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OSCARS: Best Picture Titles Best Holds This Weekend At Box Office

Oscar_badgeThe best holds going into the Oscar weekend in the Top 20 at the box office are, as expected, those films nominated for Best Picture. There are two things that traditionally happen at the box office right before the Academy Awards. Oscars 2014 - Unsung HeroesOscars 2014 - Unsung HeroesFirst, all the nominated films still playing receive a bump the weekend before and of the Awards show. And secondly, overall, movie going for the older female demographic drops slightly on Sunday (around 15%). The result for all grosses is negligible, however.

12 Years A SlaveOf the titles still playing in the top 20, 12 Years a Slave has far and above the best hold weekend to weekend, up 70% for Fox Searchlight. Kudos to Frank Rodriguez at FSL and all of these distribution executives who we have watched week to week deftly handling these pictures. Sony/Annapurna’s American Hustle held strong with a 6% increase (thanks to Jeff Blake and Rory Bruer) and Philomena was up 3% (Erik Lomis at TWC). All added theaters. Of those that shed theaters, Warner Bros.’ Gravity (Dan Fellman and Jeff Goldstein) and Paramount/Red Granite’s The Wolf of Wall Street (distrib head Don Harris) had only slight declines of … Read More »

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BOX OFFICE: Oscar Nominated Best Pictures, How They’re Faring

oscar__130923143016__131213223904The Oscar nominated best pictures still in the theaters are holding well the last weekend before the Academy Awards. Most are at the end or nearing the end of their runs. Those distributors who re-released their films or upped the number of theaters post-nomination did receive nice bumps to add to their overall cumes. This is the last weekend before the Academy Awards, so traditionally the Oscar-nominated films still in theaters usually see rock solid numbers as moviegoers venture out to see them before the show. Last year’s Oscars brought in 40.3M viewers. Here is how they all look to play out this weekend and their overall cumes based on Saturday morning estimates:

12). American Hustle (SONY), 903 theaters / 3-day cume: $1.8M / Total cume: $144M+ / Wk 11

14). The Wolf of Wall Street (PAR), 627 theaters / 3-day cume: $1.3M / Total cume: $112.8M / Wk 9

15). Philomena (TWC), theaters / 3-day cume: $1.2M / Total cume: $32.7M / Wk 14

17). Gravity (WB), 348 theaters / 3-day cume: $914K / Total cume: $269.3M / Wk 21

20). 12 Years a Slave (FSL),  349 theaters / 3-day cume: $493K / Total cume: $49M / Wk 19 Read More »

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OSCARS: Editor Christopher Rouse Became ‘Captain Phillips’ First Mate

By | Monday February 17, 2014 @ 8:07pm PST

LR-Christopher-Rouse“It seems to me the potential benefits of an editor’s early participation [in a project] could be creatively and fiscally significant,” notes Christopher Rouse, who is Oscar-nominated for Best Achievement in Editing for Captain Phillips. Director Paul Greengrass brought his regular collaborator Rouse in six months before the start of production as Billy Ray and he were still working on the script. “Paul believes [as I do] that editing is the natural extension of the writing process, and so it makes sense I would be involved at that point. captain1Coming in early allows me to inhabit Paul’s vision fully, feed ideas into his creative process, and help him pre-empt issues that could arise during production or postproduction.” The result is a Best Picture-nominated film that continuously builds up tension the moment the blips began to appear on the ship’s radar screen indicating they are being tracked to the final gunfire with Somali pirates that frees a traumatized Phillips (Tom Hanks). Rouse brought home an ACE Eddie Award for the film just a couple of weeks ago.

Related: ‘Phillips’ IS The Captain Now As It Defies ‘Gravity’ At The ACE Eddie Awards To Win Second Guild Honor In A Row
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‘Gravity,’ ‘Captain Phillips’ Nab MPSE Sound Editing Awards

By | Sunday February 16, 2014 @ 11:15pm PST

MPSE-Golden-Reels__130118024549-150x150Gravity and Captain Phillips took home the big feature awards tonight — for Best Sound Effects & Foley work and Best Dialogue/ADR, respectively — as the Motion Picture Sound Editors doled out annual awards recognizing achievement in sound editing. HBO’s Game of Thrones, AMC’s Breaking Bad, FX’s The Bridge and FX’s Sons of Anarchy took home honors on the TV side. Feature films, long- and short-form TV, animation, and docus were on the docket at the black tie affair at L.A.’s Bonaventure Hotel where George Lucas presented the annual MPSE Career Achievement Award to Skywalker Sound’s Randy Thom and Ray Dolby was feted in a special tribute introduced by Walter Murch. Scroll down for full list of winners: Read More »

