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Sunday
Jan132013

Multiple Zeroes. Dark Thirty

With a post Oscar nominations wide expansion into movie theaters Zero Dark Thirty won a strong $24 million opening weekend. $24 million is chump change for superheroes and cartoons but it's a big deal for contemporary dramas without bankable stars. Put it another way: that's well over what The Hurt Locker earned in its entire theatrical run here in the States. The torture controversy may have soiled ZDT's Oscar winning prospects somewhat (including that surprise snub for Bigelow) but it hasn't hurt it at the box office.

The Top Five This Weekend

Chart repurposed / visually adjusted from Box Office Mojo

Gangster Squad grossed less than the cheapo laughs of A Haunted House once again confirming that the earth is doomed and also that filling your movie with stars doesn't necessarily help (which also means the earth is doomed... at least for those of us who like our movies with movie stars in them.) That said it took Brad Pitt a long time to be considered "bankable" and Ryan Gosling is inching ever upwards. This is his second best opening (after Crazy Stupid Love, which was also jam-packed with fellow stars) though he has yet to star in a $100 + million hit.

Meanwhile Django and Les Miz continue to prove that their hit status is bonafide. With only three weeks in theaters both are well over $100 million and are on their way to very healthy profits, with or without Oscar statuettes.

Fantine may be impoverished and unemployable but Anne Hathaway now has her SEVENTH $100+ million hit.

I've noticed that that really tired annual meme that Oscar hates blockbusters and that general audiences don't like "Oscar-Bait" movies has died this year thank God! That death rattle lasted forever. Your Best Picture lineup this year is more proof that that's only ever been partially true at best and is often misleading. The average gross from this year's crop is $76 million and it's going up every week. Among the nine only (arguably) Silver Linings Playbook has underperformed given it's box office friendly stars / genre but that's only because they opted to pretend it was a tough arthouse sit with that crawling release pattern. Even after the Oscar nominations its still in less than 900 theaters. 

Do you support Oscars economy each year by seeing the nominees in the theaters?
 

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Reader Comments (30)

Wow, Les Mis has cleaned up despite all the close-ups and Cockney teeth! ;) I bet Silver Linings will do very well as it expands, but I'm most interested in seeing how Amour does. I doubt if it'll get more than a small release pattern, but it'll be interesting to compare it to other foreign films. It definitely won't be another Crouching Tiger or Life Is Beautiful or Il Postino. It may be the purest example of how much money Oscar nominations can make for a movie.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOwen Walter

It's been a good time for adult-themed films at the box office.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Harvey didn't want to open Silver Linings against Zero Dark Thirty. With Oscar nominations AND presumed Golden Globe wins he bought for the film (sarcasm, although I wouldn't be surprised even if I think it deserves them) it'll be much better counter programming next weekend.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterA.J

Anne Hathaway's SEVENTH 100+ hit?
I cannot figure out the seventh one.
Dark Knight Rises
The Devil Wears Prada
Princess Diaries
Alice in Wonderland (Do they include that totally bogus even-if-you-have-a-pair-mandatory $3-5 charge for 3-D glasses? And I personally would like my $14 back from this film.)
Valentines Day (Ugh. Why America? Why? So Bad.)

And...?

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJT

JT, the one you didn't mention is Get Smart. You could also count Rio as her 8th, technically.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

JT: Get Smart, if you can believe it.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Oh! Found it.
Get Smart.
Which is another mediocre-at-best-wait-until-video movie.
It makes me sad Brokeback Mountain isn't on this list.

Still shocked Gosling hasn't had a 100+!

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJT

I was surprised to learn that The Notebook didn't gross over $100 million—unless you include foreign box office, in which case it did. (Same for Crazy, Stupid, Love.)

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

To answer your question, I do try to see as many of the films which get major nominations in theatres. However, for the past year or two, I've felt that, if a particular film just doesn't appeal to me, I don't feel obliged to see it just because it got a major nomination. Last year, for example, I didn't see "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," and I don't feel deprived. (I did, however, regret seeing the film which I personally called "Extremely Long and Incredibly Kitschy," which most people insisted on calling "War Horse.")

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

To your question, no, I don't force myself to see all the contenders in theaters or any other place. But I'm no critic, blogger or film student. I don't know how you guys can sit through some stuff out there...

