The 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 …
The 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
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.
AwardsLine deputy editor Anna Lisa Raya contributed to this report.
Everything old is new again for Nebraska cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, whose first film when he was just a kid back in the early 1980s was shot in 35mm black and white. …
EXCLUSIVE: Hot on the heels of getting an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Nebraska, Bob Nelson has signed with WME. Nelson wrote that script a decade ago and waited this long for Alexander Payne to make it. They’ve joked that they were waiting for Will Forte, Bruce Dern and June Squibb to reach the right ages, but the 57-year old Nelson’s sudden trajectory is remarkable. He has long been represented by Todd Hoffman, and he became in play after Hoffman left ICM to become a manager at Storied Media Group and took Nelson with him. Nelson took meetings with all the agencies this week.
While it took a decade for his first script to get made, Nelson is looking to expedite the process considerably for his second film. He has finished a new script, The Confirmation, and intends to direct it. He’s going to reunite with Nebraska producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, who will begin to put the film together shortly.
The New Year has yet to make its mark on the Specialty Box Office, though 2013 titles continue to show traction in January. CBS Films jumped Inside Llewyn Davis from 156 runs to 729 in the run-up to tonight’s Golden Globes, where the film is vying for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) and Best Actor for Oscar Isaac as well as other categories. It grossed $1.876M, averaging $2,573, placing its 6 week cume mostly in limited release at $9,309,126. CBS Films took out a two-page spread this week in the New York Times naming several hundred critics, writers and bloggers who tagged the film as one of their year-end favorites and it has been active generally in touting the Cannes Grand Prix winner this Awards Season. How it will drive audiences as it continues to move into an expansive release is the question mark. CBS Films did note Sunday when reporting the film’s numbers that Llewyn Davis‘ cume has already surpassed the lifetime gross of the Coens’ previous non-studio feature, A Serious Man, which cumed $9,228,768 domestically. Inside Llewyn Davis‘ 9 week cume stands at $9,309,126. Paramount also added theaters for Alexander Payne’s Awards contender Nebraska, moving the film into an additional 281 locations in its 9th weekend in release. It grossed $820K, averaging $1,574. Last week, it averaged $2,792 in 240 theaters. Also up for a Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) and Best Director prizes tonight at the Globes, Nebraska has cumed $8.15M.
WGA Continues Strong Awards Season For ‘Wall Street’, ‘Hustle’, ‘Dallas’ & Woody, But ‘Gravity’, ‘12 Years’ & Coens Not Invited To The Party
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.
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
Anna Lisa Raya is deputy editor of AwardsLine.
Much has been written about the decades-long journey Nebraska took to the big screen. For director Alexander Payne—who spent a year of that time just scouting locations in his home state—the gap allowed him to distance himself from his other road-trip movie, Sideways, and get Paramount behind his desire to shoot in black-and-white (having 2011’s well-received, George Clooney-starrer The Descendants under his belt surely helped). The film, which stars veteran actor Bruce Dern, has been warming audiences since its early bow at the Cannes Film Festival last May and captures that tragi-comic vibe that runs through Payne’s work.
AwardsLine: How do you characterize the long gap between when you were attached to make Nebraska and when the film finally went into production?
Alexander Payne: The reason it took a long time is that I didn’t want to follow up one road-trip film with another. In hindsight, the biggest advantage is in how Bruce Dern looks. He wouldn’t have looked as great 10 years ago. You see different actors in movies and think, “Thank God they got that actor at exactly the right moment.” Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon (1973). Liza Minnelli in Cabaret (1972). I feel that way about Bruce Dern in Nebraska.
Anna Lisa Raya is deputy editor of AwardsLine.
Woody Grant, the cantankerous, not-entirely-there patriarch chasing a dubious lottery payoff in Nebraska, is a character Bruce Dern embodied heart and soul. Though always considered a first choice for the role, Dern had to wait almost a decade—and amidst rumors that Gene Hackman would steal the character from him—to sink his teeth into it. His patience paid off with a best actor statuette at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and might lead to his first Oscar nomination since 1978’s Coming Home. While Woody’s quiet, silent type is a far cry from the psychopaths that have characterized Dern’s career, he knew that the role was right for him. His understated take has critics and awards prognosticators buzzing.
AwardsLine: You’ve said that this was the role of a lifetime. You always were the frontrunner, and yet there was a long delay in getting the film made. What was that like for you?
