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Box Office: The Right Country For Old Men

It's Amir here, bringing you the latest box office report. Here's a pop quiz for you dear readers: when was the last time that the top film in both wide and limited releases revolved around an old man on a journey to overcome ridiculously difficult obstacles? By my estimation, it was never. On the face of it, saving one's life from the clutches of the sea and saving one's testicles from a vending machine may seem entirely different but both struggles appealed to their audience this weekend nonetheless. Bad Grandpa coasted on the Jackass brand to dethrone Gravity from the top spot, though if we were thinking Alfonso Cuaron's film is going away, we were proven wrong emphatically.

01 BAD GRANDPA $32 *new* 
02 GRAVITY $20.3 (cum. $199.8) Sandy B & Review
03 CAPTAIN PHILLIPS $11.8 (cum. $70) Podcast & Hanks For All Ages
04 THE COUNSELOR $8 *new*  Podcast 
05 CLOUDY WITH CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 $6.1 (cum. $100.6)
06 CARRIE $5.9  (cum. $26)
07 ESCAPE PLAN $4.3 (cum. $17.4)
08 12 YEARS A SLAVE $2.1 (cum. $3.4) Slavery in Cinema & Podcast
09 ENOUGH SAID $1.5 (cum. $13) Podcast
10 PRISONERS $1 (cum. $59.1) Podcast & Review

Gravity has now earned twice its production budget, is in the top ten grossers of the year, and with $250m well within reach, should remain there when all is said and done. Fellow Oscar hopeful Captain Phillips is also enjoying high times as it keeps trailing Gravity. The Tom Hanks vehicle is following the footsteps of similar prestige October releases that were gunning for the awards season in previous years - the likes of Argo, Ides of March and to a lesser extent The Social Network - and is doing better than all of them at this point in their runs. That's gotta count for something with the voters. And while we're on the topic of awards, let's have a round of applause for 12 Years a Slave. Steve McQueen's film entered the top ten and also had the highest per screen average of any film this weekend, with the exception of one French lesbian epic.

The elephant in the room, and the most interesting question of the weekend, is The Counselor. For several reasons - "stars" that aren't really stars in box office terms, a weak marketing campaign, terrible reviews, etc. - expectations were low for this crime thriller. Unfortunately for 20th Century Fox, the numbers did not exceed those projections, which brings up the question: has Ridley Scott finally lost his mojo completely? Depending on how you define critical and box office success, it can be argued that only two of his films have managed to perform well in both regards this side of the century: Gladiator and American Gangster. In incredibly simplified terms, let's assume that a director's box office cache can be gauged by how excited his name can get the public at large. Does anyone really get excited for another Scott film anymore? I certainly hope there's another Alien in him, but the signs are becoming fewer with each film.

01 ALL IS LOST $.5 *new* (cum. $.6) Podcast & Review
02 WADJDA $.1 (cum. $.9) Foreign Film Oscar Predictions
03 BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR $.1 *new* controversies
04 INEQUALITY FOR ALL $.08 (cum. $.9)

Finally, at the specialty box office, Blue Is the Warmest Color managed a respectable $100k on only four screens. With all the controversies surrounding the film's production and given the fact that those four screens are located in cities where audiences care about such things as Palme d'Ors, I have to say I was expecting better, but it was always going to be an uphill climb. My beloved Wadjda - it's one of the best films of the year; go see it! - is slowly reaching the million dollar threshold. Meanwhile, Metallica Through the Never, a film that a grand total of three people have ever talked about has inexplicably grossed more than $3.4m. Metallica are still a thing apparently. Good for them! Rock on! Have you seen their film? What did you see this weekend?

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Reader Comments (34)

I saw "Don Jon" & I don't understand WHY there is no Oscar talk about Julianne Moore...Come ON!

October 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterstjeans

"I have to say I was expecting better, but it was always going to be an uphill climb."

Umm...$101,000 for a long French drama is pretty darn fantastic actually.

October 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

Squasher88- Sure it is. But given all the controversy and acclaim so far, 25k per screen isn't spectacular; that's all I'm saying.

October 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Partook in some Halloween festivities this weekend instead of seeing new films, but part of that was re-watching ATTACK THE BLOCK and CABIN IN THE WOODS. Good times.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I watched Michael Shannon in "The Iceman." He was good but the surprise for me was Chris Evans. Who knew? And James Franco? What was that all about? It was entertaining, that's for sure.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

I saw a Carrie/Counselor double feature.

Carrie was really glossy and vapid and I thought the casting was crazy off and a bit of a betrayal to the poor, uncool, frumpy thing Carrie is supposed to be.

The Counselor had a few cool/arresting sequences but the dialogue was, kindly, overcooked. And the actors were giving it a good shot but whatever was coming out of their mouths was totally bonkers.

