as a director does not entirely desert him and nor does it compromise the harsher reality that he is depicting.  Affectionate and humorous asides seamlessly weave in and out of the narrative in ways that are genuinely moving and engaging and Phedon Papamichael’s monochrome photography carries with it a solemn beauty, which does much to set the film’s tone.


And we never do find out whether Woody really believes that he has won a pot of gold.

‘Frozen’ excels at the North American box office

December 29th, 2013 - admin

Disney’s ‘Frozen’ cashed in on the family audience to gross a spectacular $10.2m from 3,335 theatres during a busy Friday at the North American box office.  Astonishingly, this comes as the film enters its sixth weekend in play and the animation comedy is on pace to finish the three days around the $30m mark.  It currently stands on a strong $230m domestically.


But ‘Frozen’ was not the only film excelling on Friday.  ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ was only $0.1m behind from a market high 3,928 theatres after finishing 16 percent higher than this time last week.  The weekend’s No.1 position is too close to call between the two films but ‘The Hobbit 2’ will easily win over the extended five-day session with it on course for a powerful $50m, approximately $7m ahead of ‘Frozen’.


‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ came third with a decent $7.2m from 3,507 theatres.  The Ron Burgundy sequel has now taken over $70m since arriving on December 18.


David O. Russell’s ‘American Hustle’ continued to catch the eye as the Academy Award voting got under way.  The idiosyncratic comedy grossed an impressive $6.4m from just 2,507 theatres and should pass $20m over the three days to beat last weekend’s haul.


Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ came in only $0.2m behind from slightly more theatres and will challenge ‘Anchorman 2’ and ‘American Hustle’ for the No.3 spot.  The Wall Street drama’s earnings have held up reasonably well considering that the film received a disappointing ‘C’ CinemaScore rating upon its Christmas Day launch.  Its controversial sexual content may have impacted on the CinemaScore.

‘Wolf of Wall Street’ encounters hostile audience reaction

December 28th, 2013 - admin

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ had an uncomfortable ride during the first two days of the extended North American weekend box office.  It missed out on the No.1 spot on Christmas Day by a mere $0.1m but only received a ‘C’ CinemaScore from first night audiences, possibly a reflection of the film’s controversial sexual content.  The lack of word of mouth buzz had an immediate impact on Boxing Day, when the film’s earnings dropped by 27%, a much higher rate than any other top five film.  It is currently on pace to finish the session around the $32-33m mark.


‘The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’ will comfortably finish in top spot and may even exceed $50m over the five days.  The Middle Earth sequel’s worldwide takings passed the $500m milestone on Boxing Day.

Native Americans suing Scott Cooper

December 26th, 2013 - admin

Things are going from bad to worse for Scott Cooper’s second feature, ‘Out of the Furnace’.  It was once touted as a possible Oscar contender but average reviews and a disappointing box office performance put paid to those kind of ambitions.  And now, seventeen Native Americans are suing Scott Cooper and the production over what they allege is Woody Harrelson’s and Bobby Wolfe’s defamatory depiction of their clan.

New cast members for Gavron’s Suffragette

December 26th, 2013 - admin

Helena Bonham Carter and Anne-Marie Duff have joined Carey Mulligan in the cast of Sarah Gavron’s keenly anticipated ‘Suffragette’.  As the name suggests, it dramatises women’s struggle to earn voting rights at the beginning of the last century.  Abi Morgan, who co-wrote Gavron’s last feature ‘Brick Lane’ and Steve McQueen’s ‘Shame’, provides the script.

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Lionsgate recalls Italian posters

December 25th, 2013 - admin

Lionsgate is withdrawing the controversial ’12 Years A Slave’ Italian posters, which feature white supporting actors, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt, rather than black lead, Chiwetel Ejiofor.  Faced with an angry outcry, Lionsgate took immediate action, claiming that it had not authorised the posters at any time.  Either way, the saga is a major embarrassment for the company’s executives, who, clearly, should have set up adequate processes to avoid it happening in any circumstances; particularly given the subject matter of the film.

