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Entries in Zero Dark Thirty (23)

Sunday
Jan202013

Box Office Playbook: Jessica vs. Jennifer

As if doing battle like Best Actress Gladiators both Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence are all over the nation's theaters. They'll be horns locked for the next 5 weeks in the media, I'll bet. JLaw was joking about beating JChas to the Oscar on SNL -- too gently? -- but it was Jessica who won the box office. And twice over. The last time I remember that happening was Leonardo DiCaprio at Christmas 2002 I think (Gangs of New York and Catch Me If You Can?)  [UPDATE: Sharp-eyed TFE Reader Brian Z actually reminds us that it happened in 2011 too... also with Jessica Chastain for The Help and The Debt]

On a related side note: I just know I'm going to start calling them Jessica Lawrence and Jennifer Chastain before long; name slippage is coming!

Box Office Top Ten
01 MAMA $28.1 *NEW* Jose likes the wig
02 ZERO DARK THIRTY  $17.6 (cum. $55.9) Top Ten List  
03 SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK  $11.3 (cum. $55.3)  Beau's Review
04 GANGSTER SQUAD  $9.1 (cum $32.2) 
05 BROKEN CITY $9 *NEW* 
06 A HAUNTED HOUSE  $8.3  (cum. $29.9)
07 DJANGO UNCHAINED $8.2 (cum. $138.3) More on Django
08 LES MISERABLES $7.8 (cum $130.3) Top Ten List
09 THE HOBBIT $6.4  (cum $287.3)
10 THE LAST STAND $6.3 *NEW* 

In other movie/money news: Skyfall became only the 10th movie to break the $300 million barrier in the US box office this decade (Alice in Wonderland and The Hunger Games are the only non-sequels in that list... though both are franchisey in that remake or kick-off kind of way); Two very expensive movie gambles Life of Pi and Rise of the Guardians will inch over the $100 million mark in the next few days which must be a relief even if it doesn't quite spell "big profit!"; Chasing Ice, a nominee for Best Original Song, crossed the $1 million mark which is a big deal for documentaries; Sony Pictures Classics are still being really conservative with Amour -- it's only in 36 theaters despite 5 Oscar nominations last week though they grossed nearly ½ a million this weekend; And despite nobody caring about it or talking about it whatsoever Tom Cruise's latest actioner Jack Reacher crossed the $75 million mark this weekend... Oscar season always makes it easy to forget that a huge portion of the moviegoing public never even thinks about "Oscar Season".

WEIRD, RIGHT? 

Speaking of the public -- though the specific and not the general --  what did you see this weekend?

the three most popular movie musicals since Cabaret. Les Misérables is nearing their lofty box office heights

P.S. Les Misérables only needs a few more weeks of heat -- which Oscar season will surely provide -- to pass Mamma Mia! and become the third most popular movie musical of the modern era stateside (after Grease & Chicago). Of course the atrocious Mamma Mia! has the absurd distinction of being so popular around the globe (over ½ a billion) that it's actually the most successful modern musical if you include the entire world in your overview. Usually we prefer to be international but Mamma Mia!? Blargh!

 

Friday
Jan182013

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously: The Honorable Mentions

Often during the calendar-straddling list-making frenzy of "top ten season" a scene or a line of dialogue or even a whole film will refuse to dislodge itself from any internal conversation you may have with oneself about the year. That moment for me this year was Kylie Minogue's cameo late in Holy Motors when she arrives in a trenchcoat, like some lost Casablanca love, to sing:

Who were we. When we were. Who we were back then?

It'd be ineloquent bathos, too crudely and redundantly stated, if it weren't sung. But this heightened musical longing for a lost identity, lifts and soars with pathos instead. The year's best films kept reinforcing this most interior of questions as they wrestled with their past selves towards an uncertain future.

Nathaniel's Top Ten of 2012
From all movies screened that received US theatrical releases...

