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Entries in box office (238)


Box Office: Grey Whips His Competition

Amir here, apologetic about the terrible pun in the headline, and bringing you the weekend’s numbers with a glass of wine and a pair of handcuffs.

Valentine’s Day just passed on by and more than any other year, it felt like a zenith for Capitalism and a nadir for humanity. 50 Shades of Grey came close to breaking February’s all-time record thanks to a massive audience who, going by the statistical reports of their age, mostly went to see what their mothers are secretly into. I won’t be watching the film until tomorrow night – I haven’t spent more than the cheap Tuesday ticket price on any film that won the weekend’s box office since… Toy Story 3? – so I’ll reserve my opinion on the film, but I’m genuinely looking forward to it. No, really. (Here's Nathaniel's review) Public response has been mixed, and if you, like Ana and me, are feeling masochistic, have a look at any conversation about the film on twitter and pull your hair in frustration at the short-sightedness, mob mentality and unbearable zero tolerance policies that are increasingly dominating our film discourse.

Sharp Dressed Men ruled the box office this weekend

Click on the highlighted titles for past articles on that film
01 50 SHADES OF GREY $85 new review
02 KINGSMEN: THE SECRET SERVICE $36.2  review soon
03 SPONGEBOB MOVIE $31.6 (cum. $94.8)
04 AMERICAN SNIPER $16.5 (cum. $304.2) 
05 JUPITER ASCENDING $9.2 (cum. $32.3) podcast
06 PADDINGTON $4.1 (cum. $62.3) 
07 SEVENTH SON  $4.1 (cum. $13.4) 
08 THE IMITATION GAME $3.5 (cum. $79.6) 
09 THE WEDDING RINGER $3.4 (cum. $59.7)
10 PROJECT ALMANAC $2.7 (cum. $19.5)
11 BLACK OR WHITE $2.5 (cum. $17.3)
12 THE BOY NEXT DOOR $1.7 (cum. $33.7)
13 STILL ALICE $1.7 (cum. $4.6) 

Kingsman: The Secret Service came a distant second with $35m, which is actually really strong. Add to that the international haul and this can be labelled a big success, especially considering that Colin Firth has only ever had two films open above 20 million, neither of which featured him in the lead. His highest opening ever, so congratulations to the Oscar-winning actor who might now have a spoof franchise on his hand.

Best Picture Watch: American Sniper is inching toward the top of the 2014 pile and by my estimation should be there in exactly 15 days. Whiplash finally passed the $10m mark, meaning that Winter’s Bone remains the last English language Oscar nominee to fail to break out of single digits (at $6.5m).

Toronto was at a whopping -41 degrees this weekend, so I didn't muster the courage to leave the house for a film, but I rewatched, among other things, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is still my favourite of the best picture nominees by a wide margin. What did you watch this weekend?


Box Office: Jupiter Descending

Amir  bringing you the weekend’s box office news. While awards season was in full swing this weekend with the DGA, BAFTAs and Grammys, Spongebob: Sponge Out of Water swept in and wiped off its competition while entering the top five best selling February releases of all time. This is one those films that totally slid below the radar for me; then again, the Venn diagram of people who care about this film and people who care about DGAs and BAFTAs is two separate circles. The weekend’s far buzzier title for cinephiles was Jupiter Ascending, the new visualeffectsapalooza from the Wachowski siblings. It is predictably visually stunning with incoherent plotting and confusing editing etc. etc. Like Cloud Atlas, this was mostly a failure, financially speaking, and you have to wonder how long it will be before they stop getting bankrolled for their strange visions. Finally, Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges’ Seventh Son also bombed, but Universal, having predicted the dreadful critical response, made the very smart decision of opening it internationally a few weeks ago, so they’ve already made up the costs elsewhere.

02 AMERICAN SNIPER $24.1 (cum. $282.2) 
05 PADDINGTON  $5.3 (cum. $57.2)
06 PROJECT ALMANAC  $5.3 (cum. $15.7)
07 THE IMITATION GAME $4.8 (cum. $74.7) 
08 THE WEDDING RINGER $4.8 (cum. $55.1)
09 BLACK OR WHITE $4.5 (cum. $13.1)
10 THE BOY NEXT DOOR $4.1(cum. $30.8)

American Sniper slipped to number 2 on the list but is now firmly the third best film of 2014, still with a reasonable shot at becoming first. Not that being the box office champ necessarily helps its chances with winning the Oscar though – the last time the box office champ (among the nominees) won the Oscar was Slumdog Millionaire in 2008. The Imitation Game is the second best selling best picture nominee and will remain so, given it is still going strong at the theatres. Here is an interesting stat in case you love meaningless stats: the second best selling film is the most likely winner of the Academy award in recent years. Of the thirteen winners this century, five came second in financial terms. Those horrendous “honor the man, honor the film” ads might pay off after all.



