Tituss Burgess

(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic))

Tituss Burgess was a staple – and standout – on Broadway long before the world came to know and love him as Titus Andromedon on Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Show-stopping turns in stage productions of Good VibrationsThe Wiz, and in The Little Mermaid, where he originated the role of Sebastian, earned him acclaim in the New York theater set, and set him up perfectly for his breakout role as naive Kimmy’s woefully unhelpful, penny-pinching, scene-stealing bestie, Titus – who also just happened to be an aspiring Broadway star, allowing the showrunners to showcase Burgess’s vocal talents to often hilarious effect.

The Kimmy Schmidt role would earn him five Emmy nominations and open the door for new projects in which showed fans different shades to his talent: among them a lead role as Cole in Apple TV+’s acclaimed animated series Central Park and a part in the ensemble cast of the Certified Fresh Dolemite Is My Name, alongside Eddie Murphy. (He also hosted game show Dishmantled on the short-lived Quibi platform, in which contestants had to examine and taste the remains of an exploded meal and then try to recreate the dish that had just been blown-up. It was hilarious and one of the few genuinely critically acclaimed offerings the ill-fated Quibi had on offer.)

This week, Burgess shows us yet another side of his formidable talent. In Respect, the long-anticipated biopic about Aretha Franklin, he plays Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, gospel legend and mentor and friend to the Queen of Soul. His chemistry with co-star Jennifer Hudson, and soulful take on a music icon so familiar to Black churchgoers, has critics citing him as one of the movie’s standouts. Ahead of the release of Respect in theaters, Burgess sat with Rotten Tomatoes to talk about forging a connection with Hudson, why he’s never afraid of a role – no matter how big – and to share the five movies that mean the most to him.


Tituss Burgess’s Five Favorite Films


Terms of Endearment (1983)

78%

I was a kid when I saw that with my mom. My mother had very sophisticated tastes in movies, and a strange barometer for what she thought I could handle. But I took to it, and it sort of colored what I’ve been attracted to. You wouldn’t know it given what I do on camera, but the dramatic sensibility and the ethos and pathos that is embedded in that movie is just unmatched. Shirley MacLaine, I still think, is just as good now as she was then. And of course, I came to know her by Sweet Charity. That’s a whole other story. I just think it’s a wonderful, heartbreaking story about family and family dynamics and making the best soup you can out of… rotten tomatoes.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

98%

Perhaps for obvious reasons, but it is magical! Of course, there’s our dear Judy Garland, but each one of those characters leave you with something to chew on. And I came to know it at a very young age, as many people do, and went on to do it in middle school. I played the Lion, so I love that one.

The Wiz (1978)

41%

I came to love that obviously because of its cultural impact and being able to see so many brown bodies on camera and taking that story and showing how storytelling is storytelling, it doesn’t matter what we look like. But it does matter what we look like, particularly if there is no representation where there should be. So it left me with a whole different type of magic and feeling that I could ease on down the road if I wanted to and didn’t have to follow the yellow brick road if I didn’t want to.

Rotten Tomatoes: You mentioned you played the Lion in the Wizard of Oz…

I also played the Lion in The Wiz.

Rotten Tomatoes: Is the Lion the character that you most relate to – or are there other Oz characters you see yourself in?

I think the Lion and Dorothy. I think Dorothy is closest to the Lion. I think there’s something about her tenacity. One or two things happen [in life]: either you make hard decisions because you are brave, or you had to make hard decisions because you were so afraid that you were ambushed into making the hard decision. And Dorothy was ambushed. She had no other choice. And I think the Lion is the physical manifestation of the latter, and I think that is why she latches onto him. She’s extremely smart. She figures out things very easily, and she’s obviously full of empathy, otherwise she wouldn’t have brought all these people with her on a journey to get something that she needed. So I think the Lion is the best character in it, outside of Dorothy.

Meryl Streep. Full stop. What else is there to say? It’s just so fun.

Parasite (2019)

98%

It just managed to seamlessly marry everything on the emotional spectrum and everything on the cinematic spectrum, just with a great effortlessness. It held my attention, and I think we in this country horribly undervalue film from overseas, and that’s so arrogant of us, but it is what it is. [The first time I watched it was at home] during quarantine. I had heard about it, but I was like, “Oh, yeah, I’ll get around to it.” And there was one afternoon I was like, “Well, I might as well put this on and see what it’s about.” And what I heard about it was not what I experienced, which I’m grateful for. I was able to have an authentic reaction to what I saw. I was home on the couch with my dogs and they are quiet for nothing, and they were glued to the TV, too. So it transcends species.


Joel Meares for Rotten Tomatoes: This performance is amazing, and I think people are going to be surprised and delighted by what you do in Respect. Can you talk a little bit about the real-life musician you play, Reverend Dr. James Cleveland? I know you, like many, were very familiar with his work growing up. How did his music and story first enter your life?

Tituss Burgess: Not entirely unlike many people of color from the South in a particular age bracket [I knew his work from a young age]. At the time of the birth of gospel music, before it began to be lured into this hybrid pop sound that we hear today, where gospel music was a handful of groups – the Clark Sisters, and several pastors who travel with their choirs, as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland did, and, of course, Aretha later on. But long before Aretha became “Aretha,” Dr. Cleveland had already very much established himself as a formidable part of the fabric of American gospel music.

Respect - Tituss Burgess

(Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert /© MGM)

And we sang his music, at least one of his songs, every Sunday. There was a moment where his music became so, not popular, but so much a part of the protocol of church service that a few of his songs began to find themselves in hymns as staples. And it was then that I sort of realized: “Oh, this man doesn’t just write chart toppers!” The African American church respects him on such a level that we are to carry him for all the ages. You’re not going to find “Shackles” by Mary Mary in a hymnbook. And I love their music, don’t get me wrong. But when we’re discussing respect and what it does for the culture, there is a paradigm shift when you mention his name and his influence.

Rotten Tomatoes: So then knowing that influence and how largely he loomed in your life and in the culture, as you said, was there any trepidation or nervousness about taking on the role?

Burgess: No, no. I have lived, and nothing scares me anymore, and I cannot control how consumers consume or how people watch or how people listen. I can only make the best meal out of the ingredients that I’m given. And that is how I approach every single role. That’s it. Full stop.

Rotten Tomatoes: People are so familiar with you from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And the last thing I had watched you in was Dishmantled, which I absolutely loved. I think a lot of people will see you here and say, “Okay, this is a very different mode.” And I think one of the things that’s really great about this film is not just your vocals and performance, but the relationship between Aretha and the Reverend, and between yourself and Jennifer. Can can talk about the bond that your character had with Aretha in real life and then how you recreated that with Jennifer onscreen?

Burgess: Sure. Dr. Cleveland gave Aretha piano lessons when she was a kid; he was already an adult and already a pastor. So imagine that dynamic: This grown man and a little girl, and having her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, respecting Dr. Cleveland enough and his influence – you follow me – in the world to go, “Oh, I think what you house and the connection and the source that you subscribe to, I want that influence in my daughter.” So their relationship transcended music. It was a big brother/little sister type of relationship, and, of course, later when Aretha became a grown woman, there was a leveling ground. And when Aretha came into her composer self and when Aretha came into her musician self, there was a level of respect and a hands-off-ness that Dr. Cleveland had to acknowledge and both perform and adhere to when it came to the shift in their relationship.

