MCN Originals

The Weekend Report

Muscular Kung Fu Panda 3 flexed its pecs for a second weekend at the top of the charts with an estimated $21.2 million. The session featured a trio of national bows, with openings that ranged from good to … Slotting second was Hollywood spoof Hail, Caesar! with an $11.4 million back office. The three-hanky The Choice grossed $6.1 million while Pride + Prejudice + Zombies got skewered with $5.2 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

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The DVD Wrapup: Bridge of Spies, Truth, Snow White, Breathe and more

There’s always a point in a Steven Spielberg movie where I want to pull out my cellphone – or hit the pause button on my remote – to check the validity of what’s just happened on the screen. Likewise, there are times in every performance by Tom Hanks when he appears to be channeling Henry Fonda or Jimmy Stewart, instead of remaining within the skin of his character. It doesn’t take me out of the picture for very long, just enough to remind me that the operative word in “based on a true story” is “based,” not “true.” Most fact-based movies made in Hollywood require a suspension of disbelief for the sake of telling a story. It comes with the price of a ticket. If any collaborative team is allowed more latitude than Spielberg and Hanks, however, I’d be hard-pressed to name it.

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Gurus o’ Gold: 9 Days Until Voting Begins

The Gurus storm into February looking at the “Top 8″ categories, plus Feature Documentary and Cinematography. Appropriate to this still-unsettled season, The Gurus currently foresee 7 different movies winning those Top 8 prizes, with only the Best Picture leader grabbing 2 of these 8.

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Excluding Voters: A Closer Look At One New Oscar Rule (#1 of ?)

I got my hands on a copy of the 2015 membership list of the Academy Writers Branch. So I started to crunch numbers, member by member, credit by credit.

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The Weekend Report

Po was on the go as Kung Fu Panda 3 led session moviegoing with an estimated $40.6 million debut. Three other national openers struggled to get a marketplace hold. The true life heroism of The Finest Hours slotted fourth with $10.2 million while spoofy Fifty Shades of Black entered the scene with $5.9 million. Belated, entangled western Jane Got a Gun barely registered with $790,000.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Easily the softest launch for a Kung Fu Panda movie… but also the first non-summer release in the series and the first encumbered by a lot of TV/streaming programming around the characters. Po will not save DWA… nor will he sink it. (And $600m overseas – which is possible – could make it a big round hit, regardless of the U.S.) The Finest Hours is the second reminder (after 13 Hours) that the January Warrior niche is not a lock at the box office. That audience is there, waiting… but like the faith audience, you need to hit them just right. And no one was much interested in Fifty Shades of Black… a parody of a parody. This is the softest open for a Wayans (any Wayans) movie in a long time.

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The DVD Wrapup: Burnt, Assassin, New Girlfriend, Patels, Mr. Robot and more

As mouth-watering as Burnt is, I would discourage anyone from assuming that all foodie movies taste the same. The cranky-perfectionist conceit works better in Daniel Cohen’s Le Chef, Jon Favreau’s Chef, Lasse Hallström’s The Hundred-Foot Journey, Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci’s Big Night and Brittany Murphy’s largely undiscovered gem, The Ramen Girl. Also tempting are Mostly Martha and its Hollywood remake No Reservations, Woman on Top. Tampopo, Ratatouille, Julie and Julia and, of course, Babette’s Feast and Like Water for Chocolate.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Race & Race – Part 3: All Fixed

This has been an unpleasant week. And yet, there should be unrestrained celebration amongst all Academy members and all believers in efforts to seek greater (and ultimately achieve) racial and gender diversity in all film industry organizations, including The Academy.

So what is the problem?

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The Weekend Report

Crippling snow knocked out large parts of the nation’s Northeast Saturday, allowing The Revenant to dredge into first place with an estimated $16.8 million. The session featured three new national releases with Dirty Grandpa the marginal leader in fourth position with $11.6 million. Right behind were chiller The Boy with $11 million and the post-apocalyptic The 5th Wave grossing $10.4 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Blizzards and travel bans along the East coast may well be responsible for 20% – 30% lower overall box office this weekend. But there is no mistaking the weak weekend for what it is. Under the circumstances, The Revenant is holding well. Dirty Grandpa could have managed $15m or more, though the question now is whether audiences like the thing (critics don’t). STX would have had its biggest opening with The Boy… but now has to wonder whether they can postpone the launch in the snowed-in areas next weekend and make it up.

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Gurus o’ Gold: The Week After Nominations

Things seem to be firming up in the top 8 categories. The Gurus offer their Top 2 in each of the categories, except for Picture. (Also worth noting – voting was done before nominee Rampling made her statements about race and Oscar.)

