News & Updates
December 29, 2019
South Korean director Bong Joon Ho has a major hit — and an Academy Awards frontrunner — on his hands with “Parasite.” The dark comedy has earned more than $22 million in the United States alone, adding to a worldwide total topping $126 million. Poised to take home the Best International Feature Oscar on February 9, “Parasite” has also led myriad best-of-the-year lists from critics, including among IndieWire’s own staff.
And while the film has been dissected and discussed ad infinitum since opening October, proving to be one of those rare talked-about movies that delivers on its hype, audiences will soon have a chance to see the film in a whole new way. Next month, a black-and-white version of “Parasite” will be presented at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in South Holland.
The Film Stage points out that Bong has always wanted to make a film in the format. Bong previously experimented with the medium back in 2013, when he presented a black-and-white reimagining of his 2009 drama “Mother” at the Mar Del Plata International Film Festival. At a later Q&A about the black-and-white version of “Mother,” Bong said he was inspired by the potential of shooting that way after watching a screening of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent horror movie “Nosferatu.” “It was a very purified experience,” Bong said, harking back to “a very pure state of film, like a salmon swimming upstream.”
Bong isn’t the first director to re-filter one of his films in black and white, as director George Miller previously did so with his action epic “Mad Max: Fury Road” — another movie landing back in the conversation as it tops many of the best-of-the-decade lists currently unspooling as 2019 comes to a close. In 2017, director James Mangold released “Logan Noir,” his black-and-white version of the superhero film starring Hugh Jackman. The home-video release of Frank Darabont’s Stephen King adaptation “The Mist” also received a black-and-white update.
The Blu-ray of “Parasite” arrives January 28, about a week ahead of the 2020 Academy Awards, but there’s no word yet on whether that disc will include the black-and-white remix. You can still see “Parasite” in its full-color version, still hanging on in theaters and expected to receive continued play through the end of Oscar season in February.
Source: IndieWire film
December 29, 2019
“1917” (Universal) is the standout new limited release, placing it among the best of the year and boosting its upcoming dates and awards chances. “Just Mercy” (Warner Bros.) and “Clemency” (Neon), both serious dramas focusing on the death penalty, weren’t as strong but each performed at the levels expected.
“Uncut Gems” (A24), hardly typical wide-release holiday fare, also stood out, with $20 million so far with five days of wide release added to its initial strong limited start.
Of note: “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story,” and “The Two Popes” — Netflix’s three awards contenders — are all down to minimal theater play (though New York and Los Angeles full-page newspaper ads convey otherwise). Spot-checking grosses, it appears all are now getting all their viewing via streaming. By comparison, “Roma” was adding theaters at this point (with a slightly later debut).
1917 (Universal) – Metacritic: 80
$570,000 in 11 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $51,818; Cumulative: $1,008,000
Universal took a chance with a seven-city initial platform release for Sam Mendes’ World War I-set film in advance of its January 10 wide break and to position it for high-end Oscar chances. The weekend totals are outstanding when seven theaters outside New York/Los Angeles are added — even more when they come after two days of initial holiday play.
With an A Cinemascore and strong holds confirming positive word of mouth, a drill down of the numbers places its performance at its four core New York/Los Angeles theaters a little under $90,000 for three days. Again, that’s lower than if it opened conventionally on Friday. But it also comes at a time of maximum demand on screens and seats. So although it isn’t a year’s best (both “Parasite” and “Uncut Gems” started better) it’s still impressive.
Among its 11 theaters, it bested “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” at some of the top locations, suggesting this is no big-city limited audience-only film.
War films have platformed at Christmas before – Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” on its way to a $400 million domestic run, but also the $100 million+ “Lone Survivor.” These initial numbers don’t guarantee a result in that range, but particularly with its Oscar boost ahead, prospects are excellent.
What comes next: January 10 sees the wide break.
Just Mercy (Warner Bros.) – Metacritic: 67; Festivals include: Toronto 2019
$110,000 in 4 theaters; PTA: $27,500; Cumulative: $228,000
Warner Bros. platformed this death-row defense true story with Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx for two reasons. First is to qualify for awards, with Foxx a serious contender for a supporting actor nomination. The second is to get initial attention ahead of its January 10 wide release. Playing at top New York/Los Angeles theaters, this didn’t have the impact of “1917” but hit its marks even with good-not-great reviews. The star power as well as Foxx’s potential nomination both should help it get it significant attention when it widens.
What comes next: The national break for this also is January 10.