That said, that sort of informed how I related to young Aretha and how I related to older Aretha. Jennifer and I met when she was doing The Color Purple [on Broadway], but very, very briefly. And… the one thing I do get nervous about is energy and what type of energy I’m about to walk into because I just want the energy to serve the project. And sometimes they say, “Never meet your idols because it destroys how you see and think of them.” But this was not the case with Ms. Hudson. We were fast friends, and what I loved most about her was that she has an insatiable appetite to learn, and she doesn’t lead with her résumé or her credentials or the prowess of her voice and the largeness of her gift, but rather with her heart and her desire to learn. And it makes for an irresistible offering. And so it was easy to transform that and pour that into our on-camera chemistry.

Rotten Tomatoes: And just finally, what was the feeling when you were recreating the “Amazing Grace” performance that we see in this film [famously documented in the celebrated album and recently released documentary], which is so iconic and people are so familiar with? I just can’t imagine what it was like to be there on set and do that.

Burgess: I’ll tell you what it was like. We were not aware of the cameras. They were not a part of what we were summoning. We were having church, as we know it, and you guys were just privy to seeing it. It was a church service. We sang the same songs. We wore similar clothes. We had similar camera setups, but there is no way to fake the authenticity of that type of worship service. So that’s what it was like.


Respect is in theaters from Friday August 13, 2021. 


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Thumbnail: Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic, © Neon, © 2oth Century Fox Film Corp, © Paramount, courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Jonny Cournoyer / © Paramount Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection)

All Emily Blunt Movies Ranked

Emily Blunt‘s first two Rotten Tomatoes-rated movies were Certified Fresh: My Summer of Love, which you’ve never heard of, and The Devil Wears Prada, which you definitely have. The $124-million grossing and decidedly unromantic comedy paved a path for more female-led films and served as a launching vector for actresses like Anne Hathaway and Blunt. Her appearances in high-profile Charlie Wilson’s War, The Wolfman and The Muppets kept the momentum going, but it wasn’t until releasing Looper that Blunt got that most coveted of validations: internet fan cred. Following that up with Edge of Tomorrow and A Quiet Place has cemented her image of poise and natural radiant strength. She was Mary Poppins, y’all.She was even Tempest Shadow in My Little Pony: The Movie. That’s cross-generational.

In 2021, she set course with A Quiet Place Part II and Jungle Cruise. Wee where those two land as we rank Emily Blunt movies by Tomatometer!

#32
Adjusted Score: 32631%
Critics Consensus: The Huntsman: Winter's War is visually arresting and boasts a stellar cast, but neither are enough to recommend this entirely unnecessary sequel.
Synopsis: Betrayed by her evil sister Ravenna (Charlize Theron), heartbroken Freya (Emily Blunt) retreats to a northern kingdom to raise an... [More]
Directed By: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

#31

Arthur Newman (2012)
20%

#31
Adjusted Score: 20283%
Critics Consensus: Despite the natural charisma of its leads, Arthur Newman does little with its intriguing setup, and the result is bland and unconvincing.
Synopsis: Frustrated with his boring life, Wallace Avery (Colin Firth) fakes his own death and sets out to make a new... [More]
Directed By: Dante Ariola

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 23143%
Critics Consensus: Though Jack Black is back doing what he does best, Gulliver's Travels largely fails to do any justice to its source material, relying instead on juvenile humor and special effects.
Synopsis: Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) works in a mailroom at a city newspaper. While he is on an assignment in the... [More]
Directed By: Rob Letterman

#29

Sherlock Gnomes (2018)
27%

#29
Adjusted Score: 29305%
Critics Consensus: Sherlock Gnomes is sadly, utterly stumped by the mystery of the reason for its own existence.
Synopsis: When Gnomeo and Juliet first arrive in London with their friends and family, their biggest concern is getting a new... [More]
Directed By: John Stevenson

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 33726%
Critics Consensus: Fatally undermined by dodgy accents and a questionable story, Wild Mountain Thyme is a baffling misfire for a talented filmmaker and impressive cast.
Synopsis: John Patrick Shanley, who created the classic MOONSTRUCK, brings his sweeping romantic vision to Ireland with Wild Mountain Thyme. The... [More]
Directed By: John Patrick Shanley

#27

Wild Target (2010)
33%

#27
Adjusted Score: 33338%
Critics Consensus: An ineptly staged farce that dishonors the original film and squanders the comedic potential of its fine actors.
Synopsis: Longing to get out of the assassination business, a hit man (Bill Nighy) decides not to follow through with his... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Lynn

#26

The Wolfman (2010)
34%

#26
Adjusted Score: 41436%
Critics Consensus: Suitably grand and special effects-laden, The Wolfman suffers from a suspense-deficient script and a surprising lack of genuine chills.
Synopsis: Though absent from his ancestral home of Blackmoor for many years, aristocrat Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns to find... [More]
Directed By: Joe Johnston

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 63682%
Critics Consensus: Emily Blunt's outstanding performance isn't enough to keep The Girl on the Train from sliding sluggishly into exploitative melodrama.
Synopsis: Commuter Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) catches daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple, Scott and Megan, from the window of... [More]
Directed By: Tate Taylor

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 50182%
Critics Consensus: Charming and sweet, My Little Pony: The Movie will please its dedicated fanbase, even if it's unlikely to encourage non-devotees to gallop along for the ride.
Synopsis: Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Rarity embark on an epic journey to save Ponyville from a... [More]
Directed By: Jayson Thiessen

#23

Wind Chill (2007)
46%

#23
Adjusted Score: 45148%
Critics Consensus: Wind Chill is a ghost story with a clunky and unpolished script that fails to keep viewers in suspense.
Synopsis: Just before their university campus goes quiet for the winter break, a young woman (Emily Blunt) asks a classmate (Ashton... [More]
Directed By: Gregory Jacobs

#22

Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)
55%

#22
Adjusted Score: 59557%
Critics Consensus: While it has moments of inspiration, Gnomeo and Juliet is often too self-referential for its own good.
Synopsis: In Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare, Miss Capulet and Mr. Montague feud over whose garden is the better. Garden gnomes... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Asbury

#21

Jungle Cruise (2021)
62%

#21
Adjusted Score: 79479%
Critics Consensus: Its craft isn't quite as sturdy as some of the classic adventures it's indebted to, but Jungle Cruise remains a fun, family-friendly voyage.
Synopsis: Join fan favorites Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt for the adventure of a lifetime on Disney's JUNGLE CRUISE, a rollicking... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 70426%
Critics Consensus: While certainly overlong, The Five-Year Engagement benefits from the easy chemistry of its leads and a funny, romantic script with surprising depth and intelligence.
Synopsis: On their one-year anniversary, sous chef Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) plans to surprise his girlfriend, Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt), with... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller

#19

Dan in Real Life (2007)
65%

#19
Adjusted Score: 71159%
Critics Consensus: The fine performances elevate Dan in Real Life beyond its sentimental plot.
Synopsis: Dan Burns (Steve Carell), a widower and advice columnist, meets a beautiful stranger (Juliette Binoche) in a bookstore and is... [More]
Directed By: Peter Hedges

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 70201%
Critics Consensus: Though at times formulaic and sentimental, Jane Austen Book Club succeeds on the strength of its likable ensemble cast. Even those not familiar with Jane Austen's work may find much to enjoy this lighthearted romance.
Synopsis: Six Californians (Maria Bello, Amy Brenneman, Emily Blunt) form a book club devoted to studying the works of the 19th-century... [More]
Directed By: Robin Swicord

#17
Adjusted Score: 72110%
Critics Consensus: Quirky and a little reserved, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is nonetheless a charming little romantic drama sold by some strong central performances.
Synopsis: Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) is a fisheries scientist who one day receives an unusual request: A businesswoman named Harriet... [More]
Directed By: Lasse Hallström

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 74278%
Critics Consensus: By turns fluffy and biting, this show biz comedy is given girth by comic heavyweight John Malkovich and made all the more charming by Emily Blunt.
Synopsis: Defying his father and dropping out of law school, aspiring writer Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) looks for a way to... [More]
Directed By: Sean McGinly

#15

Into the Woods (2014)
71%

#15
Adjusted Score: 80570%
Critics Consensus: On the whole, this Disney adaptation of the Sondheim classic sits comfortably at the corner of Hollywood and Broadway -- even if it darkens to its detriment in the final act.
Synopsis: As the result of the curse of a once-beautiful witch (Meryl Streep), a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily... [More]
Directed By: Rob Marshall

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 81244%
Critics Consensus: First-time writer/director George Nolfi struggles to maintain a consistent tone, but The Adjustment Bureau rises on the strong, believable chemistry of its stars.
Synopsis: Just as he is on the brink of winning a Senate seat, politician David Norris (Matt Damon) meets a ballerina... [More]
Directed By: George Nolfi

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 81144%
Critics Consensus: Despite a sometimes overly familiar plot, Sunshine Cleaning benefits from the lively performances of its two stars.
Synopsis: Though they once seemed to have a bright future, life seems to be passing by the Norkowski sisters. Rose (Amy... [More]
Directed By: Christine Jeffs

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 83337%
Critics Consensus: A rare film that surpasses the quality of its source novel, this Devil is a witty expose of New York's fashion scene, with Meryl Streep in top form and Anne Hathaway more than holding her own.
Synopsis: Andy (Anne Hathaway) is a recent college graduate with big dreams. Upon landing a job at prestigious Runway magazine, she... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 82100%
Critics Consensus: Emily Blunt shines as Victoria in this romantic but plodding royal portrait.
Synopsis: As the only legitimate heir of England's King William, teenage Victoria (Emily Blunt) gets caught up in the political machinations... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 102222%
Critics Consensus: Mary Poppins Returns relies on the magic of its classic forebear to cast a familiar -- but still solidly effective -- family-friendly spell.
Synopsis: Now an adult with three children, bank teller Michael Banks learns that his house will be repossessed in five days... [More]
Directed By: Rob Marshall

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 89767%
Critics Consensus: Charlie Wilson's War manages to entertain and inform audiences, thanks to its witty script and talented cast of power players.
Synopsis: In the 1980s U.S.Rep. Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks), Texas socialite Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) and CIA agent Gust Avrakotos (Philip... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 88826%
Critics Consensus: Superbly acted and satisfyingly engaging, Your Sister's Sister subverts rom-com conventions with sensitive direction, an unconventional screenplay, and a big heart.
Synopsis: A man (Mark Duplass) falls into bed with his best friend's (Emily Blunt) sister (Rosemarie DeWitt), leading to an unexpected... [More]
Directed By: Lynn Shelton

#7

The Wind Rises (2013)
88%

#7
Adjusted Score: 95365%
Critics Consensus: The Wind Rises is a fittingly bittersweet swan song for director Hayao Miyazaki.
Synopsis: A lifelong love of flight inspires Japanese aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi, whose storied career includes the creation of the A-6M... [More]

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 93156%
Critics Consensus: My Summer of Love is a moody, bittersweet love story featuring outstanding performances from the leads.
Synopsis: When upper-class Tamsin (Emily Blunt) meets working-class Mona (Natalie Press) they are immediately drawn to each other. Although coming from... [More]
Directed By: Paul Pavlikovsky

#5

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 104406%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, well-acted, funny, and clever, Edge of Tomorrow offers entertaining proof that Tom Cruise is still more than capable of shouldering the weight of a blockbuster action thriller.
Synopsis: When Earth falls under attack from invincible aliens, no military unit in the world is able to beat them. Maj.... [More]
Directed By: Doug Liman

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 110594%
Critics Consensus: A nerve-wracking continuation of its predecessor, A Quiet Place Part II expands the terrifying world of the franchise without losing track of its heart.
Synopsis: Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family must now face the terrors of the outside world as they... [More]
Directed By: John Krasinski

#3

Sicario (2015)
92%

#3
Adjusted Score: 102548%
Critics Consensus: Led by outstanding work from Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro, Sicario is a taut, tightly wound thriller with much more on its mind than attention-getting set pieces.
Synopsis: After rising through the ranks of her male-dominated profession, idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) receives a top assignment.... [More]
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve

#2

Looper (2012)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 103710%
Critics Consensus: As thought-provoking as it is thrilling, Looper delivers an uncommonly smart, bravely original blend of futuristic sci-fi and good old-fashioned action.
Synopsis: In a future society, time-travel exists, but it's only available to those with the means to pay for it on... [More]
Directed By: Rian Johnson

#1

A Quiet Place (2018)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 118865%
Critics Consensus: A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that's as original as it is scary -- and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.
Synopsis: If they hear you, they hunt you. A family must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by... [More]
Directed By: John Krasinski

The Devil Wears Prada

(Photo by Brigitte Lacombe / TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail: Universal/courtesy Everett Collection.)

All Meryl Streep Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

Meryl Streep landed her first Oscar nomination for just her second on-screen role: 1978’s The Deer Hunter, opposite John Cazale. A few more performances after that and she’d find herself standing before Hollywood’s elite, accepting the gold trophy for her complex “villain” role in 1980’s Kramer vs. Kramer. Stardom came within that decade, as she made her mark across disparate films and genres, becoming versatility personified in the acting game, as featured in a Best Picture winner (Out of Africa), rom-coms (Heartburn), political social thrillers (Silkwood), dramas (Sophie’s Choice), and period pieces (Ironweed).

This canny ability to wedge and dissolve into roles that sparked her attention has been rewarded with a record 21 Oscar nominations over decades, winning three for Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, and The Iron Lady. Yes, there were noms for so-called Oscar bait like Doubt, The Post, and the actually-Rotten Iron Lady, but Streep pulled nominations out of more unique genres, like musicals (Into the Woods), broad comedies (The Devil Wears Prada, Florence Foster Jenkins), and wherever you want to categorize Adaptation.