Anyway, I'm surprised to say the least by the lack of reaction, or rather outraged reaction, to Bigelow's snub. If you compare it to the internet uproar when Nolan wasn't nominated for TDK, this "silence" is meaningful. Yes, Nolan has a much bigger fanbase, but still. Is the audience in general as sexist as the directors branch? We're talking abut the first woman to win an Oscar for best direction, and a movie which is in everyone's top ten list and that has been winning critic prizes all the way long.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

I do watch the Oscar films in theaters if possible. I missed The Master and I'm waiting on the first expansion of Amour (it'll hit my big multiplex next since a bunch of Academy members live in that suburb of NYC). Otherwise, I saw all the screenplay, picture, and acting nominees in theaters.

I hated The Impossible, by the way. I've fought for years against the term "torture porn" because there aren't any super violent horror films that are meant to make you feel good. That terrible film had to actually be a film filled with over the top violence and human suffering that is supposed to make you feel good in the end. So now the only way I feel right approaching my own review is through that lens. What else do you call it when you watch humans be ripped apart and cough up blood for 90 minutes before it's all tied together with a shiny hopeful bow?

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Iggy - I think the muted reaction to Bigelow's no-nom has something to do with the larger discussion/controversy of ZD30. Dark Knight was fluff for the masses that people ate up by the gallon; very little divisive about it and it had been out for months and months.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Mike & Euro -- yes, i was purposely not counting RIO. I don't think voice work should be counted for an actor's box office stats because they had so little to do with whether or not people show up in theaters.

Gosling HAS appeared in a 100+ hit but he wasn't a headliner at all (Remember the Titans)

January 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Brian Z & Iggy -- i also think the fact that she already has an Oscar has something to do with the muted anger. People tend to get far more worked up about "snubs" for people who are still waiting for their Oscar moment.

January 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Iggy - Actually, I've seen pieces in more than a couple of sites about it, including the one Nat linked in one of his previous posts today, which was very good. I just think that unless you very well-thought arguments pro-Bigelow, putting it out there that you think she was snubbed will attract the torture controversy to you, and maybe not everybody wants to argue ad nauseum about the subject, which is sticky.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterthais

Robert G.: So basically, The Impossible is kind of like 2012, just with less obvious stupidity.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Robert G - You thought the end of the movie was hopeful? To me it was incredibly sour. The moment Naomi looks out the window was a huge slap in the face.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterthais

I used to see all the Best Picture nominees back when there were only five, but ever since the category expansion, I only go out of my way to see the ones that actually have a shot at winning something. Unless, of course, I'm interested in the film outside of its Oscar potential, in which case I'll obviously see it anyway.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

thais, it's not the cheeriest ending in the world, but it's an "Everything is going to be ok. Really. We promise" kind of ending. If the film actually focused on anyone outside of the family, the final shot would have worked. A scene here and there with other (white) people isn't really enough to sell that.

Let me put it another way. I watch a lot of horror films. It's my favorite genre. Never in my life have I wanted to walk out a theater more than during The Impossible because the gore was just too much. A lot of people in my screening did walk out before the waves stopped coming it. I heard screams, cries, and people shouting back at the screen. Someone booed when the closing credits started and I heard a few conversations from people saying it was all too much.

If the goal was to showcase the devastation of the tsunami or how people can band together after a tragedy, that's one thing. The focus of this story was one family bleeding, hurting themselves more, and crying while they tried to find each other. The slap a bow on it ending only focused on that family. If you bought into the family's plight, you were manipulated into a strong emotional reaction that was completely at odds with some grander message about natural disasters or human suffering. It was an extremely manipulative, cynical film with a whole lot of gratuitous violence. And yes, I do think the ending was supposed to give you a strong sense of relief and maybe even a flicker of hope that everything and everyone would be ok.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

I see almost all the major nominees in the theaters. Last year I skipped War Horse because I have a low tolerance for Spielberg and it looked like it hit all of his major indulgences. I'll see all the Best Picture and Best Actress nominees this year (I only need to see ZDT and the Impossible yet), but I missed Flight and I don't think it's the type of thing that appeals to me, judging from the trailer.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I usually see all the Oscar noms in the theater if I can. This year I haven't seen yet Amour because it hasn't opened here. Jut saw ZDT last night and I really think it's the best film of the year ( from what I've seen of course ). Second one would be Rust and Bone and Barbara (which I've seen on a German blu-ray that had English subtitles. Thank God for Amazon ).
Luckily I see a lot of films at Sundance every year so I'm a bit ahead with some of the small indies. This year I won't go so hopefully distributors will take a cue from the good Box Office of the nominated movies this year and will release them in a time frame that would keep everybody in the conversation. I still don't get all the controversy about ZDT, the film doesn't take any sides, really. It's all so stupid but it might actually help the film cash-in.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradelutza

Flight's not a good movie, but, if you're a Denzel fan, its essential viewing.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I saw ZD30 last night. It blew my mind. To me, it's at least as good as United93 (interesting name pattern similarities), though I typically eat these kind of journalistic films right up.

