Specialty Preview: ‘The Impossible’, ‘Promised Land’, ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’ Hope To Gain Momentum

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

The first weekend of 2013 has barely any new specialty releases. One exception is Magnolia Pictures’ action-thriller A Dark Truthdirected by Damian Lee and starring Andy Garcia, Kim Coates and Deborah Kara Unger, will have a limited opening in Miami. Post-holiday attention on limited releases will focus on holdovers and expansions, including Lionsgate-Summit’s The Impossible, Focus Features’ Promised Land and Hyde Park On Hudson, and The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook, and others.

The Naomi Watts-Ewan McGregor starrer The Impossible had a relatively meager start, averaging $8,250 in 15 locations two weekends ago, but it managed a rare feat last weekend increasing its average to $12,300 in the same 15 theaters. The film about a family caught in the South Asian tsumami has grossed an additional $145,721 in the same cinemas Monday through Wednesday ahead of its hefty expansion into 572 locations beginning Friday. Read More »

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Specialty Preview: ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’, ‘In Our Nature’, ‘The Art Of Flight 3D’ & More

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Oscar hopeful Hyde Park On Hudson with Bill Murray as Franklin Delano Roosevelt is this weekend’s highest profile debut in the specialty market. There’s also In Our Nature with Jena Malone and John Slattery, and Robert Carlyle headlines California Solo in a role written with him in mind. The late Ernest Borgnine stars in The Man Who Shook The Hand Of Vicente Fernandez in a role that turns the idea of celebrity upside-down. Plus Elizabeth McGovern stars in Cheerful Weather For The Wedding that her Downton Abbey fans will likely appreciate. On the non-fiction front, a re-mastered 3D version of The Art Of Flight hits AMC Theatres for one night only in select markets followed by a campaign for screenings via Tugg.com, the online marketing platform that allows moviegoers to push collectively for a theatrical booking in their area.

Hyde Park On Hudson
Director: Roger Michell
Writer: Richard Nelson
Cast: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Samuel West, Elizabeth Wilson
Distributor: Focus Features

Focus Features and Film 4 waited a year to see if Bill Murray would take the role of America’s longest serving president, Franklin D. Roosevelt in a story written by Richard Nelson that observes the little known story about the relationship the four-term President had with a distant cousin, Daisy (Laura Linney) who lived near his mother’s Hudson Valley, NY retreat. The story revolves around that relationship coinciding with a historical visit by the British monarchs George VI and Queen Elizabeth before the dawn of World War II. “It’s the fourth movie we’ve worked on with Bill,” said Focus Features CEO James Schamus. “Taking on a role like this – there’s no safety net. You either have to do it or not. It took him about a year to come on board, but once he commits, it’s 100 percent and he’s all in.” The film was shot in the UK with Roger Michell at the helm and with British co-financing. Schamus noted the terrain looks similar to the Hudson Valley and the relatively plentiful estates outside London made finding the right setting easier than it might have been in New York. “We couldn’t get approval at the actual Roosevelt mansion,” Schamus said of the movie, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival after a Telluride screening over Labor Day weekend. Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Bill Murray

By | Sunday November 18, 2012 @ 4:36pm PST
Pete Hammond

Although Bill Murray is beloved for his work in comedy classics like Ghostbusters, Stripes, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, and others, it was 2003’s Lost In Translation that really cemented his reputation as a serious actor, earning him the Golden Globe, British Academy Award, Independent Spirit Award, and several best actor honors from critics groups including Los Angeles, New York, and Boston. He also earned his one and only Oscar nomination for the film, losing to Sean Penn in Mystic River, though many regarded him as the favorite that year. Now with his performance as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park On Hudson, a comedy-drama focusing on the odd relationship between Roosevelt and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley over the course of a weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of England made a visit to the United States, Murray is once again generating strong awards buzz for this unexpected turn as one of America’s greatest presidents.