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Race & Race – Part 2: Four Suggestions To “Fix” The Academy

This is where we are… the third season in the last six without a “black” film or black actor nominated. That was background… here is the foreground. Three small but perhaps important suggestions about how to “fix” the problem at The Academy. And then one last suggestion that I think may actually be the most actionable and helpful of the lot.

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The DVD Wrapup: Straight Outta Compton, Diary of a Teenage Girl, Howl, I Am Thor and more

As difficult as it might be for fans of Straight Outta Compton to believe that it was nearly shut out of Oscar competition, it’s just that hard for me be to believe that enough voters in any category actually watched enough of the movie to endorse it. Unlike The Help and 12 Years a Slave, the story behind the rise and fall of the genre-shattering hip-hop group, N.W.A., had several things working against it from the get-go. Not all of them can be attributed to racial insensitivity and the lack of diversity in the academy, although they can’t be discounted out of hand. For example, I can’t imagine any voter over, say, 40, rewarding a movie whose acoustics required them to keep a tight grip on the remote control every time the explosive musical soundtrack kicked in on their state-of-the-art Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo or DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 system.

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20 Weeks To Oscar: The Race & Race – Part 1: Expectations

This is the first of a series examining the issue of Race and The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. It follows a Gurus o’ Gold special edition that charted the history of the Gurus voting for Best Picture over the course of the season.

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The Weekend Report

The debut of Ride Along 2 shifted into top gear and was ahead of the pack with an estimated $34 million (all figures reflect 3-day portion of weekend). Two other films bowed nationally for the Martin Luther King holiday frame. The torn-from- headlines 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi slotted fourth with $15.7 million while the low-budget animated Norm of the North opened to $6.6 million. Exclusive bows were largely dull, save for The Lady in the Van, which parked $68,400 in four driveways

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Friday Box Office Estimates

The Revenant sticks the landing, as it builds on its strong opening with an excellent hold, guided by its Oscar nomination success. The Big Short is the only other Best Picture nominee in the Top 10, looking to hit $50 million by the end of the weekend. Meanwhile, Ride Along 2 returns to about 16% less than the original did twp years ago in the same slot. Michael Bay’s Benghazi testosterone ride opens pretty well, though not quite as explosively as some thought it might, running at about half the speed of Lone Survivor, which set the standard (after 2002’s Black Hawk Down). Barely on the radar, Norm of the North.

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Gurus o’ Gold Special: The Trajectory Of The Season

With all the controversy around the Oscar voting, we thought we would take a look at how we got to nominations Thursday. The chart shows where the contenders were, in the minds of The Gurus, in the 10 weeks of voting, from August’s pre-festival vote until the week that voting closed. We hope it is enlightening.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Nomination Day (part 1 of 2)

The Gurus (well, most of us) are back with our insta-take on where the Oscar nominees will fall. If The Gurus are right, it looks like The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road will be battling it out for the most wins, while another film wins the big prize.

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Gurus o’ Gold: Nomination Day (part 2 of 2)

back to part 1

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“There are critics who see their job as to be on the side of the artist, or in a state of imaginative sympathy or alliance with the artist. I think it’s important for a critic to be populist in the sense that we’re on the side of the public. I think one of the reasons is, frankly, capitalism. Whether you’re talking about restaurants or you’re talking about movies, you’re talking about large-scale commercial enterprises that are trying to sell themselves and market themselves and publicize themselves. A critic is, in a way, offering consumer advice. I think it’s very, very important in a time where everything is commercialized, commodified, and branded, where advertising is constantly bleeding into other forms of discourse, for there to be an independent voice kind of speaking to—and to some extent on behalf of—the public.”
~ A. O. Scott On One Role Of The Critic

“Every night, we’d sit and talk for a long, long time and talk about the process and I knew he was very, very intrigued about what could be happening. Then of course, one of the fascinating things he told me about was how he had readers who were reading for him that never knew it was Stanley Kubrick. So if he heard of a novel, he would send it out to people. I think he did it through newspaper ads at the time. And he would send it out to people and ask for a kind of synopsis or a critique of the novel. And he would read those. And it was done anonymously. But he said there were housewives and there were barristers and all sorts of people doing that. And I thought, yeah, that’s a really good way to open up the possibilities. Because otherwise, you’re randomly looking, walking through a bookstore or an airport. I said, “How many people are doing this?” It was about 30 people.”
~ George Miller’s Conversations With Kubrick