Gotta catch Wadjda before it runs away!

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

Amir, at three hours Blue can only screen so many times a day. Which is why distributors and exhibitors prefer movies that run between ninety minutes and two hours.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I watched Hannah Takes the Stairs because I am a Greta Gerwig completist and am somewhat fascinated by mumblecore. It was not a bad movie like Puffy Chair but I've yet to find a movie in that 'movement/moment' that I find to indisputably great cinema.

Also watched Europa Report. It was a giant bowl of MEH. I think the pretense was a non-starter for me. Killed the tension.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

The Metallica film is better than I had expected, but it has its flaws. Basically it's a 90 minute music video which mixes concert footage with, let's call it 'music video fiction'. The concert footage looks quite fake in the beginning and ends up as fiction too.

The choice of songs is weak in some places; especially "Nothing Else Matters" doesn't fit in the narrative (so there is no narrative at that song). Other moments, especially Battery, work fantastically. It certainly is a lot better than those 'concert films' that are mostly banter interspersed with some half-songs. For this year I'm specifically looking at the One Direction movie, as fun as it is.

Lars Ulrich looks like the irritating sexist uncle at family gatherings and James Hetfield has a black handkerchief hanging out of his back pocket. I must admit I couldn't resist looking up what it means in handkerchief code.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick

The Counseller has DIAZ a proper star.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

I'm not wavering from prediction of Gravity getting Best Pic and Cuaron getting director. I think he will schmooze better than McQueen.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

An advance screening of About Time. Absolutely delightful! Richard Curtis still has it.

The numbers for Bad Grandpa makes me sick. Perhaps my sense of humor just doesn't extend to those places, but I am seriously worried about the public's taste in "art".

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I've been getting caught up on movies new and old:

- Mud: while fine, it's such a letdown after Take Shelter (one my faves of its year) that I couldn't help but be disappointed. McConaughey was good in a tough part (he had to be potentially dangerous but not overtly so, so you understood both kids' reactions), but the movie never decided who's story it was telling, it was too long, the editing was sloppy and the women were insultingly underdeveloped. Why did Reese Witherspoon even take that part?

- Captain Philips - somehow both suspenseful and too long, but now I know why everyone points out those last 20 minutes with comments like "How did Tom Hanks DO that?" Stunning, stunning work. I'm dying to hear a DVD commentary or interview where he explains how he prepared himself for that final scene.

- 12 Years a Slave - SPOILERS: so moving, so many great elements, and yet also so many flaws: intrusive score, indulgent editing (seriously, how many long shots of Northup staring off into space do we need?), barely getting to know any other black characters besides Northup (which I debate internally as being either flaw in the script or a symptom of slavery that the slaves were never allowed develop as individual human beings), that strange final scene where Northup doesn't even get a moment directly with his wife...and yet, I still found it so moving.

- Othello - had to watch it for a project. It's not exactly a Halloween movie, but I can't think of anything scarier than watching Laurence Olivier in blackface for 3 hours. I've never seen him in a movie before and if you get past the blatant awfulness of his casting, the man is a truly fascinating actor to watch. That voice - so deep and resonant! Those mannerisms - so open and flamboyant! Those fleeting, funny looks into the camera! Plus it gives you Maggie Smith as Desdemona AND is one of the few films to successfully try filming what's essentially a staged performance.

- Rosemary's Baby - because duh.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Saw Enough Said this weekend, which I thought was quite lovely. The theater was surprisingly full, too.

I could not be happier that Gravity is performing so well. I would even hazard a guess that it could be back in the top spot next week. Stranger things have happened.

I have to admit, though: While I absolutely will not see it in theaters, I laugh at all those Bad Grandpa TV commercials. And I kind of hate myself for that.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

This weekend was a total bust movie-wise. I'd hoped to check out The Counselor and maybe sneak into the city for Blue is the Warmest Color (the glowing reactions from an earlier thread persuaded me I should put my reservations aside). Instead, all I watched was HALF of On the Road, from the comfort of my home.

I blame baseball. Go Sox? (wow, does that feel out of place on this blog - ha!)

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I saw Blue is the Warmest Color and loved it. Can't wait to hear TFE's opinions on it.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Bia -- he will definitely schmooze better, true.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

mark - No she isn't. I was measuring star power purely in box office terms as mentioned. Diaz has only found success in films that would have performed well without her anyway, e.g. Shrek, Charlie's Angels, The Mask, etc. I can only think of two film that benefited from her presence financially.