Streep’s most recent films have been Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation, and the mostly-ignored The Laundromat. She must’ve enjoyed the Steven Soderbergh experience on Laundromat, because she’s teaming up with him again for comedy Let Them All Talk next. Additionally, she’s got another musical (along with the Mamma Mia! movies, they’ve been a late-career boon) in the works in The Prom, from Ryan Murphy. And now, we’re celebrating with all Meryl Streep movies, ranked by Tomatometer!

#58

Evening (2007)
27%

#58
Adjusted Score: 32191%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully filmed, but decidedly dull, Evening is a collossal waste of a talented cast.
Synopsis: Lying on her deathbed, drifting in and out of consciousness, Ann Grant Lord (Vanessa Redgrave) calls forth memories of her... [More]
Directed By: Lajos Koltai

#57

Lions for Lambs (2007)
27%

#57
Adjusted Score: 34879%
Critics Consensus: Despite its powerhouse cast, Lions for Lambs feels like a disjointed series of lectures, rather than a sharp narrative, and ends up falling flat.
Synopsis: Inspired by their idealistic professor, Dr. Mallery (Robert Redford), to do something meaningful with their lives, Arian (Derek Luke) and... [More]
Directed By: Robert Redford

#56
#56
Adjusted Score: 33008%
Critics Consensus: An enviable collection of sterling actors are all woefully miscast in The House of the Spirits, a plodding saga of magical realism that lacks much magic or realism.
Synopsis: A rancher (Jeremy Irons), his clairvoyant wife (Meryl Streep) and their family face turbulent years in South America.... [More]
Directed By: Bille August

#55

Before and After (1996)
32%

#55
Adjusted Score: 31360%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The lives of Carolyn Ryan (Meryl Streep), a small-town doctor, and her artist husband, Ben (Liam Neeson), are shaken up... [More]
Directed By: Barbet Schroeder

#54

The Giver (2014)
35%

#54
Adjusted Score: 40988%
Critics Consensus: Phillip Noyce directs The Giver with visual grace, but the movie doesn't dig deep enough into the classic source material's thought-provoking ideas.
Synopsis: Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a seemingly idyllic world of conformity and contentment. When he begins to spend time with... [More]
Directed By: Phillip Noyce

#53

She-Devil (1989)
40%

#53
Adjusted Score: 40940%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Housewife and mother Ruth Patchett (Roseanne Barr), an overweight and unkempt woman, can seem to do nothing to make her... [More]
Directed By: Susan Seidelman

#52

Dark Matter (2007)
40%

#52
Adjusted Score: 40820%
Critics Consensus: The creaky plotting, inscrutable characters, and unconvincing ending make it difficult for audiences to connect with Dark Matter.
Synopsis: Liu Xing (Ye Liu), a promising Chinese doctoral candidate accepted into an elite astronomy program in the United States, struggles... [More]
Directed By: Chen Shi-Zeng

#51

The Laundromat (2019)
40%

#51
Adjusted Score: 50219%
Critics Consensus: The Laundromat misuses its incredible cast by taking a disappointingly blunt and unfocused approach to dramatizing the real-life events that inspired it.
Synopsis: When her idyllic vacation takes an unthinkable turn, Ellen Martin begins investigating a fake insurance policy.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#50

Heartburn (1986)
45%

#50
Adjusted Score: 38204%
Critics Consensus: Despite an astonishing collection of talent across the board, Heartburn's aimless plot inspires mild indigestion instead of romantic ardor.
Synopsis: Rachel Samstat (Meryl Streep), a New York food critic, beds Mark Forman (Jack Nicholson), a Washington, D.C., newspaper columnist. The... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#49

Rendition (2007)
47%

#49
Adjusted Score: 53417%
Critics Consensus: The impressive cast cannot rescue Rendition, which explores complex issues in woefully simplified terms.
Synopsis: Isabella El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon), the wife of an Egyptian engineer, tries desperately to track down her husband after he disappears... [More]
Directed By: Gavin Hood

#48

Prime (2005)
50%

#48
Adjusted Score: 54272%
Critics Consensus: Though Streep is dependably terrific in her role, the rest of the movie is too sitcom-ish, and the romance itself is dull.
Synopsis: Rafi Gardet (Uma Thurman) is a 37-year-old divorced Catholic businesswoman falling for David (Bryan Greenberg), a 23-year-old Jewish artist. With... [More]
Directed By: Ben Younger

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 57232%
Critics Consensus: Hawn and Streep are as fabulous as Death Becomes Her's innovative special effects; Zemeckis' satire, on the other hand, is as hollow as the world it mocks.
Synopsis: When a novelist loses her man to a movie star and former friend, she winds up in a psychiatric hospital.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#46

The Iron Lady (2011)
52%

#46
Adjusted Score: 62062%
Critics Consensus: Meryl Streep's performance as The Iron Lady is reliably perfect, but it's mired in bland, self-important storytelling.
Synopsis: In her twilight years, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) reflects on her life and career as she... [More]
Directed By: Phyllida Lloyd

#45

Mamma Mia! (2008)
55%

#45
Adjusted Score: 61295%
Critics Consensus: This jukebox musical is full of fluffy fun but rough singing voices and a campy tone might not make you feel like "You Can Dance" the whole 90 minutes.
Synopsis: Donna (Meryl Streep), an independent hotelier in the Greek islands, is preparing for her daughter's wedding with the help of... [More]
Directed By: Phyllida Lloyd

#44

Plenty (1985)
56%

#44
Adjusted Score: 38033%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Susan Traherne (Meryl Streep) is trying to put find her purpose in the wake of World War II. After a... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#43

The River Wild (1994)
56%

#43
Adjusted Score: 56695%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Fast-paced thriller in which a young family on a white-water rafting adventure in Montana are taken hostage by a pair... [More]
Directed By: Curtis Hanson

#42

Falling in Love (1984)
58%

#42
Adjusted Score: 33323%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Commuting to Manhattan on the same train, two married strangers (Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep) meet by accident and have... [More]
Directed By: Ulu Grosbard

#41

Out of Africa (1985)
62%

#41
Adjusted Score: 69479%
Critics Consensus: Though lensed with stunning cinematography and featuring a pair of winning performances from Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, Out of Africa suffers from excessive length and glacial pacing.
Synopsis: Initially set on being a dairy farmer, the aristocratic Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) travels to Africa to join her husband,... [More]
Directed By: Sydney Pollack

#40

Ironweed (1987)
58%

#40
Adjusted Score: 59305%
Critics Consensus: Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep play masterfully off each, but Ironweed's unrelenting bleakness proves to be more monotonous than compelling.
Synopsis: In Depression-era Albany, N.Y., erstwhile baseball star Francis Phelan (Jack Nicholson) has become an alcoholic vagabond after guilt over accidentally... [More]
Directed By: Hector Babenco