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OSCARS: Capturing Chaos On The High Seas With ‘Captain Phillips’ Sound Editor Oliver Tarney

By | Monday February 10, 2014 @ 9:14pm PST

Captain Phillips hijackersOliver Tarney has the distinction of having worked as the sound editor on two films that were nominated for Best Picture this year: Captain Phillips and Philomena. He was nominated for Best Achievement in Sound Editing on Sony’s Captain Phillips. Having started as a musician, which gave him a keen ear and appreciation of sound design, Tarney faced numerous challenges with a project shot on water and using characters of a unique dialogue. The film is about Somali pirates who commandeer an American vessel captained by Richard Phillips, played by Tom Hanks. Foreign dialogue, rushing ocean water, the ominous blip from the sonar screen, a small skiff slapping against the waves as it rockets towards the lumbering cargo ship, the scream of the outboard motor to hushed and frightened conversation from the crew in the ship’s creaking hull, automatic gunfire ricocheting, the metallic sound of the ladder being hurled onto the ship for the pirates to climb aboard, and ultimately taking Phillips captive in a cramped module of the lifeboat that splashes into the water and out to sea. All of these sound elements helped build the suspense of Captain Phillips.

Related: OSCARS: Who Were The Unsung Heroes Of 2014′s Academy Award Pics?
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‘Phillips’ IS The Captain Now As It Defies ‘Gravity’ At The ACE Eddie Awards To Win Second Guild Honor In A Row

Pete Hammond

Just when you think you have this whole awards season thing figured out, along comes another fork in the road. Tonight’s acelogo__120219055546-200x94__140110144901American Cinema Editors Awards crowned three favorites including American Hustle as Best Edited Feature Film (comedy or musical), Frozen for Animated Feature and 20 Feet From Stardom in the corresponding Feature Documentary category. But when it came to the final award of the evening, presenter Leonardo DiCaprio opened the envelope and announced Captain Phillips which was edited by past Eddie- and Oscar-winner Christopher Rouse. This is the second week in a row where Phillips has pulled off a mini-coup after surprising at the WGA Awards by taking Best Adapted Screenplay. In retrospect that win wasn’t that stunning since Oscar front-runner in the category 12 Years A Slave was ineligible as was another major contender, Philomena. But Friday night at the ACE Eddies Phillips pulled off a major win by besting favorites Slave, and especially Gravity which was co-edited by its DGA winning and Oscar-favored Director Alfonso Cuaron. 

Related: WGA Awards: ‘Captain Phillips’ & ‘Her’ Win Top Film Awards

64th Annual ACE Eddie Awards - ShowGravity has been the favorite to win this award and several other crafts honors at the Oscars. This slowed a little of its momentum at least for the night. Will the surprise ambush at  ACE mean Captain Phillips, another superbly edited nail-biting achievement, suddenly has turned the category into a real race and put a roadblock in the way of a possible Gravity sweep? We do have to remember that it is only editors themselves voting at ACE while the entire Academy membership votes in this category, and all others, for the final Oscar winner.  I still think that gives Cuaron’s space drama the upper hand, but who knows? It was the Academy that bypassed both star Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass making it a bit of an underdog to the front-runners but it is on something of a roll right now.  Read More »

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64th Annual ACE Eddie Awards: ‘Captain Phillips’ Wins Drama Feature Prize; ‘American Hustle’ Top Comedy; ‘Frozen’ Wins Animation Trophy; ‘Breaking Bad’ & ‘The Office’ Take Top TV Prizes

By | Friday February 7, 2014 @ 8:45pm PST

acelogo__120219055546-200x94__140110144901With presenters including Leonardo DiCaprio, Warren Beatty and Jonah Hill, it was a winning night for Captain Phillips, American Hustle, Breaking Bad and Frozen at the 64th annual ACE Eddie Awards. Christopher Rouse took home the Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic) for Captain Phillips. That film’s director Paul Greengrass also was on hand at the Beverly Hilton to accept this year’s ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year award from the American Cinema Editors, presented by his lead actor Tom Hanks. The Bob Odenkirk-hosted ceremony also saw American Hustle editors Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers & Alan Baumgarten win the Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy or Musical) trophy. Hot off its big Annie Awards win last week, Disney’s Frozen and its editor Jeff Draheim won the Best Edited Animated Feature Film prize. The Oscar-nominated pic 20 Feet From Stardom, which debuted at Sundance last year, won the Documentary Feature award.

