Oscar History

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Entries in box office (270)


Biggest Foreign and Documentary Hits of the Year (Thus Far)

Since Labor Day Weekend is historically a lame box office weekend, it affords us a fine opportunity to look back at the year thus far rather than wait for box office results. Especially in terms of films that aren't usually spoken of in terms of box office. So let's look at two sets of baker's dozens: 2015'S FOREIGN LANGUAGE and DOCUMENTARY HITS.

*second* biggest-hits in Foreign & Documentary: "Baahubali: The Beginning" and "Amy"

How many have you seen?

Top Dozen of 2015 thus far
01 Bajrangi Bhaijaan (India) $8+
02 Baahubali: The Beginning (India) $6+ 
03 A La Mala (Mexico) $3+
04 Wild Tales (Argentina) $3+ Review
05 Dil Dhadakne Do (India)  $3+ 
06 Tanu Weds Manu Returns (India) $3+
07 Clouds of Sils Maria* (France)  $1+ Various Sils Maria Articles
08 Piku (India)  $1+
09 Assassination (South Korea) $1+
10 Phoenix (Germany) $1+ Nina Hoss Interview
11 i (India)  $1+
12 Timbuktu (Mauritania) $1+ Review, César Winners
13 Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Israel) $.9+ Review, Second Opinion

As we always see in the foreign charts in the past decade or so, Bollywood films continue to be solid imported hits without the benefit of any media attention whatsoever. That's what comes when you have distribution companies that cater to niche audiences and understand/market directly to them. This is surely what China Lion is attempting of late though they have yet to find as much regular support for Chinese language films. Aside from the Hindi language films, the top of the charts also painfully remind us that subtitled films have far teensier grosses even when they get breakout media attention than they once had. Wild Tales for example surely would have been at least a $13 million rather than a $3 million hit a decade ago. The chart also shows us that Oscar nominations help (see #4 and #12) but aren't necessary (see #10 and #13). 2015 hasn't yet had a breakout Oscar-headed hit like Ida from Poland last year (Phoenix was passed over for Oscar submission last year by Germany so it's been on its own without awards-buzz to find its audience. Happily, it's done just that). Sadly Sweden's sublime Oscar entry for this year A Pigeon Sat on a Branch... earned only $200,000 at the US box office. Maybe Labyrinth of Lies, Germany's submission, which opens September 25th can fill that semi-annual slot of foreign hit that doesn't wait for its Oscar fate to make a stir. 

* I'm fudging to include Clouds of Sils Maria I know. It's surely ineligible for France's Oscar submission as its more than 50% English. If you remove it from the list, the film that enters at the lowest rung is The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared from Swedish director Felix Herngren. It earned nearly a million at the US box office but was a huge hit internationally with an additional $50 million!

Top Ten of 2015 Thus Far
01 Monkey Kingdom $16+ 
02 Amy $8+ Review
03 The Salt of the Earth $1+ Documentary Nominees Conversation
04 Iris $1+
05 The Wolfpack $1+ Review
06 Dior & I $1+
07 Meru $.8+ 
08 Red Army $.6+
09 Best of Enemies $.6+ Review
10 Cartel Land $.6+
11 Seymour: An Introduction $.6+ Review
12 Deli Man $.5+
13 The Hunting Ground $.4+


The list includes only one of last year's Oscar nominees The Salt of the Earth since most of them played in their correct calendar year. The big story beyond Disney's nature epic and the Amy Winehouse hit, is the success of Sundance Award Winners since The Wolfpack, Cartel Land and Meru were all hits in release. The late Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens) final full documentary feature Iris about eccentric fashion icon Iris Apfel was also well-received.

From this list we really expected Red Army to break out a little further as the Russian Olympic hockey documentary was quite entertaining and benefitted from a highly accessible international-interest storyline. If they hadn't waited for their Oscar nomination -- which they didn't get -- they might have fared better. 

Here's a crazy colorful musical number from the year's #1 foreign language hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan starring Salman Khan called "Selfie Le Le Re"

When was the last time you saw a Bollywood film in theaters? Do you seek out the buzz titles from these categories?


What did you see this weekend?