#39

It's Complicated (2009)
58%

#39
Adjusted Score: 65316%
Critics Consensus: Despite fine work by an appealing cast, It's Complicated is predictable romantic comedy fare, going for broad laughs instead of subtlety and nuance.
Synopsis: Jane (Meryl Streep), a successful restaurateur, has been divorced from Jake (Alec Baldwin) for many years, although they remain friends.... [More]
Directed By: Nancy Meyers

#38

The Ant Bully (2006)
62%

#38
Adjusted Score: 65621%
Critics Consensus: Sometimes inventive and witty, this animated adventure into an ant-sized world is a pleasant diversion.
Synopsis: Tired of weathering constant attacks on their colony, ants shrink a destructive boy, named Lucas (Zach Tyler Eisen), to their... [More]
Directed By: John A. Davis

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 50498%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When one of his patients is found murdered, psychiatrist Dr. Sam Rice (Roy Scheider) is visited by the investigating officer... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 66628%
Critics Consensus: Meryl Streep's depiction of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things transcends, inspires, and entertains.
Synopsis: After being abandoned by her husband, depressed music teacher Roberta (Meryl Streep) lands a job teaching violin to underprivileged children... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 64134%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Kate Mundy (Meryl Streep) is the eldest of five sisters living together in a small house in Ireland in 1936.... [More]
Directed By: Pat O'Connor

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 71965%
Critics Consensus: Meryl Streep's outstanding work helps Ricki and the Flash overcome its inconsistent tone and fairly predictable premise.
Synopsis: It's been a roller-coaster ride for Ricki Rendazzo (Meryl Streep), a one-time wife and mother of three who left her... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 74723%
Critics Consensus: The sheer amount of acting going on in August: Osage County threatens to overwhelm, but when the actors involved are as talented as Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, it's difficult to complain.
Synopsis: The death and funeral of their father brings three sisters to the home of their mother, Violet (Meryl Streep), an... [More]
Directed By: John Wells

#32

Into the Woods (2014)
71%

#32
Adjusted Score: 80570%
Critics Consensus: On the whole, this Disney adaptation of the Sondheim classic sits comfortably at the corner of Hollywood and Broadway -- even if it darkens to its detriment in the final act.
Synopsis: As the result of the curse of a once-beautiful witch (Meryl Streep), a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily... [More]
Directed By: Rob Marshall

#31
Adjusted Score: 76697%
Critics Consensus: Although it softens the nasty edges of its source material, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a gothic visual treat, and it features a hilariously manic turn from Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf.
Synopsis: After the three young Baudelaire siblings are left orphaned by a fire in their mansion, they are carted off to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Silberling

#30

Suffragette (2015)
73%

#30
Adjusted Score: 80907%
Critics Consensus: Suffragette dramatizes an important -- and still painfully relevant -- fact-based story with more than enough craft and sincerity to overcome its flaws.
Synopsis: In early 20th-century Britain, the growing suffragette movement forever changes the life of working wife and mother Maud Watts (Carey... [More]
Directed By: Sarah Gavron

#29

Silkwood (1983)
76%

#29
Adjusted Score: 77499%
Critics Consensus: Silkwood seethes with real-life rage -- but backs it up with compelling characters and trenchant observations.
Synopsis: This drama is based on the true story of Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep), who works at a nuclear facility, along... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#28
Adjusted Score: 81841%
Critics Consensus: A curious, not always seamless, amalgamation of Kubrick's chilly bleakness and Spielberg's warm-hearted optimism, A.I. is, in a word, fascinating.
Synopsis: A robotic boy, the first programmed to love, David (Haley Joel Osment) is adopted as a test case by a... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 83337%
Critics Consensus: A rare film that surpasses the quality of its source novel, this Devil is a witty expose of New York's fashion scene, with Meryl Streep in top form and Anne Hathaway more than holding her own.
Synopsis: Andy (Anne Hathaway) is a recent college graduate with big dreams. Upon landing a job at prestigious Runway magazine, she... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#26

Hope Springs (2012)
75%

#26
Adjusted Score: 82191%
Critics Consensus: Led by a pair of mesmerizing performances from Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, Hope Springs offers filmgoers some grown-up laughs -- and a thoughtful look at mature relationships.
Synopsis: Long-married couple Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) love each other, but after so many years together, Kay... [More]
Directed By: David Frankel

#25

Sophie's Choice (1982)
78%

#25
Adjusted Score: 81160%
Critics Consensus: Sophie's Choice may be more sobering than stirring, but Meryl Streep's Oscar-winning performance holds this postwar period drama together.
Synopsis: Stingo (Peter MacNicol), a young writer, moves to Brooklyn in 1947 to begin work on his first novel. As he... [More]
Directed By: Alan J. Pakula

#24

Julie & Julia (2009)
77%

#24
Adjusted Score: 86331%
Critics Consensus: Boosted by Meryl Streep's charismatic performance as Julia Child, Julie and Julia is a light, but fairly entertaining culinary comedy.
Synopsis: Frustrated with a soul-killing job, New Yorker Julie Powell (Amy Adams) embarks on a daring project: she vows to prepare... [More]
Directed By: Nora Ephron

#23
Adjusted Score: 83677%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this story-within-a-story, Anna (Meryl Streep) is an actress starring opposite Mike (Jeremy Irons) in a period piece about the... [More]
Directed By: Karel Reisz

#22
Adjusted Score: 94861%
Critics Consensus: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again doubles down on just about everything fans loved about the original -- and my my, how can fans resist it?
Synopsis: In 1979 young Donna, Tanya and Rosie graduate from Oxford University -- leaving Donna free to embark on a series... [More]
Directed By: Ol Parker

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 102222%
Critics Consensus: Mary Poppins Returns relies on the magic of its classic forebear to cast a familiar -- but still solidly effective -- family-friendly spell.
Synopsis: Now an adult with three children, bank teller Michael Banks learns that his house will be repossessed in five days... [More]
Directed By: Rob Marshall

#20

The Hours (2002)
79%

#20
Adjusted Score: 85388%
Critics Consensus: The movie may be a downer, but it packs an emotional wallop. Some fine acting on display here.
Synopsis: "The Hours" is the story of three women searching for more potent, meaningful lives. Each is alive at a different... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Daldry

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 86723%
Critics Consensus: While not the classic its predecessor is, this update is well-acted and conjures a chilling resonance.
Synopsis: Years after his squad was ambushed during the Gulf War, Major Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) finds himself having terrible nightmares.... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#18

Doubt (2008)
79%

#18
Adjusted Score: 87864%
Critics Consensus: Doubt succeeds on the strength of its top-notch cast, who successfully guide the film through the occasional narrative lull.
Synopsis: In 1964 the winds of change are sweeping through Sister Aloysius' (Meryl Streep) St. Nicholas school. Father Flynn (Philip Seymour... [More]
Directed By: John Patrick Shanley

#17

The Homesman (2014)
80%

#17
Adjusted Score: 85984%
Critics Consensus: A squarely traditional yet somewhat progressive Western, The Homesman adds another absorbing entry to Tommy Lee Jones' directorial résumé.
Synopsis: A frontier farm woman (Hilary Swank) saves the life of a claim-jumper (Tommy Lee Jones) and persuades him to help... [More]
Directed By: Tommy Lee Jones