But still, it is masterfully constructed and executed. Argo feels so minor league comparing to ZD30, at least in the thrill department. If I have a ballot, I would have given it at least 4 more nominations: director (win), score, sound mixing, and supporting actor for Clark.

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRic

I also red boxed Beasts a couple of days ago. Liked a lot. It reminds me quite a bit of my all time favorite: Spirited Away. The strong little girl, imaginative development, and the involvement of pigs...

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRic

I always try to see... well, everything. Which is always challenging at the end of the year, and has been especially challenging this year. Not just because there are so many movies to see, but because release patterns are so wonky, and its hard to prioritize and choose when to see things so that you actually get to see everything before it disappears. Like I was going to see Rust & Bone last week, but ended up seeing Not Fade Away, after it flopped in its expansion, knowing that it would (and ultimately did) leave theaters before the weekend. Similarly, I tried to get into NYC last Thursday to see On the Road once I realized that it was losing both its NYC theaters, but got held up at work and couldn't make it. So that's a big ol' miss now. I've still got five or six holiday 2012 releases to try to catch up with, and it's exhausting!!!

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I do try to watch all the best picture nominees- stupid comedies always make money at least opening week ( and gee couldn't they at least come up with a more clever tittle?!)

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I heard the Gangster Squad is funnier than A Haunted House. I can't wait to see it.

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbbats

I do always try to see all major category Oscar nominees in theaters, especially Best Pictures. The only one I've missed in the years since the expansion is An Education (and District 9, which I ended up seeing before the ceremony, but on DVD). When there were only 5, the AMC theaters Best Picture Showcase was a godsend and usually a lot of fun even if I had already seen all/most of the films already, but since the expansion it's been hell.

I'm thrilled for Zero Dark Thirty's box office - I had a sneaking suspicion that it would do well despite being a nearly three-hour long procedural, which would normally turn people off. During the holidays, it was the film people brought up most about wanting to see. I'm VERY curious to see how Amour does when it expands.

That said, this weekend I had a choice of seeing ZDT or Gangster Squad (I honestly don't care about the quality of this one, I'm going for the period porn sets and costumes and Ryan Gosling in those suits) or The Sessions and chose Rust And Bone instead, which is up for ZERO Oscars. I loved it. Marion Cotillard really was great, though I'm not sure if she'd make my Best Actress 5. I'm shocked that Mathias Schoenarts didn't get more buzz for this. He was probably even better than she was, and the film is more about him than her, which surprised me. I wish this had been France's submission instead of the blandly "uplifting" The Intouchables.

Oh, and I LOVED The Impossible. Didn't really buy the ending, but I thought it was pretty amazing. I could feel every bit of physical pain those characters felt, which made me cringe, but it was effective. Felt a bit like 127 Hours, but with a larger scope. Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Holland would probably all make my acting ballots.

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

So incredibly heartening to see that Zero Dark Thirty did so well over the weekend, to be completely honest. I saw it early Sunday afternoon (all the nearby showings were completely sold out) and everyone in my screening was 100% engaged for the entire run of the film, from my perspective. By the end, you could hear all the positive buzz leave the theatre with the audience on their way out -- people seemed to be totally satisfied and in good spirits about the quality of the film.

Personally, I was blown away. Those last few moments with Chastain knocked me out.

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

I try to see all the major nominees, but like Bill_the_Bear, I'll skip one if it just completely does not appeal to me, so last year I skipped War Horse (the play was fantastic, but only because of the way it was staged, not because of the story or characters, so there was no need to see the long, schmalty movie) and EL&IC. This year I'll see everything thought as it's a pretty great line-up. Normally I'd skip The Impossible but I'll go see it now that she's up for Best Actress.

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

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