August 28th-30th estimates

01 Straight Outta Compton $13.2 (cum. $134.1) Podcast
02 War Room $11 new
03 Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation  $8.3 (cum. $170.3) Tim's Review
04 No Escape $8.3 new (cum. $26.8)
05 Sinister 2 $4.6 (cum. $18.5) Interview 

While it was a semi-drowsy weekend for new releases, Straight Outta Compton and Mission: Impossible continued to hold well. Just outside this list was The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which, though it had a rough opening and is now losing theaters, is holding its per screen average better than should probably have been expected. Perhaps enough people have heard that it's actually G.O.O.D.?

BOX OFFICE LIMITED (excluding prev. wide releases)
August 28th-30th estimates

01 Mistress America $.4 (cum. $.9) 150 screens
02 Diary of a Teenage Girl $.4 (cum. $.9) 795 screens Review
03 Phoenix $.3 (cum. $1.4) 142 screens Interview
04 End of the Tour $.3 (cum. $2.3) 256 screens
05 Grandma $.3 (cum. $.4) on 19 screens Nathaniel's ReviewJoe's ReviewPosterized

While it's always thrilling to see a distributor get ballsy and expand tiny movies to the number of theaters that they deserve to play in, rather than cautiously hope people will stumble upon hidden gems, it doesn't always pay off. Sony Pictures Classics added over 700 screens for Diary of a Teenage Girl , perhaps sensing now or never given their full upcoming slate, but the per screen average was not pretty. Will they be as bold with Grandma in two weeks? That has a chance of paying off better if they can stoke Oscar buzz and make Lily Tomlin's career-capper into a leave your house event for adult moviegoers.

Just outside this list sits the modest Learning to Drive, which is a highly pleasant watch starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley and Life Metaphors. Improbably 2015 has become a strong year for women of a certain age with star vehicles for Patty (who is 55), Blythe (72), and Lily (75), with Charlotte Rampling (69) still to come in 45 Years. That's in addition to the four who regularly get them: Meryl (Ricki), Helen (Woman in Gold), Judi & Maggie (Best Exotic 2). So we talked about that on last week's podcast.

Finally, when I figure out why I didn't love Mistress America, considering that TFE was madly in love with the last Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig duet Frances Ha, I'll tell you but I haven't figured it out. If you've seen it perhaps you can help in the comments. What did you see this weekend?



What did you see this weekend?

Question: Do you think that that amazing Straight Outta Somewhere internet meme, which was going strong for weeks before the film opened, helped the amazing box office tally for Straight Outta Compton?

The film has no "name" actors and is performing like a true blockbuster these past two weekends. I mean even I got into the act on twitter and instagram (see image below) and I have no real emotional connection to N.W.A. (Rap and Hiphop were never really an interest of mine outside of Missy Elliott in totality and a couple of dozen other songs and/or artists) 

In limited release both Grandma and Learning to Drive had solid starts and if word of mouth kicks in they could be looking at healthy runs. Phoenix, the German sleeper hit, continues to expand and will break the magical $1 million mark for arthouse imports any second now. Joe Swanberg's latest Digging For Fire with Rosemarie DeWitt had a tough time finding its audience though.

August 21st-23rd estimates

01 Straight Outta Compton $27.8 (cum. $112.5)
02 Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation $11.7 (cum. $157.7) Tim's Review
05 Sinister 2  $10.5 new  Interview
03 The Man From U.N.C.L.E. $7.6 (cum. $26.8) Kyle's Review
04 Hitman Agent 47 $7.5 new 
05 American Ultra  $5.7 new
06 The Gift  $4.3 (cum. $31) Jose's Review
07 Ant-Man  $4.2 (cum. $164.6)  Tim's ReviewPodcast, on Paul Rudd
08 Minions  $3.9 (cum. $320.1)  Tim on the Minions phenom
09 Fantastic Four $3.6 (cum. $49.5) Tim's Review

August 21st - 23rd estimates

01 Mr Holmes $.6 (cum. $15.3) on 430 screens
02 The End of the Tour $.5 (cum. $1.6) on 355 screens
03 Phoenix $.3 (cum. $.9) on 108 screens Interview
04 Mistress America $.2 (cum. $.3) on 32 screens
05 Diary of a Teenage Girl $.1 (cum. $.4) on 69 screens Michael's Review
06 Amy  $.1 (cum. $7.6) on 100 screens Glenn's Review
07 Grandma  $.1 on 4 screens NEW Nathaniel's ReviewJoe's ReviewPosterized: Lily Tomlin
08 Learning to Drive  $.06 on 4 screens NEW
09 Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet $.04 (cum. $.1) on 24 screens
10 Listen to Me Marlon  $.04 (cum. $.2) on 26 screens Amir's Review