DJDeeJay - But that close-up scene where he stares in the offscreen space after his final conversation with Brad Pitt is the best scene of the film. Maybe even the best scene of the year. The simplicity and poignancy of that sustained shot is astounding.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Amir - I mean this in the most genuine, curious way possible, but could you elaborate, please? Clearly the poignancy was lost on me. I felt like that shot could have been inserted anywhere in the film (and wondered if they did indeed film and only then choose later where to put it).

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I saw "12 Years a Slave" and I found it to be devastatingly powerful. Steve McQueen's detached yet observant style works to make what we see even more effective. It stirred strange, troubling reactions from me. At one point I was shaking my head when it seemed that Solomon was going to attempt to run away. What makes the film so powerful is that it's no mere historical document. The filmmakers know that the forces that allowed slavery to endure for far too long in this country are still present today.

I also rewatched "Gravity" in 2D, and my reaction remains unchanged. It's a gripping adventure, but I still was not terribly moved by Sandra Bullock's plight. It seemed shallow. It's entertaining and a technical marvel, but it has a mechanical heart.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Yeah-Diaz is most definitely a STAR!, but she's not necessarily Box Office insurance like Bullock or Will Smith. There's Something About Mary, Bad Teacher, and arguably What Happens in Vegas are the only three films that coasted largely on her star quality and still became a hit, and the rest were all more the result of being part of a franchise or she wasn't the star drawing in the tickets.

I caught up on a bunch of Netflix films this weekend:

Before Midnight-Loved, loved, loved it, though it didn't hit me quite in the same way that Sunset did (maybe because I'm closer in age to Celine and Jesse in the 2004 film than 2013).

The Milk of Sorrow-Not at all what I was expecting, and while very beautiful, it doesn't really go anywhere.

Coco Avant Chanel-Didn't care for this at all. This was somehow my first Audrey Taotou film, and I'm hoping I get more impressed as I go along.

Zodiac-I've seen this many times before, but it seemed a solid Halloween title. It's amazing how breathtaking Harris Savides makes all of his movies (how did he never get nom'd for an Oscar?!?) and how strong every actor is in the film.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

"Clearly the poignancy was lost on me. I felt like that shot could have been inserted anywhere in the film (and wondered if they did indeed film and only then choose later where to put it)."

It's context in being there is that it is one of the first times he feels truly honest about himself in really telling his situation to a trusting person. Sure, the Armsby conversation happened beforehand but the film quickly pulled that hope away.

I really thought the flourishes of the long takes and wide-shots made the movie what it is. Aside from that moment I did not really remember too many close-ups that were striving for a Falconetti-like moment. And honestly, the cinematography was so fluid that I barely recall any real apparent editing going on with exception to the use of sound effects undercutting those scripture scenes which I thought was actually pretty marvelous. The score was the only thing I would really complain about. Zimmer has no new ideas for how to score a movie and is just a mismatch for a McQueen/Bobbitt movie. I wish McQueen had just had the score done by people who have previously worked with him. Somebody told Zimmer this was a movie by Christopher Nolan.

Also disagree about the other black characters. Patsey and Eliza most definitely represented the slave narratives of many slave women of the period with Alfre Woodard being something of an anomaly. Maybe look at another enslaved man would have made for an interesting inspection but I thought the movie was in keeping with the source material but that flashback moment of him seeing and an enslaved man when he was still free spoke volumes. Solomon wanted to be detached and isolated from this world because he knew he was not of his setting so that we looked at these characters through his eyes made lots of sense to me.

I guess I see most of your flaws as strengths.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Amir: There are three times where you could actually, substantially, say her name sold tickets as opposed to nostalgia or other stars. 1. There's Something About Mary. ($369 million gross on $23 million budget. Studio earnings: $161.5 million.) 2. What Happens in Vegas. (because you know it wasn't Ashton freaking Kutcher selling anything) ($219 million on $35 million budget. Studio earnings: $74.5 million.) 3. Bad Teacher. ($216 million on $20 million budget. Studio earnings: $88 million.) If Diaz were actually consistently bankable the sales on The Holiday ($205 million gross on $85 million dollar budget. If they're lucky, they got back the advertising costs), In Her Shoes ($83 million gross on a $35 million budget. Again, they maybe got back the advertising costs with the $6.5 million leftover) and Knight and Day ($261 on a $125 million budget, where they certainly didn't get the advertising costs back with the only $5.5 million leftover) would all be far higher than what actually happened.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

volvagia/amir/etcetera -- the thing with Diaz is, like all movie stars, she's only bankable in certain films. some would quibble and say this means she isn't bankable but i would disagree. Her name guarantees you media interest (which is free advertising) and if you've attached her to the right project it will also increase sales... but obviously as with any star, the project itself will factor in a lot.