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 89527%
Critics Consensus: The final film by the great Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion, the big screen adaptation of Garrison Keillor's radio broadcast showcases plenty of the director's strengths: it's got a gigantic cast and plenty of quirky acting and dialogue.
Synopsis: A private investigator (Kevin Kline) keeps tabs on the proceedings as guests, cast and crew (Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, Woody... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 85784%
Critics Consensus: Uniting a pair of powerhouse talents with a smart, sharply written script, Postcards from the Edge makes compelling drama out of reality-inspired trauma.
Synopsis: Hollywood actress Suzanne Vale is on a slippery slope as a recovering addict. On exit from rehab, it is recommended... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#14

Marvin's Room (1996)
84%

#14
Adjusted Score: 86580%
Critics Consensus: Marvin's Room rises above the pack of dysfunctional family dramas thanks to an impeccable cast that includes Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Synopsis: Bessie (Diane Keaton) and Lee (Meryl Streep) are sisters who have remained apart for nearly 20 years due to radically... [More]
Directed By: Jerry Zaks

#13
Adjusted Score: 80619%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A liberal United States senator, Joe Tynan (Alan Alda) is in over his head with both his work and his... [More]
Directed By: Jerry Schatzberg

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 101495%
Critics Consensus: Florence Foster Jenkins makes poignant, crowd-pleasing dramedy out of its stranger-than-fiction tale -- and does its subject justice with a reliably terrific turn from star Meryl Streep.
Synopsis: In the 1940s, New York socialite Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) dreams of becoming a great opera singer. Unfortunately, her... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Frears

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 90395%
Critics Consensus: The divorce subject isn't as shocking, but the film is still a thoughtful, well-acted drama that resists the urge to take sides or give easy answers.
Synopsis: On the same day Manhattan advertising executive Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) lands the biggest account of his career, he learns... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#10

The Post (2017)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 113278%
Critics Consensus: The Post's period setting belies its bitingly timely themes, brought compellingly to life by director Steven Spielberg and an outstanding ensemble cast.
Synopsis: Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper -- The Washington Post. With help from editor... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#9

One True Thing (1998)
89%

#9
Adjusted Score: 90945%
Critics Consensus: Solid performances lift this drama to a higher level.
Synopsis: Kate (Meryl Streep), the undervalued matriarch of the Gulden family, is diagnosed with cancer. Daughter and journalist Ellen (Renée Zellweger)... [More]
Directed By: Carl Franklin

#8
Adjusted Score: 92583%
Critics Consensus: Sentimental, slow, schmaltzy, and very satisfying, The Bridges of Madison County finds Clint Eastwood adapting a bestseller with heft, wit, and grace.
Synopsis: A moving love story about a photographer on assignment to shoot the historic bridges of Madison County. He meets a... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#7

Adaptation (2002)
91%

#7
Adjusted Score: 96994%
Critics Consensus: Dizzyingly original, the loopy, multi-layered Adaptation is both funny and thought-provoking.
Synopsis: Nicolas Cage is Charlie Kaufman, a confused L.A. screenwriter overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, sexual frustration, self-loathing, and by the... [More]
Directed By: Spike Jonze

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 102151%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal -- and it shows Wes Anderson has a knack for animation.
Synopsis: After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#5

The Deer Hunter (1978)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 99252%
Critics Consensus: Its greatness is blunted by its length and one-sided point of view, but the film's weaknesses are overpowered by Michael Cimino's sympathetic direction and a series of heartbreaking performances from Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken.
Synopsis: In 1968, Michael (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage), lifelong friends from a working-class Pennsylvania steel... [More]
Directed By: Michael Cimino

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 93506%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: While on vacation in the Australian outback, Seventh Day Adventist priest Michael Chamberlain (Sam Neill) and his wife, Lindy (Meryl... [More]
Directed By: Fred Schepisi

#3

Manhattan (1979)
94%

#3
Adjusted Score: 100024%
Critics Consensus: One of Woody Allen's early classics, Manhattan combines modern, bittersweet humor and timeless romanticism with unerring grace.
Synopsis: Director Woody Allen's love letter to New York City stars Allen as frustrated television writer Isaac Davis, a twice-divorced malcontent... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#2

Little Women (2019)
95%

#2
Adjusted Score: 120904%
Critics Consensus: With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig's Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.
Synopsis: In the years after the Civil War, Jo March lives in New York and makes her living as a writer,... [More]
Directed By: Greta Gerwig

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 99224%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) isn't having a good week. For starters, he died after he got hit by a bus.... [More]
Directed By: Albert Brooks

(Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Cynthia Erivo is poised to make history this awards season. The 32-year-old British actress, whom many will remember from Bad Times at the El Royale or her supporting role alongside Viola Davis in Widows, is currently in theaters playing arguably the most famous Black woman in American History, Harriet Tubman, and she is getting a ton of Oscar buzz. Harriet is Erivo’s first starring role, but theater fans will instantly recall her as Ms. Celie from the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. For her work on the Broadway hit, she won a Tony, an Emmy, and a Grammy – and if you’re counting letters, she is only one O(scar) away from the prestigious and elusive EGOT. Luckily for Erivo, many awards pundits are betting on her, putting her on track to become the youngest EGOT winner ever. We recently sat down with Erivo to discuss the film, her friendship with co-stars Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe, and why Meryl Streep’s pursed lips are a big part of one her Five Favorite Films.


The Devil Wears Prada (2006) 75%

First is The Devil Wears Prada, which I watched a million times over. I’m a fashion fanatic, and I love how it’s like a character in the film. I think it’s one of Meryl Streep‘s most amazing performances. I don’t know, there’s just something about it, the subtleties like the little purse of her lips that she does. I think it’s just really cool, and it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure. And the soundtrack on it is fabulous. I loved watching the way in which they used fashion through it, the dedication to keeping it very fashion-forward. I loved it. I thought it was brilliant.

Polly (1989)

The original was called Pollyanna, and then they did a remake of the film, called Polly, and it had Phylicia Rashad in it. It was probably one of the first musical films I had ever seen that was fully… Pretty much almost fully cast of Black men and women and children. And I think it was one of the reasons I was like, “Oh, I can do musicals. I can be in them. This is cool.” And I love the music. I still remember the songs, and it’s been a while since I’ve watched it. I have the VHS of it. I don’t even know if they do it on DVD. I don’t know if you can even get it on iTunes. But I loved it.

A Star Is Born (1954) 98%

The 1954 version of A Star Is Born. Judy Garland in that role is unbelievable. She is heartbreaking, and that scene where she sings “The Man Who Got Away”… Just so gorgeous. It’s at that time in her life where really the role could’ve been reversed between her and her partner. It glazes heartbreak over the whole entire thing. It’s just beautiful, and she’s beautiful in it.