ZERO DARK THIRTY (Kathryn Bigelow)
Sony/Columbia. December 21st 

[SPOILERS FOLLOW] My favorite exchange in Mark Boal's dense script occurs between a government official and a CIA operative. "What the fuck does that mean?" "It's a tautology". I laughed at the wordplay in the film but wasn't expecting the widespread tautological eruptions that followed the film's premiere as everyone bent themselves into self-affirming pretzels to debate its portrayal of torture in the film's opening scenes as if there were only one way to look at the damn movie... as if torture were the only thing worth discussing about the film! To Zero Dark Thirty's credit, though I too was discomfited by its suggestion that torture yielded useful intel, there's nary a comfortable or pandering moment in the film. Like The Hurt Locker before it, ZDT attempts something like an apolitical stance though how successful that is (or ever can be) will be left to each viewer to decide. In my mind, Bigelow doesn't suggest that you're meant to enjoy torture or even embrace the mission's success, exactly...

more on Zero Dark and 9 more triumphs after the jump...

Click to read more ...

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?
 

Sunday
Jan132013

Terms of EnLinkment

E! Online Jessica Chastain sings Happy Birthday to Marc Malkin and sounds damn fine doing it. Laughs about the now broken 'Chastain Curse'. 
Vanity Fair looks back at their photos of our new Oscar Nominees
Self Styled Siren watches old movies with her mom over the holidays 
Timothy Brayton on Silver Linings Playbook. Lots of salient points in this mixed review which never once BELLOWS like the movie does.
The Hot Blogs Look what the Life of Pi team will be wearing to the Globes 

Just Jared Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult are both available again. You're free to ask them out... well, separately I mean.
Pajiba an all female (photoshopped) Avengers - have you seen Alison Brie as Captain America?
The Geek Twins every Superman logo for the past 75 years. Oh yeah, I somehow didn't notice that Man of Steel is arriving for Superman's 75th Anniversary year. Good timing. 
Carpetbagger talks to Jacki Weaver who admits she didn't cast an Oscar ballot this year
The White House's legit, official, and officially hilarious response to the petition to build a real Death Star.  

Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

Touchy Touchy Touchy - Everyone Gets So Touchy This Time of the Movie Year
In Contention Kris Tapley speaks his mind about the "Critics Choice Awards". I agree with almost all of this. The BFCA have always had a problem in trying to feel superior to the Globes but in practice being inferior or at least equally shameless about what they're actually up to with celebrity fawning. Trust that I understand the celebrity fawning impulse but I hope it gets better. Why not be a "principled alternative"?
IndieWire filmmaker Alex Gibney defends his attacks on Zero Dark Thirty 
Huffington Post Scott Mendelson is up in arms about the treatment of Kathryn Bigelow by the media
THR Quentin Tarantino thinks he's above criticism when it comes to discussions of violence in film
Film.com 'I don't agree with the Quvenzhane Wallis nomination'
Oscah Fevah "this has been a visual review of Les Misérables"

On Les Miz, please to note: I no longer cringe at the hyperbolic hate. That got boring after two weeks. I've officially turned a corner and I now find people's overwhelming loathing of Les Miz terribly amusing in all its narcimasochistic performativity -- if only one of the legion of haters would actually gouge their eyes out instead of just saying they'd rather do that or wanted to while watching it, than we'd have a story. Come on, people. COMMIT ! Tom Hooper did ;) Hating Les Miz is now the run amok mob equivalent of that nun orgy scene in Ken Russell's The Devils. And I love The Devils so I'm good here. Let it all out. Work yourself into a point-of-no-return frenzy!

Shirley Maclaine visit Downton Abbey

I Forgot to Mention This Weeks Ago
Michael Musto says that Shirley Maclaine's daughter has written a tell all. Good timing since Shirley Maclaine has been resurrecting her stardom lately with small movie roles (I wish she had more to do in Bernie) and a showcase television gig (sparring with the stuffy Brits of Downton Abbey... though her dialogue is bizarre, no?). So this book... Mommie Dearest 2.0? Uh oh.

Which movie star's parenting skills would you love to read about?

Sunday
Dec302012

Had Your Self a Misérable Little Christmas?

Another big cash grab day is ahead for the movies as New Year's Day approaches. But for this weekend the winners are clear. Django Unchained & Les Misérables much ballyhooed "Sad Off" was a true contest for wintry dollars with Tarantino's controversial slavery comedy revenge fantasy eventually pulling out in front of the musical. But the war for profit puts Les Miz in winner's position since it's already equalled it's budget in just the first six days. Django has a ways to go for that milestone but let's not nitpick as they're both true hits. 

