Randee Dawn is an AwardsLine contributor.
What makes a scene Oscar-worthy is difficult to define, but everyone knows it when they see it. It’s an end as foreboding as they come. Cate Blanchett, mesmerizing as the title character in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, sits in a disheveled mess on a park bench in San Francisco, muttering to herself. It’s the nadir of Jasmine’s fall from grace, her first step on the ladder to bag-lady land. “That scene” is how it’s known in the business, the one that crystallizes everything about a character or a story and through which the actor surrenders to the part with everything he or she’s got. It’s a scene that when a viewer sees it, they know: This is a nomination, or an Academy Award, waiting to happen. Having “that scene” guarantees neither award nor nomination, and many roles win big prizes without one. But when a good scene arises, it can become an iconic piece of cinema. Read More »
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with host David Bloom about which films and performers got an Oscar bump out of the WGA, Annie and Cinematographers awards shows this past Saturday; check in on the Santa Barbara film festival’s celebration of Cate Blanchett and whether the controversy over her Blue Jasmine director in will spill over into the Oscar race; dissect the Academy’s defense of its de-nomination of “Alone Yet Not Alone” in the face of complaints by, particularly, religious and conservative critics; and discuss the highlights of Pete’s sit-down with Julia Roberts this week to discuss her supporting actress Oscar nomination for “August: Osage County.”
We’ll also get Pete’s take on the week’s notable movie debuts, including the true and likable WWII story The Monuments Men, directed by and starring George Clooney with a big-name cast, and The Lego Movie, a fast-moving and smart animated film that Pete suggests could be in the Oscar hunt a year from now.
You can listen to the podcast in your choice of formats here:
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 62 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 62 (.M4A version)
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Studio chairmen and their marketing and distribution executives were meeting across town today talking about their future plans for their Best Picture Oscar films. And all have the same marching orders: Get the pictures nearing the end of their runs back into the nation’s theaters ASAP. To that end, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave, and Captain Phillips are adding theaters (some more than others), and those already in their runs — August: Osage County and Philomena are all getting big adds over the next two weeks (some more than others). Not all can take advantage of the noms as some films are way past their theatrical runs, but even a film like Blue Jasmine, which bowed this past summer and is headed to DVD next Tuesday, will add a tiny number of theaters.
Related: OSCARS: Academy Chooses Strong Field, But Who Will Take The Gold?
The addition to the box office after a nom can be significant. The Artist was at $12.3M going into the nominations, and before it won its Best Picture it did another $19.5M. After the win, it made another $13M. The King’s Speech was at $58M prior to the nomination but grossed another $56M before Oscar night and another $25M after it won the big prize. The same holds true for Million Dollar Baby, which was at $8.8M when Oscar noms hit, made another $56.3M during the window between Oscar night and walked away not only with the Best Picture Oscar but tucked away another $36M at the box office afterward.
Related: OSCARS: 86th Academy Award Nominations
Warner Bros’ Gravity, which is at the end of its theatrical run having been released at the beginning of October, already has grossed a whopping $675M worldwide (thanks to former exec Jeff Robinov for pushing it through) and will be in 944 theaters this weekend. Its other Oscar-nominated picture Her is holding steady as she goes. “We’re thrilled that our pictures have gotten the recognition that they have,” said Warners head of distribution Dan Fellman. “We’re pleased that Her has gotten the recognition that we think it deserves. It’s great to see the film recognized.” Fellman said that they are not changing the strategy for the Spike Jonze picture. (That’s not surprising as it was a well-though-out distribution plan; WB guys are pros.)
Related: OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy?
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For almost 20 years, Letty Aronson has been producing the films of her big brother, Woody Allen: She worries about the commercial concerns while Allen focuses on the creative. Their partnership is such a well-oiled machine that Aronson admits, “I’m so used to the way he works, it always bothers me when someone else doesn’t work that way.” Aronson got her start as a producer working with Jean Doumanian, then took over producing Allen’s films after his working relationship with Doumanian ended in a bitter legal battle. Since then, she’s kept up Allen’s pace of making a film a year, and earned her first Oscar nomination for 2011’s Midnight In Paris. Aronson’s most recent production is Blue Jasmine, which has been a hit at the box office and has given Cate Blanchett frontrunner status for a best actress Oscar.
Related: OSCARS: Ballots Are Out And The Race Is On, But Will Voters See The Movies In Time?