Clemency (Neon) – Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Sundance, Toronto 2019
$37,078 in 2 theaters; PTA: $18,539
The Sundance Grand Jury Dramatic film prize winner from last January (with some prime festival exposure since) opened in two New York/Los Angeles theaters Friday to a modest number, but still with enough initial response to launch its slower rollout ahead. One key thing it accomplished was getting Alfre Woodard, acclaimed for her performance as a warden at a death-row prison, qualified for a possible Oscar nomination (her performance, though not yet recognized by groups, has received as strong critical attention as any contender).
In its two theaters (the Angelika in New York and The Landmark in Los Angeles), this had the disadvantage of opening after all other releases. It faces competition both for seats and for screens. That makes this initial number for a film with a heavy subject and like “Just Mercy” good but not exceptional reviews more impressive.
What comes next: This adds theaters in its first two markets this Friday, top markets on January 10, then adding dates in the weeks after.
The Song of Names (Sony Pictures Classics) – Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Toronto 2019
$41,156 in 10 theaters; PTA: $4,116; Cumulative: $78,770
Francois Girard, who directed the arthouse hit “The Red Violin” in 1998, directed this film with Clive Owen and Tim Roth about a prodigy son of Holocaust victims who disappears just as he is about to score as a performer and his friend who tracks him down. This Canadian production (Girard is Quebecois, though this is in English) opened in New York, Los Angeles, and three cities north of the border to mediocre reviews and modest interest.
What comes next: The story and cast should gain this a toehold ahead, enhanced by SPC backing which ensures in maximum appropriate theater play.
Ip Man 4: The Finale (Well Go USA) – Metacritic: 62
$1,034,000 in 70 theaters; PTA: $14,771; Cumulative: $1,444,000
The conclusion of this popular Chinese franchise starring Donnie Yen, directed by Wilson Yip, is set in the U.S. At home it was positioned to play at the prime year-end date, with parallel North American release yielding at excellent five-day result at appropriate theaters nationwide.
What comes next: This likely remains limited, but it should gain some further interest.
Invisible Life (Amazon)
$6,202 in 2 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,101; Cumulative: $21,137
Karim Ainouz’s well-regarded Brazilian family drama continues to struggle to get attention despite holiday play at two prime New York and Los Angeles specialized theaters.
Ongoing/expanding (grosses over $50,000)
Uncut Gems (A24) Week 3
$9,553,000 in 2,341 theaters (+2,336); Cumulative: $20,002,000
Here’s a bet no one would have taken a month ago: The Safdie Bros. made a film that outgrosses “Cats,” “Bombshell” and “Richard Jewell” on Christmas week. However, anyone would now believe that it will best the domestic total for all of those films. The gross comes with a C+ Cinemascore, but one that likely came from a combination of polarized reactions. This has some ways to go to becoming A24’s biggest domestic success (“Hereditary” at $44 million), but that is no longer impossible. All of this will also help its Oscar chances.
Bombshell (Lionsgate) Week 3
$4,700,000 in 1,480 theaters (no change); Cumulative: $15,631,000
This is a weekend when older-audience releases often see an increase over their pre-holiday numbers. However, this dropped 8% from its initial numbers, which were adequate but not stellar. The film is lagging behind “Vice,” which opened on Christmas Day last year.
Parasite (Neon) Week 12
$552,957 in 170 theaters (-57); Cumulative: $22,329,000
Though competition for top screens is fierce, and many of its theaters had less-than-full show times, this South Korean crossover success scored an over-$3,000 PTA this weekend after three months in play. And it has the boost of certain Oscar notice ahead.
Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight) Week 11
$250,000 in 155 theaters (-85); Cumulative: $20,917,000
Taika Waititi’s controversial film also has retained some screens late in its runs; it hopes to rebound with awards attention.
A Hidden Life (Fox Searchlight) Week 3
$208,000 in 118 theaters (+12); Cumulative: $756,065
Unfortunately, this might be the high-water mark for Terrence Malick’s most recent film. This World War II story of religious-based resistance to the Nazis has gained passionate support among some critics and the director’s core fans. But the general interest is negligible, despite opening at the best possible time and top placement across the country.
Dark Waters (Focus) Week 6
$175,000 in 140 theaters (-331); Cumulative: $10,532,000
Todd Haynes’ dark business drama starring Mark Ruffalo hasn’t gotten the attention of some other late-year releases, but has seen some delayed positive social media response as people catch up with titles. It still has enough theater exposure to add to its over $10 million total.
Harriet (Focus) Week 9
$130,00 in 112 theaters (-91); Cumulative: $42,481,000
Also maintaining a presence, and waiting for the Oscar nominations to confirm a likely Cynthia Erivo Best Actress nod, “Harriet” is already a big success. Opening early in the season was a smart move.