October 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This weekend I watched movies at home. I finally saw the 1960 movie Can-Can which sounds great on paper (Shirley MacLaine singing and dancing and wearing great costumes!), but it was so boring I didn't even pay attention to the Cole Porter songs. I guess they were going for Gigi (even casting two of its stars) but ouch, what a snooze.

And I watched Looper and Premium Rush. I guess it was a JG-L weekend. He was good in both. Both movies were only okay though. At least Looper had more ambition though it was as ridiculous as Premium Rush.

And Yay for Gravity, the best experience I've had in the theater all year.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

@CMG - interesting, and thanks for using the context to explain it.

Also, yes, my comment about the editing was way too broad. A lot of it was fantastic - the nature shots, the overlapping audio, etc.

And as far as Patsey and Eliza, your comment is what I was getting at. They seemed like 'representatives' of a 'narrative' rather than fully developed people. Granted, their scenes and the actors were still powerful. I'm glad Oduye is getting work after her fantastic turn in "Pariah" (thanks, Nat, for bringing that film to my attention!) and I can't wait to see what Nyong'o does next.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I watched Mrs. Parkington with the astonishing Greer Garson on TCM last night. True star power.

Have to say, after reading all the entertainingly negative reviews of The Counselor, I just might have to see it.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

DJDeeJay- If we're talking about the same close-up, it is the static shot that occurs immediately after he opens up to Pitt. I think it comes down to Chiwetel's performance, but the longer McQueen held the camera on his face, the more I appreciated Chiwetel's sense of dread, anxiety and (a tiny bit of) excitement. Cliched as it may sounds, his eyes say so much more than words could. In a completely hopeless situation, he sees a glimmer of hope and yet, he can't bring himself to believe anything will come of it. I could virtually read his thoughts as he wondered if there was any chance Pitt would actually take his message all across the country. Barring the final scene, I think that's the best part about Ejiofor's performance.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Amir - wow, that really sheds a whole new light on that moment for me. For some reason I totally lost the connection from the previous scene with Pitt and thought he just looked...troubled. (But don't get me wrong, overall I still thought Ejiofor was great.)

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I finally got around to seeing the new Romeo and Juliet remake and I enjoyed it. Steinfeld and Booth did good with their roles, and Lewis made an impression on me. But I really loved Mansville and Giamatti (as the Nurse and Friar respectively). Giamatti's last shot in the tomb sequence has got to be one of my top 3 images on film this year.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

I did see the Metallica film. I was in it for Dane Dehaan. He didn't disappoint. The story within the concert goes from compelling post-apocalyptic horror to utter nonsense about halfway through. It was a great experiment in changing how a concert film works but it didn't come together because the story didn't work. It started out as something original and then descended into living album art territory. Still, one sequence with a street full of hanged bodies was one of the more unsettling visuals I've seen in a horror/horror-adjacent film in a long time.

I'm not a huge Metallica fan but I was rather impressed by the band's skill when I saw the original 3D trailer. I was shocked to discover things like the lead singer is actually a very trained vocalist who rarely uses that gravelly tone when performing live. The recordings exaggerate the heavy metal quality when his preferred performance style is seemingly clean, strong, perfectly placed vocals. It was a big learning curve for me. Like, the wild guitar solos did nothing for me but the beautiful resonance in his vocal mask and light vibrato kept me interested. Also, all the band members are great showmen and really draw you in.

The box office doesn't surprise me. You can only see it in IMAX 3D theaters with the enhanced audio that costs even more than just an IMAX 3D screening. I only went because my brother bought the tickets as part of my birthday gift (came out on my birthday and I couldn't convince him to go for indie/arthouse/foreign fair to celebrate). I had a lovely cup of coffee and sunk into some very clean 3D work and interesting genre experimentation.

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Amir, I totally agreed about "Wadjda" being one of the year's best!!
Saw it when I had a surprising day off, with only 9 people in the theater, and two of them kept talking throughout the whole movie even though I told them to keep it down :(
It starts off in such simple terms, I wasn't prepared for the complicated moral dilemmas Wadjda has to face later in the movie. Of course, without the winsome charm of the little actress and the chemistry between her and Abdullah, it won't be as effective and emotional. Yes, it's a movie filmed in Saudi Arabia about a Saudi Arabian girl, but the story is universal.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLars

john: instead of Coco Avant Chanel, watch Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. It came out around the same time and is so much better.

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick

I saw "Captain Phillips" which was harrowing. Tom Hanks brings it in the last half hour. The guy next to me said it was the first time he's cried at the movies since "Brian's Song".

I also saw "The Conjuring" on demand and, like "Insidious", is reaaaaallllyy creepy for the first 2/3 of the movie, and then begins falling apart. BUT if you're in the Spirit of the Season, both can be recommended.

Go Cardinals!!! Hollywood Comeback Time!!!

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

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