I haven’t been catching up with recent releases at the theatres, but have been rewatching all of Iranian auteur Dariush Mehrjui’s films because of my upcoming introduction of his film, Hamoun, at TIFF, which you should attend if you’re in or around Toronto!

What have you been watching?


American Sniper = Frozen

American Sniper continued to be the story at the box office (Super Bowl weekend didn't slow it down) adding an incredible $31 million to its now gargantuan cume and it still maintains a great per screen average suggesting a long run still. It's now replaced Gone Girl as 2014's biggest non-franchise non-cgi driven hit aimed at adults. It will leapfrog Winter Soldier and LEGO this week to become the third biggest hit of 2014 behind The Hunger Games and Guardians of the Galaxy

A strange turn of events. It's like the Frozen of 2014 (which also surpassed all expectations to close its year as #3) without the earworm diva showtunes

01 AMERICAN SNIPER $31.8 (cum. $248.9)
02 PADDINGTON $8.5 (cum. $50.5)  
05 THE BOY NEXT DOOR $6.0 (cum. $24.6)

In other significant box office news: Game of Thrones made $1.5 million with its IMAX gamble; Still Alice crossed the million dollar mark but is still at less than 100 theaters; Mauritania's first Oscar nominee Timbuktu debuted to only $50,000 from 4 theaters; and A Most Violent Year went wide to an unspectacular $1.7 million but at least it's out there to be seen. If you didn't see it this weekend, you know what Jessica Chastain would have to say about that...

This was very disrespectful.

So what did you see this weekend? 


Oscar Acting Races: 5 Box Office Musings

Manuel here to offer some random box office facts about the acting races. The big Oscar box office story continues to be American Sniper’s unprecedented success, so much so that Bradley Cooper garnered a shoutout last night at the SAG Awards despite not being nominated. I’m starting to feel the Best Picture category might not be the only three-way race as we wade deeper into Phase 2. Numbers and statistics junkie that I imagine myself to be, I was curious to see whether the past fifteen years’ worth of box office numbers in the acting categories could help us gleam anything about potential outcomes. Spoiler alert: not much, but enjoy the following random tidbits below. 

As it stands, Bradley, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall (improbably, really) and Meryl Streep hold the title as the highest grossing nominees from their respective races. How might this help Bradley; well, let's take a look back at the box office history in the acting races.

  • Did you know that the last three times Best Leading Actor went to the highest grossing film of the bunch it went to men winning their second (Tom Hanks) and third (Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day Lewis) Oscars?
  • In stark contrast, headlining the biggest hit in the category usually helps you win* in the Best Leading Actress category (see: Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon, Hilary Swank, and Julia Roberts) and the Best Supporting Actress category (see: Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Hudson, Cate Blanchett, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jennifer Connelly). I’d come up with a random theory about this statistical anomaly where it not, like everything else below, most likely random happenstance.
    *Or rather, the Oscar has statistically gone to the actress in the highest grossing film of the group.

All info collected from BoxOfficeMojo 

  • 2014 will be the first year since 2011 where Best Supporting Actor, a category that most often than not boasts the highest per film average of all four acting categories (usually bolstered by films like The Dark Knight in 2008, Lincoln & Django Unchained in 2012, and Chicago & Catch Me If You Can in 2002) will be the lowest grossing category among the acting races. And just as in 2011, when Christopher Plummer picked up a statuette for Beginners ($5,790,894) the lowest-grossing nominee will most likely walk away with the win.
  • Unsurprisingly, averaging in the past fifteen years a little less than $50 million per film, Best Leading Actress is usually the lowest-grossing category among the acting nominees. Notice those two most recent upticks in the category in 2009 and 2013? You can thank one Ms Sandra Bullock for those.
  • 2007 may account for the lowest averages for all acting categories, but 2005 is the last year where only one film nominated for an acting award crossed the $100 million threshold: Walk the Line. This year, out of 13 films nominated in these four categories, three films have accomplished this feat: Gone Girl, Into the Woods and American Sniper, with The Imitation Game looking likely to join them.
Let's talk money. Do you think Bradley actually has a chance at gold? Stats would seem to think so; Renee & Russell prevailed at least once during their recent threepeat and actors really seem to be warming up to him in the film, no?

