Conventional wisdom is that Best Picture Oscar winners enjoy a 35% bump in theatrical grosses for the week after the show. But today Rentrak announced which titles had the largest box office growth since nominations were announced on January 10. Sure, Argo took home the gold. But Sony Pictures Classics’ Amour experienced a 1,250% increase and Annapurna Pictures/Sony Pictures’ Zero Dark Thirty earned a 1,570% increase. Rentrak numbers below include gross domestic totals from Sunday, January 6 (before nominations were announced on January 10) until Sunday for all nine Best Picture rivals:
Considered by many a foregone conclusion coming into tonight, the Academy showed its love for Michael Haneke’s Amour with the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The film was nominated in five categories total, including the rare double bill of a Best Picture and a Best Foreign Language nod (only the fifth film in history to achieve such a feat). Lead actress Emmanuelle Riva, who turned 86 today, was the oldest woman ever to be nominated in the category and would have made further history had she won tonight. Earlier this season, she won the César, the BAFTA and several critics group prizes.
Amour‘s heartrending love story about an aging couple had already won scores of awards before this evening, beginning with the Cannes Palme d’Or when it debuted on the Riviera last May — supporting Haneke in the audience tonight and seated next to Amour producer Margaret Ménégoz was Cannes Film Festival honcho Thierry Frémaux. (Had Amour won Best Picture, it would have been the first film to earn that honor and Cannes’ top prize since 1955′s Marty.) After Cannes, the pic went on to take Best Picture honors from the National Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics, the European Film Awards and France’s Césars plus Foreign Language props from the Broadcast Film Critics, the New York Film Critics, the National Board of Review, the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and the Indie Spirits, among many others.
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Holdovers held sway in the specialty arena on an otherwise quiet Oscars weekend. Best Foreign Language contender No starring Gael García Bernal added two theaters in its second weekend, averaging a stellar $13,726. The Chilean entry is expected to Sony Pictures Classics’ competing nominee Amour, however which continues its momentum at the box office (and in the awards department after yesterday’s best foreign feature win at the Independent Spirit Awards). In its 10th weekend, SPC added 22 locations for Amour, averaging $2,489 and bringing its cume to just under $5.25 million. Sundance Selects’ second weekend holdover Like Someone In Love added 6 theaters, averaging $2,542. The film averaged $7,615 at its debut but its second weekend number out-shined Sundance Selects’ Oscar Weekend opener Inescapable, which grossed a paltry $721 in two theaters. Tribeca Film opened a double-billing of Alex Karpovsky’s Rubberneck and Red Flag at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in New York, grossing $4,150.
Oscar-nominated Amour filmmaker Michael Haneke has won two Cannes Palmes d’Or and yet never taken home a César Award. Tonight, that was rectified in spades when Amour took the Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Original Screenplay Césars at Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet. Jacques Audiard’s Rust & Bone was also a big winner at France’s equivalent to the Oscars with four prizes including Adapted Screenplay. Shut out was Noémie Lvovsky’s Camille Redouble which was the most-nominated film by the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma coming into the party. Ben Affleck’s Argo was named Best Foreign Film.
Amour producer Margaret Menegoz first accepted the Original Screenplay prize for Haneke, who is expected in L.A. tomorrow, saying “Michael is enchanted, flattered and full of happiness that this academy that represents the most emotive of cinemas, has finally recognized him as one of their own.”
Emmanuelle Riva, who is up for a Best Actress Oscar on Sunday and the oldest woman ever to have that distinction, was in Paris to accept her César for Amour. Following a standing ovation, she said, “I worked on this film with great passion and I am very lucky at this hour or my life” to come across such a “wonder” of a subject that is “so close to all of us. This is the first time I have received a César and I thank everyone.” When she tried to pick up her César and walk offstage, she had to hand the trophy off, “It’s heavier than I am!” Riva’s partner in Amour, Jean-Louis Trintignant was not present for his win as Best Actor. But his son mounted the stage to accept the prize and promptly called his dad in Brussels where the actor was performing a play. From the speaker phone on his son’s cell, Trintignant said, “Thank you everyone who voted for me and those who didn’t vote for me because the others are good too. I’m a bit emotional, kisses to everyone.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: Oscar Nominees ‘War Witch’ & ‘Buzkashi Boys’ In LA, New 007 Novel, French Critics ♥ ‘Amour’, & More
‘War Witch’ Actress Granted Visa For Oscars
Rachel Mwanza, who won best actress prizes in Berlin and Tribeca last year for her lead performance in War Witch, has been granted a visa to travel from Congo to North America in order to attend the Oscars on Sunday and other awards shows. War Witch is nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Mwanza was a non-pro when she was discovered living on the streets of Kinshasa and was cast in the movie about a 12-year-old girl who is kidnapped by African rebels, forced to kill her parents at gunpoint and then fight as a child soldier against the government. According to Tribeca Film, which acquired War Witch for North America, the filmmakers continue to provide her with a caregiver and oversee her education. The film is directed by Kim Nguyen is also nominated as Best International Film at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards, has 12 nominations for Canadian Screen Awards on March 3 and 9 nominations for Québec’s Jutras on March 17. Tribeca is platforming the film starting March 1 in New York, then March 8 in Los Angeles and in select cities thereafter. It will be available VOD from February 26.