Could American Hustle spring a surprise?

December 24th, 2013 - admin

It was slightly earlier during the run up to last Christmas that Zero Dark Thirty dominated the opening critics awards and Lincoln appeared to have strong support within the industry ahead of the guild ceremonies, setting up a likely two-horse Oscar showdown.  But, defying expectations, Argo started to pick up some best picture critics prizes and it soon became apparent that we were witnessing a momentum shift, which made a complete mockery of countless Oscar predictions.


And here we go again approaching this year’s Oscars; 12 Years a Slave emerging from the critics awards having been in complete control of the best film category, and, supposedly, now in a head to head with Gravity, which has done well collecting best director prizes and, by all accounts, enjoys support within the industry.  But it is worth bearing in mind during this year’s award seasons’ Christmas break that it was a combination of critical acclaim and commercial success at the right moment which gave Argo its momentum boost, somewhat against the odds.  Looking now at the current state of play, is it fanciful for us to turn our attention towards American Hustle’s outstanding reviews, box office feats during the last two weekends and stellar high profile cast – Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence – and ask whether the film enjoys a groundswell of support that is not evident from the critics awards but could, yet, have a bearing on the Oscar race?  With the Oscar voting about to get under way, American Hustle is certainly grabbing the headlines and column inches at just the right time.

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Strong hold for ‘The Hobbit 2’

December 23rd, 2013 - admin

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ grossed a strong $96m at the international weekend box office to retain the No.1 position with ease.  It was active in 56 international markets in total and Russia lead the way with an $18.8m launch.  The Middle Earth adventure has now taken $276.3m internationally after two weekends in play.


Disney’s animation comedy,’Frozen’, earned another $35.1m from 33markets, taking its international running total to $152.6m.  It lands in nine new territories this week, including Australia and Taiwan.


Paramount released ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ day-and-date with North America in six territories for an early $13.4m.  The UK was the film’s most successful market with $7.4m but it was not quite enough to take the No.1 spot from ‘The Hobbit 2’.

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‘The Hobbit 2’ retains top spot after Saturday push

December 23rd, 2013 - admin

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ came from behind after Friday to retain the No.1 spot at the North American weekend box office.  It grossed a solid $31.4m from a market high 3,928 theatres during its second weekend in play after enjoying a Saturday upturn on the back of family audiences.  This represents a 57% drop, which corresponds with the original’s fall at the same stage of its run.


Paramount’s ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’, with Will Ferrell returning from the original, grossed $26.7m over the three days for an early running total of $40m since Wednesday’s opening.  This falls somewhat short of market forecasts, which always looked over optimistic, but, after factoring in seasonal factors and strong competition, the numbers are better than they may first seem.  Moving forward, there is potential for stronger holds during the holiday season but the film’s so-so ‘B’ CinemaScore may not be enough to give it a word of mouth push.  It is currently active in 3,507 theatres.


David O. Russell’s ‘American Hustle’ is grabbing the headlines for the second weekend in a row.  After a $115,000 per-site average from six theatres in the specialist market upon last weekend’s launch, the dark comedy expanded to 2,507 theatres this Friday and finished the three days on a stunning $19m for a new David O. Russell wide release record.


It was also an exceptional session for Disney’s ‘Frozen’, which finished joint third with ‘American Hustle.  The animation adventure is now enjoying the benefits of having received an ‘A+’ CinemaScore from first night audiences as the powerful word of mouth continued to build momentum during its fourth weekend.  It manifested itself in the film’s $19m tally being down only 13% week on week.

First outright win for ‘Gravity’

December 22nd, 2013 - admin

Late into the critics awards, as the Utah group has its say, Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’ eventually secured the film’s first outright best picture win.  It did, nevertheless, share the top prize with Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards and has collected 13 best director prizes along the way.  It remains to be seen whether ‘Gravity ‘ can muster more support in the best picture stakes when the guilds awards get under way during the New Year.