Related: Full List of 2014 ACE Eddie Award Nominations

On the TV Side, Breaking Bad editor Skip MacDonald scored the Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television award for the series finale episode “Felina”. The Office, Showtime’s Homeland and HBO’s Behind The Candelabra also were winners. In the new Best Edited Non-Scripted Series category, Nick Brigden took home the Eddie for his work on the “Tokyo” episode of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.

Check out the full list of winners below, and stay tuned for Deadline’s Pete Hammond’s column on the victors, what went on in the room and what tonight’s awards mean heading toward the Academy Awards on March 2

Related: Full List of 2014 ACE Eddie Award Nominations
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OSCARS: Who Were The Unsung Heroes Of 2014′s Academy Award Pics?

Diane Haithman and Cari Lynn are contributing to Deadline’s Oscar coverage.

oscarsOn every film there’s someone who doesn’t get as much credit as they deserve. People in the background who fight for the movie, whose insight or work is crucial to the film, whose efforts start the ball rolling. For instance, for Gravity, it was Alfonso Cuaron‘s son (and writing partner, Jonas), who inspired him by saying, “Your films are all right, but you’ve got to get more entertaining,” Cuaron remembered backstage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel after the Golden Globes last Sunday. “It could be more fun. And that was the point of departure to do this film.” Also, if it weren’t for former Warner Bros. president of the Motion Picture Group Jeff Robinov, the film would not have gotten made. It got shoved aside by Universal after Angelina Jolie dropped out and Warner Bros. couldn’t get its co-financiers to step up to the plate. Enter Robinov who was the behind the scenes champion on the film which now has a worldwide gross of $675M. For 12 Years a Slave, it was Steve McQueen‘s wife Bianca Stigter who found the book and alerted her husband who had been wanting to make a film about slavery. Today, we asked some of the nominees who, if anyone, also deserved special recognition. These are some of the responses.

American Hustle: Amy AdamsAmy Adams, Best Actress nominee, American Hustle:
“The unsung hero? That’s our Steadicam operator Geoff [Haley] – I’m not even kidding. Because David [O. Russell] works in 360 and you can plan what the shot is but the shot is pretty much what David O. Russell is yelling at the moment. Geoff is running around all day with a Steadicam on and I would look at him and go I don’t know how you’re doing this if I’m barely standing at the end of the day. He was amazing. He’s our dance partner. Any place we moves he’s moving – and sometimes it’s without planning… It’s an amazing thing to watch.”

Jean-Marc Vallee & Matthew McConaugheyMatthew McConaughey, Best Actor nominee, Dallas Buyers Club:
The under the radar person that’s not really been brought up out in the light as much as I would have liked is Jean-Marc [Valée], the director. He came out, he’s only been on couple of panels. Mind you was off making another film, which is priority one. But this guy brought the right sensitivity to the anarchy of Ron Woodruff’s story. He saw what it was from the beginning. His ideas for how to approach different scenes were wild but always very human. We know when you read this script, this could be one movies that’s an independent, that’s very important – but is it going to be entertaining? We got away with importance and entertainment. That’s a big coup for a movie like this. Read More »

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Film Editors Tap Paul Greengrass For Golden Eddie Filmmaker Of The Year

By | Wednesday January 15, 2014 @ 2:48pm PST

Related: ACE Eddie Award Nominations

"Captain Phillips" - Los Angeles Premiere Universal City, CA, January 15, 2014 – Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass has been selected by the Board of Directors of the American Cinema Editors (ACE) to be honored with the organization’s prestigious ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award. The award will be presented at the 64th Annual ACE Eddie Awards ceremony on Friday, February 7, 2014 in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, it was announced today by the ACE Board of Directors.