Afghan ‘Buzkashi Boys’ Arrive In LA For Oscars
After an Internet campaign raised money for expenses and Turkish Air Lines donated tickets for them and a shaperone, the two teenage stars of the Oscar-nominated short film from Afghanistan arrived in Los Angeles today. The 28-minute film is the first to be produced by the Afghan Film Project, a non-profit that aims to train filmmakers in Afghanistan. It focuses on two children growing up in Kabul who dream of becoming Buzkashi riders, horsemen who compete in the dangerous Afghan national sport similar to polo in which riders try to carry a headless goat across a goal line. The film earned U.S. director Sam French a nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. Producers said they launched the campaign because they lacked a travel budget for Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz, who will attend the Oscars Sunday night.
When it comes to Oscar savvy we often hear Harvey Weinstein talked about as the kingpin of the game, but when you look at the success of Sony Pictures Classics you realize it rivals Weinstein, Searchlight, Focus and other comers in consistently, and annually, releasing and nurturing one contender after another in the quest for the elusive statuette of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Since the company was founded in December 1991, key to its success has been its co-Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard who first worked together in similar specialty divisions at United Artists and Orion and now continue to run one of the most stable indie shops in the industry. But with a total of 25 Oscar wins and 109 nominations just at SPC they clearly have the Midas touch, and that includes a slew of Best Picture nominations for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (their biggest hit to date), Howard’s End, Capote, An Education, Midnight In Paris and this year’s Amour which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes and has amassed five Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film, only the fifth film in Academy history to be named in both categories. With writing and directing nods for Michael Haneke as well as a realistic Best Actress bid for star Emmanuelle Riva the film looks to be another strong contender for the pair who continue to be one of the few high profile companies that still champions foreign language films. SPC serves up a wide variety of specialty fare of all types and always seems to find a footing in the Oscar race which has become an important part of their business plan. With two contenders for Best Documentary and two for Best Foreign Language Film in addition to the Best Picture bid, the pair are fixtures at every major film festival and are once again making lots of noise in their high season. I spoke to both late last week about the upcoming Oscars and what it means to their bottom line.
Deadline: How important is this Oscar business to the actual business of Sony Pictures Classics?
Bernard: It’s part of the business for Sony Pictures Classics because we can get movies, or have movies, that won’t get the recognition that they deserve any other way. And if they get that recognition what we have found is that the boxoffice and ancillary and profits of these movies get much better. We can go all the way back to Camille Claudel when we had Isabelle Adjani and somebody close to her suggested that you should run a campaign for her for Best Actress and we said ‘it will never happen, no one will watch the movie. We can’t get them to the theatre. And the person said ‘well why don’t you send out VHS cassettes to the Academy’ so we did and sent them to the actors branch and lo and behold we got a nomination. And it took that movie to a level it would have never gotten if it didn’t happen.
As the industry kicks into full awards mode, with one guild after another handing out trophies to whomever they consider the year’s best in any given field, it’s become increasingly clear this is a year like we have not seen in a while. Certainly every season we go through this ritual of watching the crème de la crème of the industry line up to get awards, but rarely have we seen as dense a field of top contenders, and especially deserving ones, as we have this year. The common denominator among most, if not all, of the contenders in Oscar’s 24 categories is how difficult it was in the first place to get any of these films made in a sequel-happy, franchise-loving, play-it-safe motion picture industry.