Bruce Dern: It’ll be 10 years since the script was sent to me through my agent at CAA. I started reading at about 9 o’clock at night, and I was done by 9:50. I read that fast because there was no mistake that this was something special. I was overwhelmed that it came to me. I mean, I pulled my oar for 50-odd years, and I’ve been in good films and everything, but I’ve never had a part that just hit me immediately, like, “This is something I can do.” I responded by going out the next morning and I bought (Alexander Payne) a little red truck. With the truck I sent him a long letter, and I was told he responded positively to the letter. And then the wait began. The next thing I know, Alexander was in production on Sideways! You know, the guy’s making a movie, and I’m not in it. I never got my hopes up; I just kept doing the best I could. But then the next thing I know, Alexander’s in Hawaii! He’s making a movie with George Clooney and all the other folks in The Descendants. Then I got discouraged. I just kind of said to myself, “It’s a business of ups and downs. It’s a business of some do and some don’t. Sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not.” I was lucky to have been privileged enough to be considered for the role.
UPDATED, 2:35 PM: The LA Film Critics Association held its annual end-of year awards vote today, handing Best Picture to WB pics Gravity and Her in one of multiple ties. The big surprise of the day went down as Best Supporting Actor award resulted in a tie between Oscar contender Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) and James Franco (Spring Breakers). Also tying for LAFCA honors were Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine and Adèle Exarchopoulos for Blue Is the Warmest Color, while Nebraska‘s Bruce Dern was named Best Actor and Alfonso Cuaron beat Spike Jonze for Best Director.
Scroll down for full winners.
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: Blue Is the Warmest Color
Runner-up: The Great Beauty
BEST PICTURE (tie): Gravity and Her
BEST ACTRESS (tie): Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine and Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is the Warmest Color
BEST SCREENPLAY: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her
BEST ACTOR: Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Runner-up: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her
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.
Anna Lisa Raya is Deputy Editor of AwardsLine.
Veteran stage, film and TV actor June Squibb shines as the tart-tongued matriarch Kate Grant in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. At turns brash and tender—juggling frustrations with her delusional husband, Woody (played by Bruce Dern), even as she protects him from his money-grubbing family—Squibb’s portrayal garnered early praise when the film debuted at Cannes last May and has been building momentum since.
AwardsLine: You’ve collaborated with Alexander Payne before in About Schmidt but in a much smaller role. How did you get involved with Nebraska?
June Squibb: I don’t know when (Alexander) thought of me, but at some point he did. (His office) called and asked if I would tape some things for them if they sent a script. And I just felt, when I read the script, that I knew this woman. I felt really close to her. And so Alexander called me right after he got the tape and let me know that as far as he was concerned I was the frontrunner for it. We started shooting last October, and I was in New York the spring before, so that’s when he came to me.
Nominations for Film Independent’s Spirit Awards were announced earlier today. As usual the Spirits were among the first groups to jump into the awards season fray, but also, other than the Oscars, the last to name winners (the ceremony is Saturday March 1, day before the Academy Awards). That means there can be a big momentum shift between now and then when the envelopes are opened. But it does give a boost to certain films that qualify as “indies” under their rules (generally a budget under or around $20 million) as they build toward Oscar nominations. Although the Spirits preclude many Oscar frontrunners such as Gravity, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Philomena, August: Osage County, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Prisoners and Lee Daniels’ The Butler to name a few they can provide some comfort for those crossover films whose smaller budgets make them eligible for both including newly-minted Best Film nominees All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and 12 Years A Slave which led all comers with 7 nods. Nebraska was a strong runner-up with 6 and would have tied, but inexplicably Phedon Papamichael’s exquisite black and white scope cinematography was somehow overlooked for the likes of Spring Breakers and Computer Chess. What’s up with that, indie people?
Nevertheless Oscar’s Best Picture list could include several of the Spirit choices and the same goes for the lead acting categories where Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar Isaac, Robert Redford, Matthew McConaughey (a winner last year at the Spirits) and Michael B. Jordan all have reasonable chances to make the corresponding Oscar lineup as well as Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett who likely will have a very good early March weekend at both the Spirits and the Oscars for lead actress.
Anna Lisa Raya is Deputy Editor of AwardsLine.
Following their success working with breakout directors on sophomore efforts—Steven Soderbergh, Todd Field and Alexander Payne among them— Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa were pleasantly surprised when Payne suggested himself to direct the Bob Nelson-penned Nebraska. Almost a decade passed before the film went into production, a fortuitous delay that positioned the black-and-white film directly after Payne’s Oscar-nominated The Descendants, giving it a much-needed bump in budget and studio support. Nebraska stars Bruce Dern and Will Forte as a father and son road-tripping through the Midwest.
AwardsLine: How has your collaborative process with Alexander Payne changed since you worked with him on Election?
ALBERT BERGER: At the time of Election, it was Alexander’s first studio movie, and I think he was very unused to that process—he’s a very personal filmmaker and working with a studio wasn’t his natural thing. At this point in time, with Sideways and About Schmidt and The Descendants all under his belt, Paramount had a level of faith in him; it was a much more relaxed situation. Nobody was telling him who to cast in this instance; nobody was interfering with anything creative about the script.