Best Picture


Winner: Gravity

(runner-up: 12 Years A Slave)


Best Achievement in Directing


Winner: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

(runner-up: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave)


Best Lead Performance by an Actor


Winner: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

(runner-up: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis)


Best Lead Performance by an Actress


Winner: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color

(runner-ups: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine & Sandra Bullock, Gravity) (tie)


Best Supporting Performance by an Actor


Winner: Bill Nighy, About Time

(runner-up: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave)


Best Supporting Performance by an Actress


Winner: Scarlett Johansson, Her

(runner-up: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle)


Best Original Screenplay


Winner: Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright, The World’s End

(runner-up: Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Way Way Back)


Best Adapted Screenplay


Winner: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight

(runner-up: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave)


Best Cinematography


Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

(runner-up: Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis)


Best Documentary Feature


Winner: The Act of Killing

(runner-up: Blackfish)


Best Non-English Language Feature


Winner: Blue Is the Warmest Color

(runner-up: The Past)


Best Animated Feature


Winner: Frozen

(runner-ups: From Up on Poppy Hill & The Wind Rises) (tie)

Close battle for the weekend No.1 spot

December 22nd, 2013 - admin

Paramount’s ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ edged ahead of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ at Friday’s North American box office by the smallest of margins but will probably have to settle for second place over the weekend session once the family audiences turn out during Saturday and Sunday.


The Ron Burgundy sequel grossed $8.7m during Friday from 3,507 theatres, and it is on pace to finish the weekend around the $30m mark.  Although this may appear slightly disappointing relative to expectations, market forecasts underestimated seasonal factors, and it would be a solid enough return.


The film received reasonable reviews and a so-so ‘B’ CinemaScore, which are in line with its steady business since opening on Wednesday.  It currently stands on an early $21.9m.


‘The Hobbit 2’ was only $0.1m behind on Friday night but the film’s wider family appeal should allow it to finish the weekend $2m clear in the No.1 spot.  The Middle Earth sequel is currently playing in a market high 3,928 theatres during its second weekend in play.


Watch out for awards contender, ‘American Hustle’ in third place.  Having stolen the headlines last weekend with its $115,000 per-site average in the specialist market, the film is at it again.  The crime comedy grossed a stunning $6.3m after expanding from six to 2,507 theatres on Friday and it has a realistic shot of exceeding $20m over the three days. This would easily set a new record for a David O. Russell wide release.

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‘Anchorman 2’ unlikely to debut at No.1

December 21st, 2013 - admin

‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’, with Will Ferrell returning as Ron Burgundy, arrived in North American theatres on Wednesday and Thursday with an early $13.2m from 3,450 theatres.  This puts the Paramount comedy on pace for a $27m Friday-Sunday session, which will fall short of wrestling the No. 1 spot from ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’.  It received decent reviews, but not enough to change the general trend, and a so-so ‘B’ CinemaScore.

Saving Mr. Banks

December 21st, 2013 - admin

If a Disney film told the truth, then, it would not be true to the studio.  There is nothing wrong with a ‘spoonful of sugar’ as long as it is clear where the boundaries lie, the film charms rather patronises the audience and its witty asides prevent it all from drifting into excess and flying away like a kite.


Normally, Disney targets the family audience; a fantasy for the kids with plenty of knowing double meanings to keep the adults engaged.  The studio’s latest film works the other way around, one for the adults – particularly those who grew up during the Sixties – but without ignoring the younger viewers.  And it works an absolute treat.


This is a sanitised/Disneyfied account of how Walt Disney coaxed, flattered and enticed fierce battle-axe author, PL Travers, into relinquishing film rights to her precious Mary Poppins character after holding out for twenty years.  It plays out against flashbacks to Travers’ difficult childhood in Australia where her alcoholic father regressed into a childlike fantasy, which – possibly unintentionally – shows what would happen if a Disney adult character encountered the real world.


Emma Thompson is hilarious playing Travers as a fish out of water snob, who treats anything American, and Hollywood in particular, with a very British ‘upper lip’ disdain – “I won’t have her turned into one of your silly cartoons” – and makes a virtue out of walking around with her nose in the air and slapping down – well – everybody.  A tape recording of the real Travers on set, which we hear during the end credits, reveals Thompson’s portrayal to be one of the film’s more accurate parts.