AwardsLine: Has it gotten any easier to finance the films you produce, especially considering the strength of Woody Allen as a brand?
Letty Aronson: Not really. (Laughs.) Except for independent financiers in this country, we get no money from any studio, not even a discussion. After all the hullabaloo of Midnight In Paris, I didn’t get one call from any studio. But I can understand that because they don’t work the way we work. In going out and looking for money, I tell people right up front: They can’t read the script; they don’t have input into the cast; they don’t see dailies; they don’t see a rough cut. They’re really investing in Woody and his reputation. They’re not going to make hundreds of millions of dollars, either. We’re low risk, low reward. The studios don’t work that way, but in Europe, there’s never been a studio system. It’s really always been independent financiers. So it’s easier to go there (with) all these different rules and get money. We don’t want to spend a lot on the films because we would like to pay our investors back. For some, we put together a three-picture deal. If we don’t know the people, I don’t love putting together a three-picture deal because who knows if we’ll like working with them after the first picture? But it’s not any easier. A film like Blue Jasmine, which got the most spectacular reviews, is up to almost $34 million in this country. Now another film without Woody’s name on it that got those kind of reviews would earn three times that much. Read More »
In this special holiday edition of our Deadline Awards Watch podcast, Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett. Pete’s interview with Cooper, recorded early in the year, touches on Cooper’s work in The Place Beyond The Pines. Cooper also shares thoughts on doing his own stunts, learning to be a cop and the best thing about awards season a year after his breakout performance in 2012′s Silver Linings Playbook. Cooper also talks about reteaming with Silver Linings director David O. Russell for American Hustle, and his upcoming projects with directors Cameron Crowe and Steven Spielberg.
Pete also talks with Blanchett about her work in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. She talks about the “absurdity and tragedy” in every scene of Allen’s film, which has had more box office success than any in his long career, and discusses the differences between the “not verbose” Allen, Peter Jackson on The Hobbit trilogy and Terence Malick on multiple projects. She also talks about creating a character who’s very much like Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, and the challenges of balancing a career on film and on stage, including running a theater company with her husband, with the demands of raising young children.
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 57 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 57 (.M4A version)
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It continues to be a good week for American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Her, Captain Phillips, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska. All followed up yesterday’s Producers Guild nominations with WGA noms this morning, making it 2-for-2 in the early guild contests of this new year. The WGA also gave a much-needed shot of adrenaline to August: Osage County, which was bypassed by the PGA but had three SAG nominations earlier and now an adapted screenplay bid for Tracy Letts that keeps it alive. But the news continues to be bad for the Coen brothers, who are usually awards darlings.
Related: An Early Look At A Crowded Best Picture Oscar Race
After being snubbed by SAG and yesterday’s PGA announcement, the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis also was bypassed by the WGA, even though it was eligible to be nominated for Original Screenplay. That’s the biggest surprise of the day. (Read the full list of WGA Awards nominees below.) Writers have loved their work in the past. Since the guilds often closely parallel Oscar nominations and have many of the same members, it does not bode well for the chances of the CBS Films release, which started the season by winning the Grand Prize (2nd) at Cannes but has not gotten much traction since. One source close to the film’s campaign told me this morning they think Inside Llewyn Davis will fare better under the more specialized Academy preferential voting system as opposed to the popularity contests of the guilds. Passionate fans of the film will have a better chance to be heard by giving it first-place votes.
Related: Will Critics & Precursor Awards Carry More Weight In A Jam-Packed Year?
Among other films eligible under WGA rules but omitted from the list: Nicole Holofcener’s most acclaimed film to date, Enough Said, was overlooked for Original Screenplay — a surprise given that the WGA nominated her previous film, Please Give, in 2010. Danny Strong’s ambitious script for Lee Daniels’ The Butler also missed the cut as it the film itself did at PGA and the Golden Globes. It is nominated for three SAG awards. And Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron’s original script for one of Oscar’s front-runners, Gravity, failed to impress the writers, who perhaps saw it as more of a technical achievement. Warner Bros has been trying to change that perception and has widely circulated the intricate and complex script but to no avail, at least as far as the WGA is concerned.