RON YERXA: All parties matured nicely, and it was a calmer, troublefree way to make a film.
AwardsLine: What were the initial budget conversations like with the studio?
BERGER: We always knew it had to be a small movie because the material was intimate. And we know the way Alexander likes to cast: He reads everybody and casts whoever is best for the part instead of (casting) people with foreign-sales value. So we knew that he was going to cast whoever he wanted, and we knew he wanted to film in black and white. We set it up at Paramount Classics, and they accepted it in black and white, but subsequently they went out of business and became Paramount Vantage. (Then Vantage) went out of business
Alexander Payne‘s black and white drama Nebraska, starring Bruce Dern in the role that nabbed him the Cannes Best Actor Award in May, bowed with solid numbers. The film platformed in 4 theaters, grossing $140K and averaging a healthy $35K. Pic stars Dern as a senior bent on collecting a million bucks in sweepstakes money and Will Forte as the son who reluctantly road trips across state lines to satisfy the old man. The numbers show momentum. Compare to Payne’s previous openings: His last film, The Descendants, opened in 29 theaters in November 2011 with a $41K average, though that film was in color, starred George Clooney, and was set in the sunnier climes of Hawaii. His last road trip movie, Sideways (with Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church), was set in California’s Santa Barbara County and bowed in 4 runs in October 2004 averaging a spectacular $51,769 for a $207K opening weekend gross. Paramount Vantage will expand awards contender Nebraska to 10 markets on November 22.
“We had a strategy of screening early and often,” said Megan Colligan, Paramount’s head of domestic marketing and distribution this week. “Word of mouth is going to be the key here. There’s a strong through line of relatability. Some people will think a movie with octogenarians will think it’s for old people, but their children will relate to connecting with their parents and that has strong emotional pull people will connect to. The comedy community and comics in general love the humor of this movie.”
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Nebraska’, ‘The Great Beauty’, ‘Charlie Countryman’, ‘Dear Mr. Watterson’, ‘Sunlight Jr.’
Over a decade in the making, Alexander Payne’s black and white road trip Nebraska starring Bruce Dern makes its way to theaters after festival runs beginning in Cannes as well as the New York Film Festival and Telluride this fall. The feature had a long journey itself before arriving on the big screen and is platforming this weekend via Paramount Vantage. Janus Films is opening Italy’s Best Foreign Language contender The Great Beauty in an exclusive run. The film is the Criterion related label’s one new release of the year and is beginning with a targeted roll out. Millennium Entertainment’s Charlie Countryman starring Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood is also joining the weekend’s newcomers in limited release as well as day and date. Also opening in theaters and simultaneous VOD is Submarine Deluxe and Gravitas’ Calvin and Hobbes doc Dear Mr. Watterson. Gravitas is also partnering with Samuel Goldwyn on a separate opener this weekend, Sunlight Jr. which stars Naomi Watts, Matt Dillon and Norman Reedus, in a story about trying to make it on minimum wage. Also in the mix this weekend is TWC’s 12-12-12 by directors Amir Bar-Lev & Charlie Lightning and producer Meghan Ohara. The film is a behind-the-scenes look at the televised benefit concert to raise relief funds for Hurricane Sandy victims in 2012. It will open at the Angelika in New York and the Arclight Sherman Oaks this weekend.
Nebraska had been on Oscar-winning filmmaker Alexander Payne’s plate for over a decade. The director, who won accolades for Sideways in 2004 did not want to embark on another road trip movie after the wine guzzling box office hit, so he told producers and its identified star Bruce Dern that there would be a waiting period until he finished another feature — which would eventually be The Descendants. “It’s the first film from a script that Alexander didn’t write,” noted Megan Colligan, Paramount’s head of domestic marketing and distribution. Producers Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger teamed with Paramount for the project.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, September 30, 2013 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today additional red carpet Centerpiece Galas at AFI FEST presented by Audi, including the World Premiere of Scott Cooper’s OUT OF THE FURNACE; Alexander Payne’s NEBRASKA, accompanied by a Tribute to Bruce Dern; and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, directed by and starring Ben Stiller and produced by AFI Conservatory alumnus Stuart Cornfeld, recipient of the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal at the AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony held last June. All galas will be presented in the historic TCL Theatre.
As previously announced, the North American Premiere of SAVING MR. BANKS (DIR John Lee Hancock) is the Opening Night Gala and INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (DIR Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) is the Closing Night Gala. The Guest Artistic Director is Agnès Varda. The previously announced FOXCATCHER Premiere is no longer part of the AFI FEST program, due to the shift of the film’s release date to 2014.