For example, Steven Spielberg began talking about Lincoln with Doris Kearns Goodwin before she started writing the book and struggled for well over a decade to bring it to the screen, getting turned down by three studios in the process. And first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin went against all industry norms to make the unique and hard-to-define Beasts Of The Southern Wild come to life. But no matter who the filmmaker is, the most often-heard mantra is stick to your core beliefs and vision and somehow an Oscar-worthy film can be willed into being. Even James Bond ran into trouble when MGM went bankrupt and a normal 2½-year process turned into twice that for Skyfall, which went on to win five Oscar nominations. It also got recognition as one of the year’s best pictures from the Producers Guild, as well it should, considering what its veteran producers went through to just to make it.
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
In an otherwise unremarkable 2013 for specialty releases, Sony Pictures Classics has one of two films that have become mainstays among specialty releases with its multiple Oscar nominee Amour (the other is The Weinstein Company‘s Quartet). The distributor also scored solidly on The Gatekeepers with more than $152K in three theaters for the documentary’s first two weekends. Next up is this weekend’s bow of the Chilean feature simply titled No starring Gael García Bernal, which is also up for an Oscar in the foreign-language film category. IFC Films’ Sundance Select is taking on Iranian-born director Abbas Kiarostami’s latest, Like Someone In Love, hoping to repeat the success it had with his previous film it released Stateside, Certified Copy. IFC Films is doing a limited theatrical along with day and date VOD for doc/narrative hybrid The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, which screened at last year’s SXSW Film Festival. After initially making a narrative, the filmmaking team decided to add material for an unconventional approach.
Director-writer Pablo Larraín (screenplay)
Writer: Antonio Skármeta (play)
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
The Chilean film with the simple title, No, refers to the straightforward advertising campaign masterminded by an ad executive to defeat the South American country’s longtime dictator Augusto Pinochet in a 1988 referendum. Starring Mexican-born actor Gael García Bernal, the film was praised at festival showings at Cannes, New York Film Festival and Sundance and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. “We hoped it would be entered by Chile and it was and we hoped it would get nominated and it did,” Michael Barker said from the Berlin International Film Festival. “And we’re relieved it didn’t open last weekend with the big snowstorm.”
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor
If one thing links all five of this year’s nominees for the foreign film Oscar, it’s that the director of each picture was driven to make his movie because of strong, deeply personal feelings. These five films — a varied batch if ever there was one — have nothing in common in terms of where and when they are set, but they all deal, unapologetically, with powerful emotions. And those feelings are expressed not only by the characters in these films but also by their creators.
Perhaps the most obviously personal is Michael Haneke’s Amour, which achieved the rare feat of earning best picture and director noms, as well. The film has been cited for, among other things, its unblinking look at the degradations inflicted by illness on an aged couple. The German-born writer-director says that his recollections of a beloved aunt’s increasing infirmity inspired him to make the film. “I was forced to look on as someone very close to me suffered, someone for whom I cared very much”, he says, noting that the specifics of his aunt’s condition were not replicated in the movie. “What’s shown in the film is the product of lengthy research and my imagination”.
Yet one especially chilling aspect of his aunt’s situation — her asking him to assist in her suicide — was strongly echoed in the film. “Of course I had to tell her I was unable to do it”, Haneke recalls, “because I would have been put in jail if I had done it. I was grateful for that alibi, for I don’t know if I would have had the strength to do it otherwise. But she did it anyway, without my help”.
Asked whether he himself — now age 70 — worries about a fate similar to that faced by the principal characters in Amour (portrayed with uncanny and moving effect by octogenarians Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, who earned a best actress nomination for the role), Haneke responds wryly and invokes another, very different, master filmmaker. “Billy Wilder was asked a similar question”, Haneke says, “and he responded by saying that the bombardments, so to speak, are coming ever closer”.
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor
Though his films might lead you to believe otherwise, Michael Haneke is surprisingly good-humored in conversation. His latest film, Amour, is nominated for five Oscars: best picture, foreign-language film, …
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Specialty film newcomers remain sparse this weekend, while two stalwart limited-release box office stars — Amour and Quartet — will continue their expansions. Golden Globe-nominated (for The Sessions) John Hawkes stars in The Playroom with Jonathan Brooks, Alexandra Doke and Olivia Harris. The story centers on four children who take to their attic hideaway and make up a fantastic story, while downstairs their parents weave a drunken intrigue of their own. Hawkes learned of his nomination while making this movie which has been available via iTunes. And war thriller Lore takes a look at the Holocaust through a unique story of about a girl who leads her siblings on a journey of “truth” about their parents’ beliefs.