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OSCARS Q&A: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ And ‘Captain Phillips’ Producer Scott Rudin On Making Prestige Pics Inside And Outside The Studio Fold

By | Tuesday January 7, 2014 @ 12:03pm PST
Mike Fleming

Scott Rudin Oscars InterviewIt has become common to find Scott Rudin with multiple films in the Oscar hunt. This time, the producer has the Joel and Ethan Coen-directed Inside Llewyn Davis, financed independently and distributed by CBS Films, and the Paul Greengrass-directed Captain Phillips, funded by Rudin’s home studio Sony Pictures. The prolific producer manages these Oscar campaigns while he presided over a record-breaking limited stage run of the Mike Nichols-directed Betrayal with Daniel Craig; as The Book Of Mormon continues to be Broadway’s biggest bread winner; preps for next month’s Berlin premiere of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel; is in post on the Chris Rock-directed Finally Famous and Jon Stewart’s helming debut Rosewater, about a mock journalist who spent nine frightening months detained in Iran after filing a comic field report on Stewart’s The Daily Show. There are big pics percolating, from one with Paul Thomas Anderson to the adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs, a Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sequel, and the adaptation of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra book that got a new draft from Eric Roth and has everyone excited including Angelina Jolie, who seems destined to play the Egyptian queen. Rudin, who once had his projects bankrolled by whatever major studio he called home, has responded to a changing market for the challenging adult films he favors by becoming increasingly nimble in finding money to empower the auteurs that work with him over and over. There is reason for optimism in this race: his last two Coen collaborations were the Best Picture Oscar winning No Country For Old Men and the Best Picture nominee True Grit; his last film with Hanks, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, was a Best Picture nominee. Rudin took time out to discuss Inside Llewyn Davis, Captain Phillips, and his continued evolution in a fast-changing business.

DEADLINE: Inside Llewyn Davis was probably the first Coen Brothers film made without a distributor in place. How did you benefit from doing it that way?
LLEWYNDAVISRUDIN: It gave us a huge advantage. It was not a particularly expensive movie, under $20 million, and we financed it completely out of Europe. StudioCanal was a fantastic partner and allowed the guys to go off and make the movie exactly the way they wanted to. They wrote a check, wished us luck, and loved it when we were done. To have a completed Coen Brothers movie, and own North America, was spectacular. We had four or five offers for it. We did a one night screening with a music component to it that people loved, and we took the CBS Films deal. That was a choice people were curious about when we made it because they didn’t have experience with this kind of movie. It worked out fantastically well.

DEADLINE: Is that because the usual suspects already had Oscar bait films?
RUDIN: A big part of the draw was Terry Press. We’ve worked together on a ton of movies; she was the head of publicity back when I did Sister Act at Disney. We go back 25 years. She worked on The Social Network and on Dragon Tattoo, and I knew she loved this kind of music and the Coens. As we fielded other offers, I frankly hoped it would end up there. We had a lot of input into how they distributed it and sold it. I liked working with Wolfgang Hammer and have always loved Les Moonves. He was running Fox Television while I was running feature production at Fox in the mid-1980s so we go back 30 years. They didn’t have another movie in this slot, and it felt they would do something bold and more aggressive with it. It felt like a perfect fit.

DEADLINE: You undersold that buyers screening. As I recall, there were wall to wall music stars milling with Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and every star in the constellation…
llewRUDIN: That became our selling screening. We had this idea to do a screening the night before Grammys because a ton of music people would be in town and we wanted to screen the movie for musicians. We sent invitations and the list came back so spectacularly that I said to Joel and Ethan, why don’t we just invite some buyers? It was such a great opportunity to screen the movie for an audience you could feel pretty confident would love it, because the movie was really about them. It was a great party full of people who really loved the movie and had a profound relationship to the subject. A lot of them had worked with the Coens or worked with me. We had 700 people in two screening rooms, followed by a concert with T Bone Burnett, The Punch Brothers played, so did Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac. It was pretty spectacular. Because there was this pure motive of, let’s screen the movie for musicians, and because no one had seen the film, it had a buzz in the room that existed because it was an authentic event.