Highest Paid Actresses, 2015 Edition

Forbes annual Highest Paid Actress list arrived this morning. It tracks income from films and merchandising and endorsement deals and so on and prints the (estimated conjecture) total before management fees and taxes are removed. The endorsements is why household name celebrities, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts, stay on the list for years and years after their peak bankable actressing. Here's the list if you don't want to have to click through the 19 page gallery. But you will have to click through 19 pages if you want to know just how each of these women is making so much bank.

The list with our commentary after the jump

Click to read more ...


Box Office: Straight Outta Competition


Amir here, to bring you the weekend’s box office report.

It’s a historic weekend of sorts. In this year of records being broken left and right, perhaps Straight Outta Compton’s position as the 6th biggest August opening of all time isn’t all that impressive, but considering the context, it’s mighty impressive. Despite the weight of the name of its producers, the iconic original album and the enthusiastic reviews, $56m is still way above expectations. (A cursory look at the films around Compton on the August all-time top ten list truly sets the film apart. N.W.A. is a brand but not exactly a ticket-seller at the multiplex.) Significantly for Universal, the biopic’s gross – nearly double the previous record opening for a musical biopic – means they have reached the 2 billion dollar mark for the year in August, earlier (by four months!) than any studio ever before.

Straight Outta Compton
$56m new
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
&17m (cum. $138m)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
$13.5m new
Fantastic Four
$8m (cum. $42m)
The Gift
$6.5m (cum. $23.5m)

The other wide release, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. didn’t fare so well, which is a shame given at least of two of its four stars are very likeable (and exceptionally glamorous, too). On the limited front, one of my most anticipated films of the year, Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America, opened to rather disappointing returns on four screens, failing even to reach the mark set by Frances Ha, though we can never read too much into this super small platforms. Is it me or does it seem like no one is talking about this film, even though the few who are talking about it are very positive?

I had a splendid weekend: I binge-re-watched the second season of Bojack Horseman, which I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone, and also watched a soon-to-be-released film that currently tops both my best picture and best actress lists for the year.

What did you watch this weekend?


Ricki Rendazzo, Reed Richards, and Bubbles Bursting

Meryl Streep? Tom Cruise? Pac-Man? Vacation? It's like the 1980s all over again in movie theaters. It was a weak weekend overall with a ton of miniscule new releases and underperforming wide newbies. Meryl Streep had her worst opening weekend in a film sold on mostly on her presence since Prime (2005) before she regained her box office clout with The Devil Wears Prada. The only true success story this weekend was the word of mouth for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation which held on to #1 for another weak. It is definitely a fun summer picture but the "best in the series!" reviews feel like a bit of an overstatement. It's not quite as ambitiously staged and exciting as Ghost Protocol, but it's better than the other action films around it which makes it seem that much better. That opera scene with at least four simultaneous agendas in play and all the deadly assassins totally confused by each other sure is a kick, though, don't you think?

Click to read more ...


What did you see this weekend?

I did try to see one movie repeatedly this weekend but The Boyfriend never let me finish the senten --  "I know where this is leading and I'm not seeing the new Tom Cruise!" so I'll go alone tomorrow. (What can I say? I like stunts.) But the closest subway wasn't running this weekend anyway so it was a perfect DVR & Netflix catch-up plus Smackdown-focused weekend.

Tom Cruise is in danger again. But he can survive anything with derring-do

July 31st-August 2nd estimates
01 Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation $56 NEW
02 Vacation $14.8 NEW 
03 Ant-Man $12.6 (cum. $132.1) Review, Podcast
04 Minions $12.2 (cum. $287.3)  Tim on the Minions phenom
05 Pixels $10.3 (cum. $45.6) Review
06 Trainwreck $9.7 (cum. $79.7) Podcast
07 Southpaw $7.5 (cum. $31.5) Which Jake do you love most?, Podcast
08 Paper Towns $4.6 (cum. $23.8)
09 Inside Out $4.5 (cum. $329.5) Podcast
10 Jurassic World $3.8 (cum. $631.5) Blockbusters vs. Oscars

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