Related: Year-End: How A Growing Global Mandate And Franchise Fever Led To Movie Studio Tsuris
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It seems Cate Blanchett can do it all. She has played the Queen of England (Elizabeth I in Elizabeth) as well as the Queen of Hollywood (Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator), for which she earned a supporting actress Oscar. But it wasn’t until this year that a cinematic match made in heaven occurred when Woody Allen rang her up and asked her to be in one of his films. Their pairing in Blue Jasmine does not disappoint. As a tragic victim of her own excessive lifestyle, Blanchett is heartbreakingly real and complex, a modern-day Blanche DuBois, but so much more. The role has won her critical raves and she has remained at the top of every Oscar pundit’s best actress list since the movie was released in July. In fact today she won the New York Film Critics Circles Best Actress award for the role. With Allen’s record of directing actors to Oscars and Blanchett’s fiercely sad and funny performance, it’s a good bet she will stay on top on those lists all the way through March.
Related: New York Film Critics Circle Awards Winners
AwardsLine: What was it about the role in Blue Jasmine that clicked for you?
Cate Blanchett: Where to start? When you get the call, you’ve already said yes before you’ve even read the script because of (Woody Allen’s) body of work and his sensibility, the opportunities he provides for actors and ensembles. I was won over by the absurdity and the tragedy that exists in pretty much every scene. It’s a portrait of a breakdown in many ways, but it’s also a story (about) people having relationships based on exteriors rather than what’s going on internally.
Related: Santa Barbara To Honor Cate Blanchett As Performer Of The Year
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The one thing that really matters in a successful Oscar run is momentum: Who has it and who lost it. It’s a tricky maneuver for movies to grab it, and more importantly, keep it going in a very long season that can start as early as May at the Cannes Film Festival. One studio head cornered me at a recent event and said, “Anyone who thinks they can go to Cannes and keep their film on ice for four months is kidding themselves.” This executive has turned down opportunities to take a major film to Cannes for that very reason. It is simply too hard to maintain the forward movement that long, he explained. In the case of movies that play the world’s most famous film festival in May but hold back their release until fall, it’s challenging to recapture the magic.
Two recent examples are Paramount’s Nebraska, which played Cannes but didn’t open domestically until November 15, six months after its initial reviews came out; and the Coen brothers’ Cannes Grand Prize winner Inside Llewyn Davis, which doesn’t open in the U.S. until December 6. This same executive, who works for a rival studio, didn’t think either film could possibly keep the buzz on their side that long after Cannes. Read More »
Oscar winner Cate Blanchett will receive the Santa Barbara International Film Festival‘s 2014 Outstanding Performer of the Year Award for her performance in Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine on Saturday February 1. She’ll be honored during the 29th edition of the fest which runs January 30-February 9. “In her first collaboration with master director Woody Allen, Blanchett knocks it out of the park in the best performance of her already illustrious career,“ said Roger Durling, SBIFF Executive Director. “We’re so grateful to be able to celebrate her achievement.” In Blue Jasmine Blanchett portrays Jasmine French, a deeply conflicted and complex woman in the throes of her world unraveling. Her compelling performance generated early Oscar buzz for the film since its limited debut in July. Read the release here: Read More »
Thanks to two smoking scenes in his Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen pulled the film’s India release over the weekend rather than allow government-mandated anti-smoking warnings to be inserted onscreen during scenes when characters light … Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
It was all about Fox Searchlight’s Enough Said in the Specialty Box Office. The feature directed by Nicole Holofcener starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini easily scored the weekend’s highest numbers, taking in $240K in 4 theaters for a $60K average. That is one of the highest PSAs of the year among limited-release titles and a career high for Holofcener. Her previous film, Please Give, opened in April 2010 in 5 theaters, averaging $23,625, while Friends With Money (April 2006) had a $21,047 PSA though that film bowed with 28 runs. It went on to cume over $13.3 million.
The average gives Enough Said bragging rights as one of the year’s best specialty openers, though the likes of Blue Jasmine ($102K average in 6 theaters), Spring Breakers ($87,667 in three theaters) and The Place Beyond The Pines ($69,864 in 4 theaters) remain at the top in terms of opening-weekend averages. Searchlight was naturally happy with the weekend results, noting the film has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and heaped praise on the filmmaker and cast. “Audiences have been waiting for a well-written film for adults, and besides Nicole’s core audience, she seems to be reaching a new set of moviegoers who are discovering and appreciating her work,” the distributor said. “We are very happy with the outstanding opening weekend grosses, and while we knew all along that we would do well at the box office, these figures are beyond our wildest expectations.” The company will expand Enough Said to 65 new markets on Friday, while widening in NY and LA. It will head to 180-220 locations.