Box Office: American Sniper Towers Above Oscar Nominees

Amir here, back from my very long vacation to hit you with some box office news.  Did you know that this group of eight Best Pictures is the least popular set of nominees since the turn of the century, going by box office receipts? The average gross of about $39m is the lowest of the past fifteen years, though it will probably edge out 2005’s collective (standing at $49m) once the theatrical run of all these films ends. It is also the first time since that year that none of the nominees have hit the $100m mark, though American Sniper is about to change that. 

Chart via Box Office Mojo. Estimates as of Sunday January 18th

It is easy to forget sometimes what a small bubble we occupy in the film blogosphere, and how differently people in the real world perceive and consume these films. It feels like Whiplash has been around for ages, having first entered the conversation all the way back in January. It’s shocking to see what little impact this expertly directed film has made at the box office, barely edging out Amour and Winter’s Bone to avoid becoming the lowest grossing best picture nominee of the century.

Oscar wasn’t interested in what people liked this year, despite finally getting on the Wes Anderson bandwagon for his biggest hit – and a decade too late. Several of the year’s biggest hits either missed out on nominations entirely, or underperformed with the Academy. File Gone Girl, Noah, The LEGO Movie, Edge of Tomorrow and even Fury under that category, though only one of those had any hope of a best picture nomination. What has been surprising is that Eastwood’s late party-crasher performed as well as it did, breaking all sorts of records for January releases and R-rated films, grossing $90m on its first wide weekend.

American Sniper is going to be the savior of this collective, financially speaking. According to Box Office Mojo, the film has made more than Birdman, Boyhood, Whiplash and The Theory of Everything combined. Its gross this weekend is wildly beyond expectations, but the magical combination of Bradley Cooper, conservative material and Eastwood in his comfort zone have totally hit America’s sweet spot. This caps an outstanding year for Cooper, who just netted his third consecutive best actor nomination and starred in the year’s biggest box office hit, Guardians of the Galaxy. You’d have been called a lunatic if you predicted this as recently as three years ago and yet, here we are, witnessing Cooper’s reign. And for what it’s worth, he’s a better king for Hollywood than most of his contemporaries.  

Have you seen American Sniper? Which gaps do you still need to fill in your Oscar slate?


Box Office: "Into the Woods" Worth More Than Five Beans

Whenever I hear myself complaining loudly about the December glut I know I will have a comeuppance when I see the box office chart and notice once again that everything makes a ton of money during the Christmas and New Years. 

Everything that opens wide that is. It's still an awfully tough time to open an indie on a few screens or a foreign film (though distributors always try) as evidence by A Most Violent YearTwo Days One Night and Leviathan which need far more publicity than they can reasonably manage when everyone is talking about the behemoths like all-star musical and Angelina Jolie's epic and so on. Those films are at $300,000, $109,000 and $79,000 respectively.

01 HOBBIT 3 $21.9 NEW (cum. $220.7) Five Beautiful Armies
02 INTO THE WOODS $19 (cum. $91.2)  InterviewReview
03 UNBROKEN $18.3 (cum. $87.8)  Interview
04 WOMAN IN BLACK 2 NEW $15.1  
05 NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3  $14.4 (cum. $89.7)
06 ANNIE  $11.4 (cum. $72.6)
07 IMITATION GAME $8.1 (cum. $30.8)  Reviewsecond take
08 HUNGER GAMES 3 $7.7 (cum. $323.8) Review
09 THE GAMBLER $6.3 (cum. $27.5) Review
10 BIG HERO 6 $4.8 (cum. $211.2)  Review / second take

11 WILD $4.5 (cum. $25.8) Reviewinterviewpodcast
12 EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS $3.7 (cum. $61.2) Review
13 PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR $2.8 (cum. $78) Review
14 BIG EYES $2.6 (cum. $9.9)  Brief note
15 INTERSTELLAR $2.4 (cum. $182.7) ReviewPodcast
16 TOP FIVE $2.1 (cum. $23.7) Thoughts
17 THEORY OF EVERYTHING  $1.1 (cum. $24.7) Reviewpodcast
18 THE INTERVIEW $1.1 (cum. $4.9)
19 HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 $0.9 (cum. $53)
20 FOXCATCHER $.09 (cum. $7.9)  Reviewsecond Takepodcast

It's worth noting that Into the Woods is already the 7th most successful musical of the 21st century and seems likely to vault over most of its competitors. Whether it can surplant Chicago (also by Rob Marshall) as #1 is the question.