DEADLINE: When did your offers come in?
RUDIN: The next day. Read More »

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Deadline Awards Watch 56: The Tom Hanks And Taylor Swift Holiday Podcast

By | Thursday December 26, 2013 @ 4:22pm PST
Pete Hammond

Deadline Awards Watch podcast 56In this special holiday edition of our Deadline Awards Watch podcast, Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi about the making of Captain Phillips with director Paul Greengrass. Pete also talks with Taylor Swift, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter behind “Sweeter Than Fiction,” the theme song of One Chance, about writing for films and her own budding acting career. If you didn’t make the in-theater screenings for these films, hearing Pete’s Q&As is almost like being there — particularly if you’re an awards voter busily working through a big DVD pile of awards contenders this holiday week. Also in this episode, Pete talks with host David Bloom about all the newly debuted films jamming this week’s box office.

Deadline Awards Watch Episode 56 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch Episode 56 (.M4A version) Read More »

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Tom Hanks To Receive Palm Springs Festival’s Chairman’s Award

tom hanksFresh off Golden Globe and SAG nominations for his lead turn in Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks can add the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Chairman’s Award to his cache of kudos this year. Hanks is receiving the honor in recognition of both Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks, his other awards season contender in which he plays Walt Disney opposite Emma Thompson. Here’s the release from the festival:

palmsprings__131119151421-200x190Palm Springs, CA (December 16, 2013) – The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Academy Award® winning actor Tom Hanks with the Chairman’s Award for Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks at its annual Awards Gala. The Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Matthew McConaughey, Steve McQueen, Thomas Newman, Lupita Nyong’o, Julia Roberts and the cast of American Hustle. Presented by Cartier and hosted by Mary Hart, the Awards Gala will be held Saturday, January 4 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 3-13, 2014.

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up on Deadline’s top film stories you missed this week:

peter o'toole dead‘Lawrence Of Arabia’s Peter O’Toole Dead At 81 – 8-Time Oscar Nominee Retired Last Year
By Anita Busch and Jen Yamato – Oscar-nominated actor Peter O’Toole died yesterday, his agent confirmed Sunday. He was 81. Often called the Hamlet of his generation, his death comes only about a year after retiring from a 54-year career in both stage and film highlighted by his turn as T.E. Lawrence in David Lean’s 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia, which won seven Oscars including Best Picture.

Peter O’Toole’s Long And Frustrating Half-Century Dance With Oscar: “Always A Bridesmaid, Never A Bride”
By Pete Hammond – There is no doubt Peter O’Toole was one of the greatest actors the movies have ever seen. Since coming into major international stardom with his dazzling turn in Lawrence Of Arabia, O’Toole compiled a group of brilliant performances over the past half century that are second to none. But he also holds another distinction.

BOX OFFICE: Weather Impacts BO But Attendance Up Overall Year to Date, ‘The Hobbit’ Lighter But Strong, ‘Frozen’ Steals ‘Madea’s Christmas’ As ‘American Hustle’ Kicks It On Six Screens
By Anita Busch – The severe weather across the nation – winter storms across 23 states and 100 million people – also impacted the nation’s box office this weekend. It seems to have affected the older pictures most. Read More »

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Fleming Q&As Paul Greengrass On Oscar Contender ‘Captain Phillips’, MLK, And Why He’ll Never Make Another Bourne Film

Mike Fleming

Paul Greengrass Interview Captain PhillipsEXCLUSIVE: Conveying the kinetic energy of real-life events has become a signature for Paul Greengrass. He grew up making documentaries, and then television dramas like the IRA car bombing saga Omagh, which he produced and co-wrote. He turned that urgent cinematic style to features including 2002′s Bloody Sunday, the Oscar-nominated 2006 drama United 93, and fictional dramas including Green Zone, and the last two Bourne installments The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Here, he’s in the Oscar hunt again with Captain Phillips, and so are his dueling captains played by Tom Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi.