Pain and Glory (Sony Pictures Classics) – $47,899 in 41 theaters; Cumulative: $3,855,000
63 Up (Britbox) – $33,810in 17 theaters; Cumulative: $229,279
Source: IndieWire film
December 29, 2019
‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Writer Chris Terrio Says They Weren’t Trying to Sideline Rose Tico
A certain faction of “Star Wars” fans was not happy with the barely-there inclusion of Kelly Marie Tran’s scrappy Resistance fighter Rose Tico in “The Rise of Skywalker,” which is currently in theaters and being picked apart and obsessed over by critics and fans alike. Even “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu recently took to Twitter to call for a Disney+ spinoff series devoted to Rose, who originated in “The Last Jedi,” a la “The Mandalorian.”
In a new interview with Awards Daily, “The Rise of Skywalker” co-screenwriter Chris Terrio (who worked with J.J. Abrams from a story by Derek Connolly and shafted director Colin Trevorrow) addressed the apparent sidelining of Rose, who was a major supporting character in Rian Johnson’s “Last Jedi” in 2017. In “Skywalker,” she appears for all of one minute and 16 seconds, if you’re counting, out of a total runtime of two hours and 22 minutes. (Fans have even pointed out that Rose Tico’s sister has more screen time in “The Last Jedi” — her character appears in the opening scene and is killed off — than Rose does in “The Rise of Skywalker.”)
“Well, first of all, J.J. and I adore Kelly Marie Tran,” Terrio told Awards Daily, explaining how the amount of screen time given to Tran was actually cut because of how her character had to share scenes with the late Carrie Fisher.
“One of the reasons that Rose has a few less scenes than we would like her to have has to do with the difficulty of using Carrie [Fisher]’s footage in the way we wanted to. We wanted Rose to be the anchor at the rebel base who was with Leia. We thought we couldn’t leave Leia at the base without any of the principals who we love, so Leia and Rose were working together. As the process evolved, a few scenes we’d written with Rose and Leia turned out to not meet the standard of photorealism that we’d hoped for. Those scenes unfortunately fell out of the film,” Terrio said.
“The last thing we were doing was deliberately trying to sideline Rose. We adore the character, and we adore Kelly — so much so that we anchored her with our favorite person in this galaxy, General Leia,” he said, echoing support for the fan-favorite character of Rose.
Back in November, a pre-release interview with Tran foreshadowed her limited screen time in “The Rise of Skywalker.” Tran said she was excited for “Star Wars” fans to see Rose and Daisy Ridley’s series protagonist Rey interact, but those scenes don’t exist in “Rise of Skywalker.”
Source: IndieWire film
December 29, 2019
Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” has certainly been in the conversation this past holiday week — from finding success at the box office despite its decidedly non-mainstream appeal, to sparking a New York Times opinion piece about how men are allegedly dismissing the film. Gerwig’s refreshingly modern spin on the Louisa May Alcott classic — which charts the personal, romantic, and professional highs and lows of the March sisters and their coming of age in post-Civil War New England — infuses the ensemble period piece with a contemporary sensibility that ushers this much-tread literary landmark into the hearts and minds of a new generation.
Now, you can read the full screenplay for the film online, as shared by Variety, here. Gerwig structures the film across two timelines that flow seamlessly together, so we see the four March sisters as strong-willed teenagers and twentysomethings, as well as younger, and perhaps not yet as wise. The screenplay shows the clear path Gerwig laid out for her characters.
Gerwig has, throughout the awards season, stressed the modernity already inherent to Alcott’s tome. “So much of the book is about money, and women, and art and money, and how do you make art if you don’t have money? When I went in to talk about the book, I said, ‘This is what I feel this film is really about,’” Gerwig said when the film first screened. “People remember the book as this pre-Victorian reality of everything being all tied up, but embedded in that is a lot [where] you forget how messy and wild it is.”
Gerwig also told IndieWire’s Anne Thompson, “The audience is nostalgic for the same things they are. The book is the golden snow globe of childhood and memory. The movie’s not so much a flashback as everything is moving forward together. I wanted it to feel heightened, like you’re opening a jewel box, you’d want to live inside of it and eat it, there was magic to it, like the world was right in this coziness. It’s one way to tell the audience that the film is in control, it’s not just an intravenous experience of the story; something else is going on. All artists preserve the moment by writing it down. Whether it’s ‘The 400 Blows,’ ‘Amarcord’ or ‘Fanny and Alexander,’ they’re capturing this thing that is already gone.”
Here’s the full screenplay available to read.
Source: IndieWire film
December 29, 2019
While Amazon Studios’ “The Report” is no longer looking like a formidable Academy Awards contender, the film has nonetheless generated conversation and controversy a la 2012’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” Released in the United States in mid-November, “The Report” dramatizes the U.S. Senate’s investigation of counterterrorist torture tactics employed by the CIA following the September 11 attacks. Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter to trumpet his thoughts about the film, which he calls “fiction.”