Of the top 20 the Imitation Game had the most crowded theaters followed by Into the Woods. Meanwhile in platform release the big story is still two mainstream movies which go wide very soon. Selma and American Sniper are both already at $2 million and go wide next week and the week after respectively. Expect huge numbers for American Sniper which continues to pack houses whether or not it wins Oscar nominations the day before its release. Incidentally Still Alice opens the day after the nominations, finally showing its face to regular citizens.


Meanwhile everyone still thinks Cake doesn't exist. What did you see this weekend?



Screener Adventures from American Snipers to British Painters (Pt. 2)

Previously... I shared brief thoughts about rewatches of Big Hero, Grand Budapest, Babadook well as The Homesman and Skeleton Twins.

What came next in the home-screening adventures, you ask? Here I am to answer. I haven't had as much time as I'd hope (aint that always the case) but I've been trying to cram movies in. Here are a handful of notes on movies from the screener stack.

Credit where credit is due: For once a Clint Eastwood movie is not filmed like its sinking into an inky black void where color is a total affront to sober intent. It turns out Tom Stern can make movies that take place in reasonably well lit places. Okay, okay, let's not get carried away. It's still largely colorless but this time there is daylight though the subject matter remains brutal. I'm not sure what to make of its dead-eyed killings which aren't filmed with any rah-rah glee that you'd think would accompany the movie's conservative America is #1 conservatism. Even its one note patriotism is presented rather than, I think, fully endorsed: Chris Kyle, very well played by Bradley Cooper though there isn't much in the way of an arc, memorably refuses to engage with any criticism and is all "God, Family, & Country" in each scene. But something about its very matter-of-fact presentation and inarticulate hero wore me down after awhile despite gripping action sequences. I have no idea how Oscar might respond but my hunch is it's either full hog or both sound nominations only a la Lone Survivor

Meryl's Insane Bankability Continues! Well done, diva.INTO THE WOODS
Reviewed by ranking its musical numbers here. It was the second time I'd seen it having watched it on a big screen originally. Weirdly I think the cinematography, which often looked too muddy and dark on the screen works a little better on a TV. But anyway...  let's hear it for Disney for a great opening weekend. It's important that musicals do well so that we get more of them! Into the Woods won not only the biggest opening weekend ever for a Broadway adaptation but the biggest of Meryl Streep's career, as well. I imagine we'll continue to talk about Into the Woods for a while --  multiple Oscar nominations coming -- so I'll let this be all for this post.

I already peed on that here but it keeps haunting me like bad trip flashbacks. Especially the dye job on Vera Farmiga who deserves better Hollywood, come on. Also that scene where RDJ is like superhero-lawyer and stops a bar fight with the power of his wily words!

A love letter from Tangiers & Detroit to all of you who recommended this movie throughout the year. Though I was once the type who would rush to anything vampiric, I'll readily admit that Hollywood's overuse of the bloodsuckers finally wore me out; I've been avoiding all such movies for years now. But I should have trusted Jim Jarmusch to come at it from an entirely different angle and I don't know how I missed that it was shot by Yorick Le Saux who won my silver medal for cinematography in 2010 for I Am Love. Detroit has never looked so beautifully haunted, Tilda and Tom couldn't have been a more exotically languid well-cultured pair, its slow moods weren't trying but contemplative, and the ending was pitch-perfect delayed gratification.

Excusez moi

A surprise. If you only listen to this movie as opposed to watching it (which is what I sometimes do when The Boyfriend is watching TV) it sounds rather like a horror movie. I'm not kidding. There are a lot of scary animalistic noises supposedly emanating from human people (not just Spall's famed grunt speak) and the score by Gary Yershon might be the creepiest outside of Under the Skin this year.  

P.S. Speaking of The Boyfriend...
This time of year chez moi he watches a ton of screeners since he doesn't go to many critics screenings with me. I usually don't watch carefully (having already seen them) and drift in and out as I'm working. He is unpredictable about movies. He loved Pride and Ida (as most sane people do), thought Mr Turner was "good. well made" but clearly had no passion for it. Cried huge apartment-flooding puddles during Still Alice and Wild, and inexplicably H-A-T-E-D both Force Majeure and A Most Violent Year (what the what??? x 2). Finally, he was paying so little attention to Love is Strange that I had to make him shut it off. That wonderful movie from Ira Sachs is too delicate for half-watching. It requires your full attention or that glorious final 15 minutes just won't resonate. 

Have you ever learned something new about a movie you loved by catching only pieces of it or hearing it in the background?

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