Box Office Chart repurposed from Box Office Mojo

In fact, it's been a good box office year for Oscar-buzzing players. Affleck and Spielberg's pictures were both $100 million grossers with Lincoln still going strong. Pi & Playbook have solid sales - they didn't embarrass themselves. Of the front-running Oscar six only Zero Dark Thirty has been little seen but that's a function of timing and platforming rather than audience choice. If Zero Dark Thirty doesn't delay its expansion for too long it seems certain to demolish The Hurt Locker's gross in no time.

Did you see both Django & Les Miz over the break?

I almost went to The Hobbit but abruptly changed my mind and tweeted as much:

 

 

Oh sweet relief! I really do feel it.

Saturday
Dec292012

Que Sera Sera, Whatever We'll Link, We'll Link

Roger Ebert delivers his top ten list with Argo up top. Ebert's always been a fairly mainstream Oscar-Friendly voice so it's no surprise to see three of the (presumed) top six Best Picture nominees at the very top. But it's nice to see lesser discussed titles like End of Watch and Oslo August 31st getting their due.
In Contention details a prestigious win that I didn't know about for the French film Farewell My Queen, one of my favorites
IMDb the most pirated movie of 2012 was... Project X. Huh. 


NPR ooh, I missed this interview earlier in the year. Doris Day reflecting on her life and career 
The Guardian here's a fun top ten list if you're feeling that new holiday weight: the best onscreen personal trainers from Mr Miyagi (The Karate Kid) to Pai Mei (Kill Bill)
/Film Test footage for animation/live action hybrid crimes against my childhood: Hong Kong Phooey and Marvin the Martian 

Les Línkables
Vulture Kyle and Amanda argue over Les Misérables with a side of Disneyland
Kelli Marshall pummels considers Les Miz of which she is (previously) a fan
The New Yorker on the consistent greatness of the property and "a continuity of culture" in which the old stories can still be the best
Guardian looks back on Tom Hooper's career. I always forget that the much-loathed director (at least on the internet) made so many wildly acclaimed TV films before moving to the big screen
International Business Times reports that the soundtrack is selling briskly -- I received mine yesterday (thanks Universal peeps!) -- and looks back at the most popular film soundtracks ever. Speaking of which...
Atlantic Wire the music is stuck in our heads forever... again.

Pretty soon everyone will be humming "One Day More" or "Master of the House" and will not be able to stop, and there will be nowhere to escape it. We will all become Les Mis zombies like it's the '80s or something. It might be fun for the first few days, communal and all that, but after a couple of weeks, we'll all be wishing for the same sweet sickness that sent Fantine to heaven.

It's true. Just yesterday I sang the most amazing Les Miz MegaMix in the shower.


Click on the photo if you missed my earlier post on Zero Dark's screenplay

Today's Must Read
Salon Andrew O'Hehir has written the piece on Zero Dark Thirty I've been longing to read. This provocative essay looks at all sides of the argument and the confusing evasions of Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow, and doesn't retreat to the frustrating polarized agendas we've been reading like "it's Reifenstahl-level evil and totally pro-torture!" or "people who think so aren't paying any attention" (Subtext: it just can't be pro-torture because I've already expressed my love for it and what does that say about me?!?)

Friday
Dec212012

Screenplays of '12. Page 12. "Zero Dark Thirty"

New daily! I'll be sharing page 12 of every screenplay I've received for 2012 Films. With commentary!

The following scene stars Jason Clarke as "bad news" Daniel who has surprisingly not been getting much Supporting Actor buzz despite shooting off unmissable 'next big thing' vibes and Reda Kateb* as his tortured prisoner Ammar. I've drawn a little storyboard for you since the studio hasn't released any stills from this particular scene.  

INT. MAYA'S APARTMENT - ISLAMABAD

The loud WAILING of the early morning call to prayer from the loudspeakers of a nearby mosque wakes Maya on the couch.

CUT TO:

INT. BLACK SITE - AFTERNOON

Daniel and the guards enter Ammar's cel with Maya. Daniel switches on the floodlights, awakening Ammar.

                    DANIEL
Let's take it easy today, huh?

Daniel hands Ammar a bottle of orange juice and a bag of falalfel.

                    DANIEL (CONT'D)
Hungry? The food in here sucks so I
got you some of this.

more scene and commentary after the jump...

Click to read more ...