DEADLINE: We all watched the Somali pirate hijacking play out in real time not long ago. What did you see under the surface here that made this feature-worthy?
GREENGRASS: There’s got to be something about the story that’s both accurately clear and dramatic, but also layered and complex.  That was the case here and on United 93. What was clear about both: these were siege/hostage crises that turned into tense, dramatic events with clear, compelling characters. But there was a broader more complex landscape. Why do young men become pirates, these vagabonds with AK-47s who are prepared to defy the might of the U.S. Navy? It was enough to ask, what does this event mean? It’s layered and complex and it goes to where we are today. I felt that way about United 93 and Bloody Sunday. You make the film as authentically as you know how, and if you make judgments with a spirit of open-mindedness, complexities emerge. These traumatic series of events seem to speak to the way we are.

piratDEADLINE: It sounds like you can be surprised during the journey, when things reveal themselves even when you have a strong script as your blueprint. What emerged that surprised you most?
GREENGRASS: I remember Tom and I having a long, rolling conversation early on, asking, what is this really about? What’s the question we’re trying to answer here? We ended up literally writing it on a piece of paper. Is it going to be OK? It seems banal, but it captured the state of mind of a regular guy in the Merchant Marines who goes off to sea. My father was in the Merchant Marines. All of us feel the economic pressure that causes us to work harder. Then this terrible thing happens and it becomes a question of, it’s going to be alright, isn’t it? There is a feeling of underlying unease, a general sense that the world wheels are turning fast.

DEADLINE: Your Somali pirates were played by first-time actors. Why did you keep them away from Tom Hanks until the siege occurred?
piraGREENGRASS: From day one, they were saying, when can we meet Tom Hanks? I said, not until you go through that door and take that ship. They were disappointed, but my great anxiety was this: the movie is a study of two captains, two very contrasting figures. One is captain of a large container ship from our world, the other a lawless vagabond from another world. I didn’t want Barkhad to be thinking, that’s Tom Hanks. Or even worse, that’s my friend Tom Hanks. I wanted him to have one thought only. When you go through that door, you have to scare, terrorize and seize control of that bridge. Barkhad came up with that brilliant line, ‘I’m the captain now,’ and it came from that challenge that he had to take charge. I tried to prepare him psychologically. Acting is many things, and one is an exercise of will. In any given scene, you’re trying to find where the drama and conflict is, and then deploy the actors to play at that point of conflict with precision, control, and complete will. It’s no good in a scene to have one actor lie down because the scene says it’s the other actor’s moment. Each actor has to believe that with extra will, the outcome of a scene can be different. An actor can win the scene if he exerts the most powerful will in that moment. That’s what happened. Look back at those performances by Tom and Barkhad; they really build from the moment Barkhad seizes control. For Tom, that’s the moment that he must come back from. The look on his face, a magnificent moment, where he knows his ship is going to be taken. You feel in his face the existential shock of a captain losing his ship. The psychological collapse would be immense. Tom’s performance is really about rebuilding himself from a position of hopelessness, to the end where he goes on that journey in the lifeboat that becomes more emotional and deeper. The film is their trial of strength, their test of wills and it all grew from that first moment. Read More »

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‘Captain Phillips’ Set For January Re-Release

By | Tuesday December 10, 2013 @ 7:31pm PST

captain-phillips01EXCLUSIVE: Sony is re-releasing its Tom Hanks-starring Oscar contender Captain Phillips on Wednesday, January 15 — the day before the Academy Awards nominations are announced — and hopes to expand the film into 1,000 theaters nationwide by that time. Currently, it’s in 640 locations with a mere $797 per-screen average as the film has been winding down its initial run. The true-life film about the captain of a ship taken over by Somali pirates already has made more than $100 million at the domestic box office since bowing in October. Its DVD/Blu-ray release is less than a week later on January 21, but the studio wants to sweeten its chances for Oscars before final ballots are due Feb. 25, hence the expansion. Newcomer Barkhad Abdi has garnered much Oscar buzz for his role as the young man coerced into a mission way beyond his ability. Captain Phillips brought in $510,201 this past weekend, pushing its cume to $103.5 million.

Related: Producers Michael De Luca & Dana Brunetti On Lure Of ‘Captain Phillips’

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OSCARS: An Early Look At The Best Picture Race – Frontrunners In A Crowded Field

Pete Hammond

A recent, and unsolicited, email from a producer friend of mine demonstrates what a lot of people are saying about this year’s best picture race: “Now this is a year for film! Tremendous. Going to be a fun one, my friend.” It is going to be a fun one. Nearly every Academy member to whom I have spoken seems excited about the level of quality in this year’s race, which is a strong indication that this could be the first year 10 films are nominated since the rules changed to allow a variable number. Just consider what’s already out there in theaters or on Blu-Ray: 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Dallas Buyers Club, Blue Jasmine, All Is Lost, Fruitvale Station, Prisoners, Rush, Blue Is The Warmest Color, Before Midnight, Mud and The Place Beyond The Pines.

The fact is, this is a year in which there could be room for 20 films. Consider those yet to open or just opening: Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks, Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis, August: Osage County, The Book Thief, Her, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Lone Survivor, Labor Day and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. All of those films have played the fest circuit, and most pundits—including this one—already have seen them and can say definitively that it’s a formidable list. Of those yet to be seen by just about anyone outside of rarefied circles are The Wolf Of Wall Street and American Hustle, both December releases expected to be major players in several races.

Related: OSCARS: Fest Circuit A Must For Majors Chasing Award Season Gold

With this kind of lineup, it is no wonder some movies once thought to have awards aspiration—such as Foxcatcher, Grace Of Monaco, The Immigrant and George Clooney’s The Monuments Men—have all opted out. And why not? Read More »

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OSCARS: Filmmakers Walk A Fine Line When Dramatizing Real-Life Events

By | Saturday November 23, 2013 @ 7:30am PST

Charles Lyons is an AwardsLine contributor.

Late last year, the acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Morell, took the unusual measure of voicing the CIA’s distaste for a Hollywood film. “The film takes significant license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate,” Morell wrote in a letter to CIA personnel, later widely republished. “What I want you to know is that Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts.”

Of course, no one thought Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty was a documentary, but Morell’s letter speaks to the conundrum that any screenwriter crafting a script based on real events must confront: How to tell the story in a dramatically engaging way while remaining true to the facts. Read More »

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OSCARS: Producers Michael De Luca & Dana Brunetti On The Lure Of ‘Captain Phillips’

By | Wednesday November 20, 2013 @ 8:25pm PST

As the story about the hijacking of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama unfolded on television in 2009, producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti were transfixed. It was the first time a U.S. vessel had been seized by pirates since the 19th century, and it seemed to have the makings of a great movie. “We weren’t sure because it looked like it was going to be a very grim outcome,” Brunetti explains. “As Mike says, it (could have been) more of a Sundance movie.” But the story did end well. Captain Phillips (Sony) earned $25.7 million domestically in its October opening weekend, and Tom Hanks’ lead performance is drawing awards buzz.

AwardsLine: How did you first become involved with Captain Phillips?
Michael De Luca: We watched the news story, and after the situation was resolved, we thought there was a really good movie in there — stuff you couldn’t get from the news, like what was being said within the lifeboat, what the Navy was dealing with, getting all the assets into the region. So after we decided it would be a good movie, we took the next step, which was to see if the real Captain Phillips would engage with us. That’s where Dana and (production company) Trigger Street picked up the ball.
Dana Brunetti: About a week or so (after the rescue), I got the OK to go and meet with (Richard Phillips) in Vermont. He had just gotten back. I sat down at dinner with him, and he still had bruises on his wrist from being bound. You would never believe that he’d just gone through what he’d gone through because he’s just an everyman — dry sense of humor and just a regular good guy. Actually, I thought I’d have something in common with him because I was in the Coast Guard. So I threw that out and I found out that he’s not a big fan of the Coast Guard. (Laughs.) It was like, “Let’s change the topic.” About a week later, he said he wanted to go with us, but he wanted to wait for the book (A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS And Dangerous Days At Sea, on which the film was based) to be done. He came back to us when it was done, and we went to Sony and set it up there. Read More »

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FX Acquires ‘Thor: The Dark World’, ‘Gravity’ & ‘Captain Phillips’

By | Monday November 11, 2013 @ 12:18pm PST

FX continues to bolster its library of theatrical hits, acquiring the TV rights to Gravity (Warner Bros), Captain Phillips (Sony) and this past weekend’s box-office topper Thor: The Dark World (Disney). It also has locked in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, and Prisoners. FX has been very aggressive in acquiring blockbusters, buying virtually every No. 1 movie in the box office for the past couple of years for the main network and FX siblings FXX and FXM. Other previously announced acquisitions include Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, Man of Steel, Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, The Croods, The Heat, Identity Thief, Grown Ups 2, The Wolverine, The Hangover Part III, and Pacific Rim. The new films will make their premieres on the FX Networks beginning in 2015.

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