Director: Julia Dyer
Writer: Gretchen Dyer
Cast: John Hawkes, Molly Parker, Olivia Harris, Jonathan Brooks, Cody Linley
Theatrical Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
All hailing from the same family, The Playroom producer Stephen Dyer, director Julia Dyer and writer Gretchen Dyer were the collective force behind the feature that endured multiple setbacks including health problems that lead to the death of Gretchen Dyer in 2009. Originally slated to star, Hayden Panattiere exited. “But something we had was John [Hawkes],” said Stephen Dyer. “This was before [his Oscar-nominated role in] Winter’s Bone, and Julia had a passion to have this made for Gretchen.” The project received a shot in the arm when the filmmaking team found “a perfect ’70s house” as its main location, which gave the production some freedom to concentrate on other areas of development. “It was a house we played in in the ’70s,” said Dyer. “Somehow the light went on in Julia’s head and we re-worked the script a bit to fit the architecture of the house.”
The second in a three-part series in which AwardsLine breaks down all nine of the best picture contenders.
What the Academy says: 8 nominations (Picture: Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon; Directing: David O. Russell; Lead Actor: Bradley Cooper; Lead Actress: Jennifer Lawrence; Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro; Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver; Film Editing: Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers; Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell)
What the public says: $71.4M domestic boxoffice; $19.8M international (as of Feb. 1)
What Pete Hammond says: Because it is a comedy, albeit one laced with drama, Silver Linings Playbook is at a disadvantage right out of the starting gate because comedies don’t traditionally win best picture Oscars. But this critically acclaimed story about two broken people who are trying to get their lives back together benefits from a passionate base of admirers, and that’s key
With less than a month to go, the stage is set for one of the strangest Oscar showdowns in memory. Certainly the season started with some clear favorites emerging, like Argo at Telluride, Silver Linings Playbook at Toronto, then Lincoln just after the election, followed by Life Of Pi. I thought Paramount’s Flight also might emerge as a major best picture contender around this time, but when critics awards and early nominations for Globes and CCMAs started coming in, it was clear this was mainly just a play for Denzel Washington and John Gatins’ original screenplay. At Christmas time, we got Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and the hotly anticipated Les Misérables to complete our seven-pack of best picture contenders. What many weren’t anticipating was that two small indie films that made a splash earlier in the year were also going to come in. Beasts Of The Southern Wild managed to hold on to all that momentum from its Sundance debut a year ago, and then
Specialty B.O.: ‘John Dies At The End’, ‘Happy People’, ‘Yossi’ Bow So-So, Holdovers ‘Amour’, ‘Quartet’ Solid
Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.
Marquee specialty newcomers were at a minimum this weekend, continuing a pattern that began with the New Year. Among the limited release debuts reporting Sunday, both Happy People: A Year In The Taiga from Werner Herzog and Israeli director Eytan Fox’s Yossi reported fair openings, while Magnolia Pictures’ John Dies At The End showed more momentum in its LA debut at one location with $13,500 making it the top opener among the specialties. Music Box Films’ Happy People opened at IFC Center in New York, grossing $9,882, while Strand Releasing’s Yossi bowed in two cinemas, taking in $13,208 for a $6,604 average. Among holdovers, Indomina’s LUV subtracted 24 theaters in the film’s second weekend, grossing $18K for a slight $857 average. Oscar hopeful Amour meanwhile held solid in another expansion and TWC’s Quartet also held robust numbers after adding 131 theaters. IFC Films’ Knife Fight, starring Rob Lowe as a poltical strategist, split $1,200 for the weekend between two theaters in LA and New York.
Siberian-set documentary Happy People: A Year In The Taiga bowed at NYC’s IFC Center with a so-so $9,882 that single location. Werner Herzog is a giant among documentary filmmakers, but the film, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in 2010, opened theatrically over the weekend in the shadow of the Oscar-nominated filmmaker’s 2011 release Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, which opened with an average of $27,820 in five theaters, though his Into The Abyss – also a 2011 release — only totaled $223,880 domestically. Music Box Films will add six markets including Los Angeles on February 15th and will expand to Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, D.C., and San Diego on February 22.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Producers Branch Executive Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has determined the individual nominees for “Amour” in the Best Picture category for the Oscars. They are producers Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt,