SUNDAY 7:30 AM, 3RD UPDATE: No change in the three top movies’ order at the domestic box office: Summit Entertainment’s Twilight Saga finale Breaking Dawn Part 2 is #1 for the third weekend in a row, the Eon Productions/MGM/Sony Pictures’ James Bond actioner Skyfall is a close #2, and Steven Spielberg’s Oscar buzzed Lincolnfrom DreamWorks/Fox/Disney is #3. It was a lean Friday but a fat Saturday. Ben Affleck’s Academy Awards-touted Argo crossed the $100M benchmark this weekend. While during the week, Wall Street called DreamWorks Animation’s Rise Of The Guardians “one of the most disappointing releases in the company’s history” – enough to hurt the public company’s share price. Analysts who expected to see $55M-$58M for the toon over Thanksgiving – not $32.6M - join Hollywood in still struggling to understand why audiences rejected the film. Toon is probably all in at just $80M.
Traditionally the weekend after Thanksgiving gives new definition to the term ‘quiet’. I’m told it’s failed to produce a wide release hit for 20 years and counting. So there were low expectations for producer Brad Pitt‘s R-rated ruthless star turn in Killing Them Softly (2,424 theaters) from his Plan B production company and Oracle heiress Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures which financed it for $15M. But Friday night it received a miserable ‘F’ CinemaScore from audiences despite decent reviews and a stellar cast including Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, and James Gandolfini. Little wonder that distributor … Read More »
Here’s the latest trailer for writer-director Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, based on George V. Higgins’ novel Cogan’s Trade. Brad Pitt stars as a mob enforcer/hit man in The Weinstein Company release that opens November 30th. The movie also features Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins and James Gandolfini:
EXCLUSIVE: Taking advantage of a sliver of daylight in the Oscar season release corridor, The Weinstein Company has moved from an October 19 to a November 30 release on Killing Them Softly, the Andrew Dominik-directed crime drama that stars Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins and Ray Liotta. Pitt plays an enforcer who investigates a heist in a mob-sponsored card game. It is a smart move because the film was going against October 19 openers Paranormal Activity 4 and Alex Cross, the Rob Cohen-directed reboot of the James Patterson series that stars Tyler Perry. Right now, the film goes against the Nicolas Cage/John Cusack thriller The Frozen Ground and not much else. It also puts Pitt closer to the Oscar mix.
Harvey Weinstein confirmed the move to me. “In this industry it is a very rare event to look at a weekend where your movie could open as the only wide release picture,” he said. “November 30th will allow us to bring Killing Them Softly to a wide audience without competition. Additionally, the critical response to the movie has been very favorable especially on the amazing performances and November 30th positions us better in the Awards season calendar.”
The Weinstein Company has confirmed moving Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master to a limited opening on September 14 from its original date October 12. The movie will add theaters on September 21. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as the charismatic central figure of the movie. Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix also star. Additionally Weinstein is moving the Brad Pitt drama Killing Them Softly to October 19 from September 21. The Master now will be opening against the wide releases of Disney/Pixar’s remastered-in-3D Finding Nemo and Sony/Screen Gems’ Resident Evil: Retribution. Other movies opening in limited release September 14 will be Summit’s The Perks Of Being A Wildflower, IFC’s Liberal Arts and UTV’s Barfi! Director Andrew Dominik and Pitt’s Killing Them Softly will be up against a pair of other wide releases October 19, Alex Cross from Summit and Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 4 plus IFC’s The Loneliest Planet and Paramount Vantage’s Not Fade Away.
Killing Them Softly, the last of the films from The Weinstein Company in the Cannes Film Festival‘s official selection – and easily the distributor’s most controversial, politically at least – is premiering tonight. Star Brad Pitt made the day of the paparazzi who kept incessantly yelling “Brad! Brad! Brad!” at the pre-press conference photo call even as his co-stars and director Andrew Dominik stood virtually ignored in the same shots. Pitt marks the biggest star presence yet at the festival: Showing his true power, even the rainy skies turned blue, the temperature outside heated up and the sun came out just in time for his hike up the Palais’ red-carpeted steps.
The film, on which Pitt and partner Dede Gardner were among the producers through their Plan B shingle, is a tough-as-nails, tight, noirish and brutal crime thriller that boasts an ensemble of exceptionally fine performances. That includes Pitt as an strictly all-business hit man hired by the mob after small-time crooks pull off a heist of their poker game. Also perfectly cast are veterans James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Ben Mendelsohn, Ray Liotta, Sam Shepard (briefly) and Scoot McNairy. The only woman I can remember in the cast was a prostitute roundly and hilariously insulted by the sex-obsessed hired gun played by Gandolfini.
The testosterone-driven genre film stands with the best recent examples, and it is also surprisingly political — switching the setting of the 1974 Boston-based George Higgins novel Cogan’s Trade to 2008 New Orleans right at the time of the presidential election and economic meltdown. For most of the movie’s running time, the politics are simmering in the background with numerous excerpts of speeches from then-candidate Barack Obama and then-President George W. Bush. Toward the end it gets more pronounced, particularly when Pitt’s character Jackie Cogan seemingly puts out one of his “hits” on Obama’s hopeful speech-making. Read More »
Following last year’s stellar lineup (The Artist, Midnight In Paris, etc), Cannes Film Festival general delegate and artistic director Thierry Frémaux had a tough task to come up with an equally ripe selection this year. It seems he succeeded given that words being tossed around the French film biz today include “impressive” and “sumptuous.” However, he tells me he didn’t feel pressure to outdo himself. “Last year at this time no one knew, even me, that it would be considered a very good year.” He’s still going to announce another 3 or 4 titles, but he says he doesn’t even know what they are yet.
There’s a heavy presence of English-language films in this year’s vintage, but Frémaux points out that looks can be deceiving: there are features from 26 countries. He tells me, though, that he feels a renewed “presence of a certain type of American cinema that we no longer had.” It’s come back strong, he says, “but I also hope it’s a new existence for great American films on an international level.” Read More »