Tom Hanks plays Disney in the way that you would expect for a movie from the film magnate’s own studio – every bit the gracious and charming Uncle Walt – but uses all his experience and immense talent to gently and nostalgically poke fun at Disney’s distinctive brand of sentimentality without, at any time, destabilising the film.  Coming hot on the heels of Captain Phillips, it has been a great year for Hanks and a reminder of how filmmakers have underused him during recent times.


And BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman chip in with a seductive turn as the Disney songwriting pair, the Sherman brothers, providing a delightful blend of childlike enthusiasm and musical sophistication.  Travers – sorry, ‘Mrs Travers’ or simply ‘Mrs’ if you were an American chauffeur – ultimately finds them irresistible and so do we.


John Lee Hancock’s reputation as being a filmmaker who cannot resist a bit of sentimentality, even when dealing with realist material, would have helped him get this gig.  Ironically, though, Hancock takes a step back – in the same way as Hanks – and makes a very knowing film that contextualises ‘sentimentality’ as much as it does incorporate it.  The result is a film about Mary Poppins’ creator in the spirit of the original Sixties musical adaptation without any pretence.  How else could they have got away with completely changing the ending to the real life saga, which takes on an irony of its own?


It will be interesting to see what Hancock comes up with next!  As for this one, it is spot on.

Best foreign language film Oscar shortlist

December 21st, 2013 - admin

The race for the best foreign language film Oscar has been a non-event ever since Abdellatif Kechiche’s outstanding Palme d’Or winner, ‘Blue Is the Warmest Colour’, failed to reach the first phase of the flawed process.  It provided a compelling case for those arguing in favour of a wild card safety net to catch any absurd omissions; particularly where one country must choose between two or more serious Oscar contenders as its sole representative.


The Academy caused further controversy today when it reduced the 76 national submissions to just nine and the exclusions provoked more headlines than the survivors.  Haifaa Al-Mansour’s first film made by a woman filmmaker in Saudi Arabia, ‘Wadjda’, and Asghar Farhadi’s Golden Globe nominated divorce drama, ‘The Past’ were the highest- profile casualties.


Out of the remaining nine, Felix Van Groeningen’s ‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’ best fits the Oscar profile but it will receive strong competition from two Cannes titles, Thomas Vinterberg’s ‘The Hunt’ and Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘The Great Beauty’, the first from 2012 and the other from this year.




Belgium, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Felix van Groeningen
Bosnia and Herzegovina, An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker, Danis Tanovic
Cambodia, The Missing Picture, Rithy Panh
Denmark, The Hunt, Thomas Vinterberg
Germany, Two Lives, Georg Maas
Hong Kong, The Grandmaster, Wong Kar-wai
Hungary, The Notebook, Janos Szasz
Italy, The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino
Palestine, Omar, Hany Abu-Assad

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December 18th, 2013 - admin

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Lucrecia Martel plans to enter production on ‘Zama’

December 18th, 2013 - admin

An intriguing collaboration sees Pedro Almodovar’s company, El Deseo, producing the next feature from the Argentinian new wave’s leading filmmaker, Lucrecia Martel (‘The Holy Girl’, ‘The Headless Woman’).  Adapted from Antonio di Benedetto’s classic novel, ‘Zama’, it will portray a high-ranking official’s descent into a damnation of his own making when serving in another territory.    Martel plans to enter production next year.

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Seven critic awards go with the flow

December 17th, 2013 - admin

A cluster of seven awards – Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Kansas, Online, St Louis, Indiana and Southeastern – ended any lingering doubt over which film would emerge as the critics’ overall selection for the year’s No.1.  All of the groups honoured Steve McQueen’s ’12 Years a Slave’ but, as with last year, there is no guarantee that the industry will follow suit when it has a say after Christmas.


There was a less clear picture with the best director prize.  Kansas awarded it jointly to ‘Gravity’ (Alfonso Cuaròn) and ’12 Years a Slave’ with each film receiving three outright director wins from the other groups.