AwardsLine: You are a great actor, but I never saw you as Franklin Roosevelt. Did you see yourself in the role right away?
Bill Murray: I don’t think I ever did, either. I was a little surprised to be asked, and then I read the script, and I thought, I can do this. Even though it’s reaching, it’s kind of a good reaching, where you have to push yourself. (Director) Roger (Michell) was helpful. He was very attentive to what I was doing. And there are scenes that are just so joyous to play, like the scene with the King (of England) and the library. It couldn’t get any better. Read More »

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With One Race Almost Over, Is A New Presidential Race Gearing Up For Oscars?

Pete Hammond

If you think the Presidential election ends today, think again.

Although America will cast its vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney today, the other campaign that really matters is for the Oscar, and there’s a strong Presidential flavor brewing. That’s true particularly in the Best Actor race, where one of the early frontrunners, Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln (to be released Friday), could find himself squaring off against Bill Murray playing Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park On Hudson (12/7). And yet another President, Jimmy Carter, could have a positive impact on the tight Best Picture race. Or in a less direct way, maybe even on Barack Obama himself.

Scores of actors have played Presidents over the course of cinema history, but few have scored at the Oscars with those portrayals. In fact, no one has managed to win an Oscar for actually playing a President — real or fictional. (This year, campaigners for Day-Lewis and Murray are determined to change that fact.) Even nominations for actors playing real Presidents have been hard to come by: Richard Nixon provided the best opportunity winning a Lead Actor nomination for Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone’s Nixon (1995), and for Frank Langella in 2008′s Frost/Nixon. Hopkins also got a supporting nomination in 1997 as John Quincy Adams in Amistad. Read More »

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Will Playing FDR Give Bill Murray A Second Shot At Oscar? ‘Hyde Park’ Hits Telluride

Pete Hammond

Awards buzz has grown around Bill Murray ever since it was announced he would be playing FDR in Focus FeaturesHyde Park On Hudson. His is not the first name that comes to mind when you think of serious portrayals of U.S. Presidents. But he pulls it off without a hitch, and early reaction at its first-ever public screening Friday night at the 39th Telluride Film Festival was very good. Maybe we’ll have a Presidential shoot-out at the Oscars between Murray’s FDR and Daniel Day Lewis’ Abe Lincoln?

I have always thought Murray got robbed of a much deserved Best Actor Oscar in 2003 for Lost In Translation when Sean Penn swooped in and stole it for Mystic River. The problem this year is that the category is overloaded with so many genuine contenders that Academy voters easily could find 10 deserving performances to fill only the 5 slots. Murray’s is a subtle but engaging portrait. And Oscar voters are suckers for performances which not only show an actor can play against type but also take on well-known historical figures. Murray’s FDR fits the bill as definite Oscar bait. Hyde Park On Hudson also has another plus that gives it plenty of Academy potential. It is the second film in three years to deal in some way with England’s King George VI. This plot, set in 1939, involves an invitation for the new King to visit President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So the stuttering monarch, this time played by Samuel West, is back in Telluride where the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech debuted on its first stop to Best Picture glory in 2010.

Related: Toronto Film Fest: What Looks Good For Oscar?

Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’ Read More »

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Toronto Film Fest: What Looks Good For Oscar?

Pete Hammond

Okay let’s just cut to the chase.

What does today’s first announcement of galas and special presentations at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival mean for the Oscar race? Of course it is only still July but with this news out of Canada the lineup for awards season is starting to become a reality. Venice (which is opening with Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalistalso a Toronto Gala pick which bodes well), Toronto and Telluride have increasingly become key outposts for the official beginning of awards season and 2012 films the studios and indies are premiering at the trio of oh-so-important fests will be scrutinized for their pure-bred Oscar potential. Venice may be downsizing a bit this year according to early indications and Telluride, per tradition, keeps  its lineup fairly secret until August 30, the day before the Colorado Labor Day weekend fest begins but you can bet it will overlap heavily with the other two fests, particularly Toronto since Telluride doesn’t label any of its films as North American or World Premieres and can play many of the same films under the radar. Toronto gets the honor of official premieres and so it is Toronto that is giving us the most to work with — so far.

The September 6 Opening Night film is action thriller Looper which on the surface does not appear to be an awardsy-type film, just a solid genre piece. I don’t believe Film District plans any kind of major Oscar campaign here. Read More »

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