I watched “The Report.” Fiction. To be clear: the bad guys are not our intelligence warriors. The bad guys are the terrorists. To my former colleagues and all of the patriots at @CIA who have kept us safe since 9/11: America supports you, defends you and has your back. So do I.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 27, 2019
In the film, Adam Driver plays Daniel Jones, who headed up the investigation under the direction of Senator Dianne Feinstein, played by Annette Bening. The film is explicit in showing the torture methods used by the CIA to glean information from suspected terrorists. According to Deadline, “The Report” director Scott Z. Burns has released a statement defending his film against the claims of Mike Pompeo.
In his statement, Burns referenced the Panetta Review, an internal document by the CIA that cast a harsh light on the government’s interrogation strategy. That document is discovered by Daniel Jones in “The Report.”
“I am grateful to Secretary of State Pompeo for taking the time to watch ‘The Report’ movie on Amazon Prime,” Burns said in the statement. “I hope he will go back and read the [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] report as well. I am interested in knowing what part he finds to be fiction and I ask him to join me in calling for the release of the Panetta Review which the CIA conducted into the [enhanced interrogation technique] program so that this dispute can be resolved.”
Finally, Burns said, “I agree with him that terrorists are bad guys — as are the people who conducted barbaric and ineffective acts of torture in the name of Mr. Pompeo’s misguided notion of ‘Patriotism’ and then misled Congress and the American people.”
“The Report” is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Source: IndieWire film
December 28, 2019
Virtual reality isn’t cheap, but upgrading what you have can be more economical than buying new. While my HTC Vive has languished on the floor for months at a time, perhaps some accessories can teach me to love VR once again.
Source: Digital Trends VR
December 27, 2019
Hollywood has changed drastically over the last ten years, mostly thanks to the forward-thinking of Netflix. But what’s going to happen in the next ten years?
Over the last decade, Hollywood seems to have gotten smaller. As Disney absorbs everything under the sun, and smaller studios fold, one company has risen above the rest, and fundamentally changed the way we watch movies and television.
That company is Netflix.
Yeah, the place that started as Blockbuster’s main competition has forged its path and become one of the most influential names in the business.
December 27, 2019
It’s wild to think a movie like Men in Black, that spawned a franchise could still claim it has made no money. But creative accounting has rendered it so.
Movie accounting is famously fickle and shady. When your agent or lawyer negotiates for the back end of a movie, there’s little chance you’ll ever see it even if that movie is a massive hit. The reason is that accounts use lots of convenient math to make it look like their films are not a hit.
This allows studios to avoid paying residuals and take tax write-offs for depreciating assets.
Recently, writer Ed Solomon took to Twitter to talk about how in the 22 years and four franchise films since the original Men in Black, Sony still claims that film is in the red.
This is a crazy statement, but it indicates the guarded truth about working on big-budget movies.
It’s not just Men in Black; other filmmakers chimed in with similar stories.
December 26, 2019
The Last Jedi introduced audiences to Rose Tico, a gentle soul who valued love over everything else. The Rise of Skywalker only put her on-screen for a little over one minute. Why?
STAR WARS: RISE OF SKYWALKER SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
Star Wars movies come with opinions.
It’s incredible to think about what an impact movies like these have on popular culture. One of the most talked-about roles in The Last Jedi was Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico. Rose’s sister dies in the opening of the film, and instead of seeking revenge, Rose’s arc becomes protecting what her sister was fighting for and the man she came to love, Finn.
Depending on how you landed on The Last Jedi, you either loved or hated Rose.
But despite your feelings, I think it is inarguable that she was one of the most important members of that film. Would it surprise you to know that Rose appears on screen for 10 minutes and 53 seconds of The Last Jedi’s 2 hours and 32 minutes?
It surprised me.
December 26, 2019
Learn how Cathy Yan pitched her way into the director’s chair for one of the most anticipated DC Comics films of 2020.
After lukewarm critical reviews but a box office bonanza, Suicide Squad had a lot of figuring out to do. But one thing everyone loved from the film was Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn. She was fun, crazy, and unpredictable. It felt like the role she was born to play.
So when Robbie’s character got her spinoff movie, she and the other producers of the project knew they’d need someone capable and exciting to help her make the best film possible.
Enter Cathy Yan.
Cathy had directed a Sundance movie called Dead Pigs that was loved by audience members, particularly Margot Robbie.
But what made Robbie think Yan was ready to take on Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn, which is a helluva title and a ton of pressure for even a seasoned filmmaker.
The answer was Yan’s pitch.