Roadside/Lionsgate’s Thanks For Sharing had the weekend’s biggest release, opening in 269 theaters and capitalizing on the film’s cast of recognizable names including Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Pink and Tim Robbins. The offering proved less than addictive, however, with a $2,255 average and a weekend gross over $607K. Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
The Grandmaster battled its way to the top of the Specialty Box Office in its first weekend, targeting the art house crowd though the film by celebrated Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai is headed for a wider release next week. The martial arts feature starring Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi grossed over $132K, averaging $18,894, making it the weekend’s top PSA title and out-performing the debut of the filmmaker’s previous release, My Blueberry Nights. That film grossed over $74K in 6 theaters in April 2008, averaging just $12,357. It went on to cume just $867K domestically. But Grandmaster fell short of 2046, Wong’s 2005 feature which opened in 4 theaters also in August of that year. That film, also starring Zhang, grossed just over $113K for a $28,268 average.
The Grandmaster itself evolved since screening for hometown audiences, shaving off 22 minutes by the time it hit screens this weekend and, according to TWC, a more linear telling of the story about Ip Man, the martial artist who trained Bruce Lee. TWC is confident the feature will cross over to a wider audience and is planning a significant expansion into Labor Day weekend.
“There is substantial action that will appeal to a wider audience,” said Weinstein president of Theatrical Distribution Erik Lomis. “It [is in] upscale theaters the first weekend and then will broaden out to suburban theaters.” The Grandmaster will head to 500 to 600 theaters next weekend, making it one of the largest foreign-language releases of the year. The film has grossed $55 million overseas to date.
SXSW Film Festival narrative winner Short Term 12 starring Brie Larson and John Gallagher bowed in 4 runs over the weekend. The film by Destin Cretton charmed audiences at SXSW, winning the Audience Award in addition to the top Jury Prize. It also received an acting award for Larson at the recent Locarno Film Festival. And in theaters, it grossed over $60K for a PSA just over $15K. Not a smash, but the film carried some momentum from its festival word of mouth. Read More »
The latest Woody Allen film will grow in screens from 229 to more than 1200 nationwide this weekend, the studio said today, making it Allen’s most widely released film surpassing 2011′s Midnight In Paris. Blue Jasmine has grossed … Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Sundance screenwriting award-winner In A World…, by director/writer/star Lake Bell, reigned over the Specialty Box Office this weekend, which also showed a strong number from a Bollywood title. Roadside Attractions‘ World opened in three L.A. and NYC theaters, grossing nearly $71K and averaging $23,660.
Roadside noted the title received an 86% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes Sunday, touting its weekend numbers. Said Roadside’s Howard Cohen reporting numbers today: “Lake Bell did a large amount of TV, online and print interviews and got wide coverage for her Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award-winning comedy that she starred in, directed and wrote. Next week we expand into 8 new top markets and expect to be in the range of 25 screens, with further expansion in following weeks.”
Indian film Chennai Express also curried favor with North American audiences this weekend, rising atop the Specialty box office in an otherwise banal three days for limited release cinematic newcomers. Touted by its U.S. distributor UTV Communications earlier this week as “one of the most anticipated Indian film” in recent memory, the film debuted in what it described as one of the largest rollouts ever in North America for a film hailing from the subcontinent. In 196 theaters, the feature by powerhouse Indian director Rohit Shetty and star Shah Rukh Khan grossed $2.225 million for a $11,352 average. Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
A24‘s The Spectacular Now brought zest to the Specialty Box Office in the dog days of summer, opening with a $50K-plus average in 4 locations. The film bowed … Read More »
Listen to (and share) episode 37 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about the Motion Picture Academy’s groundbreaking insider of a new president; Academy voter relief that Woody Allen is finally going Blue; an August full of Emmy voting and the weekend’s movie debuts, including action comedy 2 Guns and the hybrid animated-live action sequel The Smurfs 2.
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 37, (MP3 format)
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Sony Pictures Classics is bumping up the Richard Linklater relationship sequel after a fruitful two month run. The pic has taken in $7.7M domestic and $10.6M globally so far, besting box office grosses … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off an acclaimed performance in Woody Allen’s new film Blue Jasmine, Andrew Dice Clay has signed with Resolution. The agency will try to help him capitalize on a surprise breakout performance in Jasmine, which this … Read More »