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ lands No.1 in 49 international markets

December 16th, 2013 - admin

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ grossed a strong $131.2m to dominate the international weekend box office.  The Middle Earth sequel landed in the No.1 spot throughout the 49 international markets where it opened and Germany lead the way on $18.1m for the territory’s highest weekend launch of the year.


On the face of it, the film’s international earnings seem to be on a par with the original but closer attention to detail reveals a slightly different picture.  In reality, the sequel enjoyed a higher daily average during its conventional three-day session with the original having had an extra day in some markets.cost of once daily cialis discount daily cialis online medication cialis online generic cialis safety

‘American Hustle’ off to a flyer

December 16th, 2013 - admin

The speciality market grabbed the headlines at the North American weekend box office when David O Russell’s ‘American Hustle’ opened in six theatres with a whopping $115,000 per-site average.  Sony will expand the crime drama to 2,500 locations this week as part of the film’s build up to the Oscars, where a best picture nomination seems very likely.  With strong reviews and an outstanding cast, including Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, it is well placed for a successful holiday run.


Another awards contender, ‘Saving Mr. Banks’, starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, arrived in 15 theatres for a solid $28,067 per site average.  It will also have a wide expansion this week to a slightly lower 2,200 locations.  Thompson is a shoo-in for a best actress Oscar nomination but the film will probably miss out in the best picture category.  This would follow the Golden Globe nominations.


At the other end of the scale, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ debuted in the No.1 spot with a decent but unspectacular $73.7m.  This was only in line with the lower end of market expectations notwithstanding that the Middle Earth sequel received an ‘A-’ CinemaScore from first night audiences and better reviews than the original.  Comparisons with the original’s opening $85m launch are misleading, though, as the sequel played in 142 less theatres.


The other wide release, ‘Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas’, grossed a soft $16m over the three days.  It again received an ‘A-’ CinemaScore but did not receive the word of mouth kick that it required.order cialis generic generic cialis dosebuy cialis cyprus buy cialis las vegas

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ takes control

December 15th, 2013 - admin

Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth sequel, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’, took control of the North American box office with a $31m opening Friday, including Thursday’s midnight screenings, which puts it on pace for a $76m weekend.  Although these projections are at the lower end of market forecasts, it would still be a strong debut relative to budget.


Comparisons with the original are misleading.  ‘An Unexpected Journey’ grossed a high $85m upon its launch but opened in 142 more theatres than the sequel and did not have to compete against the likes of ‘Frozen’ and ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’, both enjoying powerful holiday runs.


And a ‘A-‘ CinemaScore from the sequel’s first night audiences and better reviews than the original should combine into effective word of mouth during the coming weeks.


It was a disappointing Friday in second place for the other weekend wide release, ‘Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas’.  It grossed a lukewarm $5.7m from 2,194 theatres and will struggle to gross much more than $15m over the three days.  ‘Frozen’ will easily overtake it once the Saturday and Sunday family audiences arrive, and the animated adventure should finish the weekend in the $25m cialis melbourne generic cialis 20 mg cheap generic cialis online pharmacy canada order brand cialis online

Saving Mr. Banks misses out on a Golden Globe best comedy nomination

December 13th, 2013 - admin

The Golden Globe’s separate categories for best drama and comedy – effectively, ten films in the frame for two awards – diminishes the value of its nominations as an Oscar indicator.  Apart from Saving Mr. Banks’ exclusion and Rush’s nomination, this year’s lists collectively include all the major contenders for the best picture Oscar.


The best director nominations are by far the most interesting.  You never know, the list of five – 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, American Hustle, Nebraska and Captain Phillips – could correspond with the Oscar nominations for best film and director.


The smart money is on 12 Years a Slave to win best film and Gravity to take best director for both the Oscars and the Golden Globes.


The Golden Globes ceremony will be held on January 12, 2014.






12 Years a Slave
Captain Phillips




American Hustle
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf of Wall Street



Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O Russell, American Hustle




Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All Is Lost




Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr Banks
Kate Winslet, Labor Day




Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Joaquin Phoenix, Her




Amy Adams, American Hustle
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County




Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club




Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage Country
June Squibb, Nebraska




12 Years a Slave
American Hustle




12 Years a Slave
All Is Lost
The Book Thief
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom




‘Atlas’, Coldplay (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
‘Let It Go’, Idina Menzel (Frozen)
‘Ordinary Love’, U2 (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
‘Please Mr Kennedy’, Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver (Inside Llewyn Davis)
‘Sweeter Than Fiction’, Taylor Swift (One Chance)




Blue is the Warmest Colour (La vie d’Adèle)
The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza)
The Hunt (Jagten)
The Past (Le Passé)
The Wind Rises (Kaze tachinu)




The Croods
Despicable Me 2
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SAG follows the trend

December 12th, 2013 - admin

The Screen Actors Guild was the first of the heavyweights to participate in this year’s awards season with the announcement of its nominations this morning.


The nominations confirmed 12 Years a Slave’s standing as the dominant film so far.  Steve McQueen’s slave drama came into the awards season as the Oscar frontrunner and has subsequently strengthened its position by winning the last four critics’ awards.  And now it leads the SAG nominations with best cast – SAG’s equivalent to strongest film – leading actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), supporting actor (Michael Fassbender) and supporting actress (Lupita Nyong’o).


Gravity’s exclusion from the best cast list may be more attributable to it being a two-hander rather than a true measure of the film’s Oscar potential.  Sandra Bullock picked up Gravity’s sole nomination as best actress alongside, Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Judi Dench (Philomena), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County) and Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks).  This list may well correspond exactly with the Oscar nominations.


American Hustle’s nomination for best cast looked a dead cert and it should repeat the success in the Oscars.  The other nominations for August: Osage County, Dallas Buyers Club and The Butler were a surprise with all three films having seemed outsiders in the Oscar stakes.


Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis and Her have all enjoyed some success during the critics awards but missed out in the best cast category.  As did two films, Captain Phillips and The Wolf of Wall Street, that appeared well placed for success during the guild awards.


Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) all received predictable best actor nominations.  Forest Whitaker’s inclusion in this category ahead of Robert Redford (All is Lost) could prove significant in the Oscar nomination race.


The Golden Globes have their say tomorrow.






“12 Years A Slave”
“American Hustle”
“August: Osage County”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”




Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years A Slave”
Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Forest Whitaker, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”




Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”




Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years A Slave”
James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”




Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years A Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Oprah Winfrey, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
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Rachid Bouchareb’s ‘Enemy Way’ is taking shape

December 11th, 2013 - admin

Rachid Bouchareb’s English-language feature, ‘Enemy Way’, starring Forest Whitaker, Harvey Keitel and Ellen Burstyn, should be completed in time for a Cannes’ world premiere next May.  It is set in small town America near to the Mexican border and follows a Muslim going straight after serving a prison term.  Bouchareb’s last picture, ‘Outside The Law’ reached the last five in the race for the best foreign-language Oscar.cialis order online uk buy cialis amsterdam cialis 20 online generic cialis brands
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DC Film Critics have their say

December 11th, 2013 - admin

The awards season is taking on a familiar look with three consecutive critics’ groups awarding ’12 Years a Slave’ with best film and actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor).  Washington DC Film Critics were the latest to have a say and they also honoured the slave trade drama with best supporting actress (Lupita Nyong’o), ensemble and adapted screenplay (John Ridley).


Its most serious Oscar challenger, ‘Gravity’, which is hoping for a push during the guild awards, has started to build some momentum with the critics.  The DC’s honoured the sci-fi adventure with best director, as did New York Online critics, and it follows the film’s earlier joint best picture award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.




Best Film:
“12 Years a Slave”


Best Director:
Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”)


Best Actor:
Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”


Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”)


Best Supporting Actor:
Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”)


Best Supporting Actress:
Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”)


Best Acting Ensemble:
“12 Years a Slave”


Best Youth Performance:
Tye Sheridan (“Mud”)


Best Adapted Screenplay:
John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”)


Best Original Screenplay:
Spike Jonze (“Her”)


Best Animated Feature:


Best Documentary:


Best Foreign Language Film:
“The Broken Circle Breakdown”


Best Art Direction:
Production Designer: Catherine Martin, Set Decorator: Beverley Dunn (“The Great Gatsby”)


Best Cinematography:
Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity”)


Best Editing:
Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger (“Gravity”)


Best Original Score:
Hans Zimmer (“12 Years a Slave”)


The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC:
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
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Gotham Independent Film Awards 2013

December 3rd, 2013 - admin

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December 3rd, 2013 - admin

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Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro could reunite

December 3rd, 2013 - admin

The prospect of Martin Scorsese collaborating with Robert De Niro for the first time in almost twenty years is always guaranteed to raise the excitement levels even though uncertainty surrounds the project that may bring them together.  Scorsese is still making plans for the long-gestating ‘The Irishman’, which would have De Niro playing the real life hitman, Frank Sheeran, who was involved in some of the Mafia’s most infamous killings.  As things stand, the film would follow his next production, ‘Silence’, and Scorsese hopes to persuade Joe Pesci and Al Pacino to come aboard in a mouthwatering prospect.

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‘Hunger Games 2’ on fire internationally

December 2nd, 2013 - admin

‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ dominated international box offices for the second weekend running, grossing an outstanding $90m from 79 territories.  The UK is the action sequels most successful international market where it has already taken an eye-catching $35.1m and France delivered the film’s best weekend launch with a stunning $11.1m.  After factoring in North America, ‘Catching Fire’ has already earned $572.8m worldwide.


Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’ continued its impressive international run on the back of a strong $20.7m second weekend hold in China.  The awards contender added a further $26.5m overall for a new running total of $365.2m.

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‘Catching Fire’ and ‘Frozen’ smash Thanksgiving record

December 2nd, 2013 - admin

Both ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ and ‘Frozen’ have smashed the existing $82m Thanksgiving record of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ as the North American box office enjoyed a bumper session.


After a solid but unremarkable debut, ‘Catching Fire’ generated some serious momentum during the Thanksgiving period, grossing an outstanding $110.2m over the five days.  Its Friday-Sunday $74.5m return was spectacular and ranks as the fourth highest ever second weekend.  The film has already amassed an impressive $296m domestically during its ten days in play.


Disney’s ‘Frozen’ massively exceeded expectations on its debut, boosted by an outstanding ‘A+’ CinemaScore from first night audiences.  The animation adventure earned a superb $93m over the session with 81% of its audience coming from families.


Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’ remake, starring James Brolin, had a disastrous launch and could only muster an appalling $1.2m.


The overall Thanksgiving box office finished on $294m being $3m higher than the corresponding period last year.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

December 2nd, 2013 - admin

Tackling the Uncle Tom theme is always likely to court controversy whether it depicts a cynical act of survival at one pole, a deluded hope for change at the other or a general fear somewhere between these extremes.


Samuel L Jackson’s sadistic housekeeper in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ caused an outcry within the black community for its portrayal of a black man, who would stop at nothing to repress his own people during America’s pre-Civil War slave trade.  It formed part of a blistering attack on the white slaveowners but there was a sense, perhaps, that Tarantino was fighting somebody else’s war on his own terms.


Lee Daniels addresses a different kind of suppression in his third feature – technically known as ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ following the high profile legal wrangling over the film’s title – and returns us to the factious post war period with the civil rights movement fighting the latest manifestation of Southern fascism – segregation – and its ugly aftermath.  We see both peaceful and violent protesters – a distinction that the police fail to recognise – from the perspective of the title character, who adopts a third way, one that unwittingly embraces some Uncle Tom characteristics albeit with the best intentions.  This is dangerous territory for Daniels where any ambiguity as to what’s what would the run the risk of pissing off the black community far more than Tarantino.


Daniels very loosely based the film on Eugene Allen, a black butler who spent an extraordinary 34 years serving eight presidents at the White House.  It could have provided a bird’s eye view of the inside track from the outside – an intriguing sideways look at the period – but Daniels was more concerned with a wider sweep, which strangely reduces the presidents to caricatures with a grotesque Lyndon Baines Johnson holding court on the loo (whilst his attendants do their utmost to look the other way) and John Cusack lending Richard Nixon the same deranged air as his swamp man, Van Wetter, in Daniels’s last feature, ‘The Paperboy’.


In the fictionalised version, the butler has a different name, Cecil Gaines; a new backstory where a psycho white cotton farmer rapes his mother and shoots his father dead at point blank range but remains beyond the law in a throwback to the slave trade in a very familiar sort of way; and a changed private life with a discontented wife bemoaning her husband’s absence at work – think, the proverbial cop’s other half – and a radicalised son, who rejects the Black Panthers’ violence and, somewhat incredulously, becomes part of Martin Luther King’s inner circle.


It sets up a potentially tired binary opposite between an ‘old school’ family patriarch and his subversive son, but Daniels does, to a certain extent, mitigate against the contrived plotting and defy our expectations.  Somewhere between Gaines’ self-defeating faith in achieving change through reliable subservience – one that requires him to become as invisible as possible, the ultimate non-person – and an extraordinary dignity when faced with careless provocation as a matter of routine – a subtle but very evident defiance emerges that the fictional MLK recognises.  Presumably, when this MLK declares that the “black domestic defies racial stereotypes by being hardworking and trustworthy”, he is expressing Daniels’ view.  Not everybody will feel comfortable with this slant but the film does make a point very effectively that, at ground level, things are not always quite what they first seem and there can be an enormous gap between facing reality and political slogans.


This is a better film than it sounds; aided by a decent script and superb nuanced performances from Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey as Gaines and his wife.

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‘Song From The Forest’ wins in Amsterdam

December 1st, 2013 - admin

Michael Obert’s debut feature, ‘Song From The Forest’ has won the coveted best documentary award at the 26th edition of the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam.  Covering globalisation themes from an unusual angle, it follows, Louis Sarno, an American who returns to his homeland with his teenage son after spending 25 years living with a hunting tribe in Africa’s rainforest.  Obert, best known as an author and journalist, won last year’s German Reporter Prize.


‘A Letter to Nelson Mandela’, the latest film from experienced documentarian, Khalo Matabane, picked up the Special Jury Award.  It’s a revisionist look at the practical reality lying behind freedom and reconciliation in South Africa’s post-apartheid era.  Henry Kissinger, the Dalai Lama and Ariel Dorfman are amongst the many distinguished contributors.




IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary


WINNER: Song from the Forest by Michael Obert (Germany)



IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary


WINNER: Pussy Versus Putin by Gogol’s Wives Productions, Anonymous Anonymous (Russia)



IDFA Special Jury Award


WINNER: A Letter to Nelson Mandela by Khalo Matabane (South Africa)



IDFA Competition for First Appearance


WINNER: My Name Is Salt by Farida Pacha (Switzerland / India)



Peter Wintonick Special Jury Award for First Appearance


WINNER: Forest of the Dancing Spirits by Linda Västrik



IDFA Audience Award


WINNER: Twin Sisters by Mona Friis Bertheussen (Norway)



IDFA Melkweg Music Documentary Audience Award


WINNER: Twenty Feet from Stardom (USA)



IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling


WINNER: I Love Your Work (USA) by Jonathan Harris

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‘Hunger Games 2’ breaks record at the North American box office

December 1st, 2013 - admin

‘Hunger Games:  Catching Fire’ will smash the Thanksgiving five-day weekend record after grossing a further $31.2m on Friday.  The action sequel, which has now amassed an impressive $253m domestically since last weekend’s opening, is on pace to finish the session approximately $30m higher than the existing $82.4m record of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’.


Disney’s ‘Frozen’ enjoyed a $26.8m Friday to continue its strong run since Wednesday’s launch.  Propelled by a powerful word of mouth following an ‘A+’ CinemaScore from first night audiences , it is set to massively over-perform with a whopping $90m+ over the five days.