The Color Purple (1985) 81%

Next is The Color Purple, for obvious reasons. The first way I came to it was the film, a bit before I read the book. And it has some of my favorite people in it. And I think I’ve met them now, strangely enough, most of those people from the film.

I mean, Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, of course.

Yes, I’ve met Whoopi. I’ve met Oprah. I have also met Akosua Busia – she’s Nettie. I met Whoopi; she was at the premiere. She’s so kind and cool. And I have also had the pleasure of meeting Oprah. Then I met Akosua. But that film was the beginning, I guess. And in watching it, it changed my life. I watched that movie and was inspired. I read the book, and then the musical came along, and I got the musical, and here I am. So, that film is always going to be one of my favorites.

Black Panther (2018) 96%

Lastly, I am gonna have to say Black Panther. My favorite scene of Black Panther – it’s not really even a scene, but it’s towards the end when they’re at the United Nations, and just the image of Danai Gurira in that beautiful, black dress, that’s got that crazy neckline, and she just looks regal. And then, obviously, there’s the scene in the big battle, where a rhinoceros that comes towards Danai, and it stops right in its tracks, inches from her face. There’s just something. Oh, it’s so powerful, it’s so good, so good. And such a delectable moment. I can’t even tell you how much I loved that film.


Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: Talk about taking on such an iconic person from American History. A lot is known about her, but a lot isn’t. 

Cynthia Erivo: Preparing for her all of us, myself and Kasi [Lemmons, the director], we both needed to do character research. Kasi did about seven months’ worth of reading, and I was doing the research as well. Kasi and I spent a lot of time together, deciding what it was that we wanted to bring to her. I made sure I was physically ready for her, because I knew it was going to be a completely physical role. And I made sure that I made my mind ready so that I could be emotionally available for the things that needed to be done with her story. I knew the work that she did. I knew that she was married to John. I knew that she ran a hundred miles to freedom. I knew that she came back and brought other enslaved people to freedom. But being able to work on this, read the script, and learn about her was really fun because it filled in the blanks.

You mentioned the physical preparation. Talk to us about that. You did a ton of running.

[Laughs] I did. But for me, I think it’s all the same, because I was taught that you always get ready for the performance; you don’t let the performance get you ready. Whenever I’m about to get into a role, I try to prepare physically for it. Some require more work than others. Harriet needed a lot of physical work beforehand, so I really had to put myself through training. It was a lot of cardio and running and biking and horse riding. I needed to be able to lift myself up, climb on things, climb over things, and run. And I did all my stunts, pretty much. Maybe two stunts I didn’t do. The rest was me. I wanted to make sure I was ready for all of that. I didn’t want to have to concentrate on whether or not I was ready to do something because I hadn’t trained. So I trained to make sure that I could get on set and be ready. And then everything that came up that was new was the only thing I needed to handle.

Let’s talk about this incredible cast — Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe, and Joe Alwyn. It’s such a dream cast. Tell us about working with them.

Beforehand, Janelle and I knew each other. I begged for Janelle to be a part of it. I asked her if she would do it, then I asked Kasi, and I asked Debra [Martin Chase, the producer]. I was like, “Please, can we have Janelle be in this, please, because I think she’d be perfect for it?” She’s this beautiful soul. It just felt right. It felt like she was right for that, and she was. She was a wonderful, wonderful addition to the cast, just because she’s such a caring, gentle personality, but there’s a real fight in her, which I absolutely adore. For Leslie, he and I have known each other for a really long time. We both won our Tonys the same year. His daughter is my goddaughter. So we already had a rapport with each other. And it always just feels great when he’s on set with me, because I feel safe. And I just met Jennifer [Nettles] and Joe, who are lovely, lovely people, and they were there for the right reasons. I was really lucky to have an incredible group of people to do this with, because it could’ve been far more difficult. But because Kasi and Debra are wonderful people, they also pick wonderful people to be around.


Harriet is in theaters now.


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She’s only been making movies for a little over a decade, but Emily Blunt has already managed to put together an impressive string of critical and commercial hits — and she looks to add to that list with this weekend’s A Quiet Place. In honor of its arrival, we decided to take a fond look back at some of the brighter highlights from Ms. Blunt’s fast-growing filmography. It’s time for Total Recall!


Use the arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them ranked by Tomatometer!

She’s only been making movies for a little over a decade, but Emily Blunt has already managed to put together an impressive string of critical and commercial hits — and she looks to add to that list with this weekend’s The Girl on the Train. In honor of its arrival, we decided to take a fond look back at some of the brighter highlights from Ms. Blunt’s fast-growing filmography. It’s time for Total Recall!


10. Sunshine Cleaning (2008) 74%

sunshine-cleaning

If you’re going to film a quirky indie comedy about a cheerleader-turned-hardworking single mom who decides to clean crime scenes for a living so she can send her son to private school, you could hardly find a better person for the role than Amy Adams — and it would be just as hard to improve upon Emily Blunt as her not-so-sunny sister. While critics carped that the Christine Jeffs-directed Sunshine Cleaning was ultimately a little too burdened with quirky indie clichés to achieve its full potential, they had nothing but kind words to say about its stars. The Toronto Star’s Peter Howell  reflected the opinions of many of his peers when he wrote, “Adams and Blunt rise above the clunky premise and execution to once again demonstrate why they’ve become the go-to girls for any director seeking smart, versatile and warm-blooded talent.”


9. The Adjustment Bureau (2011) 71%

adjustment-bureau

Star-crossed lovers are nothing new at the cinema, but The Adjustment Bureau — adapted from the 1954 Philip K. Dick short story “Adjustment Team” — adds a novel sci-fi twist by literally pitting its lovers against the agents of fate. Budding politician David Norris (Matt Damon) meets a mysterious woman (Blunt) on the eve of his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate, and becomes determined to find her after they share a kiss — a desire that only intensifies after he meets members of the “Adjustment Bureau” who inform him that he has to stay away from her in order to fulfill “the Plan.” It’s the type of loopy premise that can easily spin off into melodramatic gobbledygook, but according to most critics, Bureau stayed pleasantly grounded thanks to the palpable spark between its leads. As Peter Rainer wrote for the Christian Science Monitor, “Because the chemistry between Damon and Blunt is so strong, what might have been a jumble of Matrix-style oddments comes across instead as ardent.”


8. The Young Victoria (2009) 76%

young-victoria

Blunt received a raft of award nominations — including one from the Golden Globes — for her work in the title role of this Jean-Marc Vallée period drama, which dramatizes the power struggle leading up to Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne as well as the contentious political atmosphere that surrounded her afterwards. Of course, political intrigue will only get you so far with a movie about a queen — you also need a good old-fashioned romance, and Victoria’s tale offered up a doozy in her courtship with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Rupert Friend), who sparked a real romance with the young monarch after being sent to the royal court as part of a would-be seduction ploy by his uncle, the King of Belgium. It all added up to just the sort of beautifully mounted period piece that tends to hit a reliable home run with critics and arthouse audiences, and The Young Victoria did pretty well on both fronts, with Blunt earning copious praise for her performance. “Blunt, her eyes sparking, her manner playful, smart, and proud, shines in the title role,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Steven Rea. “If the film itself isn’t brilliant, its star most definitely is.”


7. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) 75%

devil-wears-prada

Two years after making arthouse audiences swoon with My Summer of Love, Blunt made her second trip to the big screen — and scored her first blockbuster success. Of course, The Devil Wears Prada‘s $300 million-plus gross had a lot more to do with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway’s names on the marquee, but Blunt’s supporting appearance proved she could hold her own with those talented ladies (and displayed a gift for comedy she hadn’t necessarily had a chance to display with her first film). Starring Streep as fashion magazine editor and all-around hellish boss Miranda Priestly, Hathaway as Priestly’s fresh-out-of-college new assistant, and Blunt as Hathaway’s far more experienced co-worker, Prada poked fun at the fashion industry while unabashedly embracing its glamour — and the gambit worked with critics as well as audiences. “The Devil Wears Prada is a movie that revels in pleasure,” wrote Slate’s Dana Stevens. “The pleasure of fashion, of luxury, of power and ambition. It’s also a tremendous pleasure to watch.”


6. Charlie Wilson's War (2007) 82%

charlie-wilsons-war

Sign up for a movie whose cast includes Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Ned Beatty, and you probably aren’t going to come anywhere near top billing. But even if her supporting turn in Charlie Wilson’s War isn’t one of Blunt’s biggest roles, it rates a mention for a few reasons — it put her in some magnificent closing-credits company, for one thing, and for another, whatever her screentime lacked in quantity, it made up in memorability. Most of all, this Mike Nichols-directed period dramedy about a real-life U.S. Congressman (Hanks) who works with the CIA to try and tilt the balance of the Afghan-Soviet War is pretty all-around entertaining; as Rene Rodriguez wrote for the Miami Herald, “It is so much fun watching these actors enjoy bouncing off each other, it’s almost too easy to forget the importance of the story being told.”


5. Your Sister's Sister (2011) 83%

your-sisters-sister

Ah, the love triangle — always good for a bit of drama. That’s exactly what you get out of Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister, an absorbingly low-key drama starring Mark Duplass as a guy who borrows a cabin from his deceased brother’s ex-girlfriend (Blunt), only to show up and find her sister (Rosemarie DeWitt). Questions of grief, unspoken feelings, and sexual identity soon follow — as well as a generous helping of the well-rounded characters and naturalistic dialogue fans of the filmmaker have come to expect. “Even when the storyline tries to wrench the characters in a certain direction, they keep returning to something real and honest,” wrote Deadspin’s Will Leitch. “I want these people to be my friends.”


4. My Summer of Love (2004) 90%

my-summer-of-love

After acclaimed early performances on the stage and on television, Blunt continued her winning streak with her big-screen debut, 2004’s My Summer of Love, in which she played an upper-class British teen who embarks on a seemingly star-crossed relationship with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Although it wasn’t a huge commercial hit, Love was consistently acclaimed — Blunt and co-star Natalie Press shared an  Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer — and it led directly into more high-profile roles, something predicted by more than a few critics. “Remember these names,” wrote Moira MacDonald for the Seattle Times. “Remember this strange, lovely movie.”


3. Edge of Tomorrow (2014) 91%

edge-of-tomorrow

By the time Edge of Tomorrow arrived in theaters, we’d all seen Tom Cruise play action hero countless times — and he’d even helped save the world from an alien invasion, as his character was called upon to do in this Doug Liman-directed sci-fi flick. But Tomorrow came with a couple of fairly nifty twists: one in the form of a timeloop plot device that sent Cruise plummeting back into the same chaotic day on the battlefield until he could manage to get it right, and the second with a story that made Cruise an unwilling and borderline incompetent hero who needed to be trained to fight by the movie’s true badass, played by Blunt. The end result, as critics were fond of pointing out, was a little like Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day, and all kinds of blockbuster fun. As Kenneth Turan put it for the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a star-driven mass-market entertainment that’s smart, exciting and unexpected while not stinting on genre satisfactions.”


2. Looper (2012) 93%

looper

On a superficial (and wholly enjoyable) level, Rian Johnson’s 2012 sci-fi hit Looper is about one man’s life-or-death struggle against his future self. But underneath all the twisty time travel narrative and cool set pieces, it’s really a surprisingly tender drama about a mother’s love — and one grounded by the flinty yet vulnerable performance delivered by Blunt, who plays a homesteading single mom determined to protect her young son at all costs (and maybe unwittingly change the world for the better in the bargain). “That first hour cooks,” marveled the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips. “And the second hour brings Emily Blunt into the story, which is a fine thing for any second half to offer.”


1. Sicario (2015) 92%

sicario

Some pretty powerful films have been made about the international drug trade, and at this point, if you’re going to throw your cinematic hat in the ring, you’d better be prepared to add a singular statement to the genre. Director Denis Villeneuve managed to pull it off with 2015’s Sicario, starring Blunt as an FBI agent who teams up with a pair of CIA operatives (Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro) to bring down a Mexican cartel. In terms of plot outline, it’s boilerplate stuff — but in Villeneuve and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan’s hands, and through the stellar efforts of the well-chosen cast, the end results are elevated considerably. “Far from being just another crime story,” wrote the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Calvin Wilson, “Sicario is cinema at its most ambitious.”

In The Boss, a titan of industry is sent to jail for insider trading and, upon release, discovers not all her peers are keen on welcoming her back. The Melissa McCarthy comedy inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery, the best and worst bosses from movie history.

It’s gone from best-selling book to hit television series — and now, W. Bruce Cameron’s 8 Simple Rules is getting the feature film treatment.

The Hollywood Reporter shares the latest developments for Cameron’s brainchild, announcing that 26 Films and The Devil Wears Prada producer Wendy Finerman are bringing 8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter (the upcoming sequel to his 2001 book, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter) to the screen. From the article:

[Producer Michelle] Chydzik Sowa said the plot will revolve around a divorced dad juggling a younger girlfriend and two daughters who both get engaged at the same time. Other details haven’t been revealed, but the book’s subtitle — “And Other Reasonable Advice From the Father of the Bride (Not that Anyone Is Paying Attention)” — provides a clue. It will be published by Simon & Schuster imprint Fireside on April 8.

Cameron, who remains an award-winning nationally syndicated humor columnist, previously wrote 2006’s Cook-Off! with Cathryn Michon; the duo will reunite to adapt the 8 Simple Rules film.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Action stars Jet Li and Jason Statham face off this weekend in the new crime thriller War which leads a flood of new releases pouring into North American multiplexes trying to catch the final dollars of the summer movie season. The R-rated Lionsgate release finds the two playing an assassin and a federal agent, respectively, and will aim for young male audiences. Both actors have solid followings and the combination allows War to offer a two-for-one deal that will make the ticket price well worth it for many fans.

Li’s last films Fearless and Unleashed each bowed to just under $11M with averages of a little less than $6,000. Statham’s Crank opened over Labor Day weekend last year with $10.5M and an average of $4,158 over three days while during the same holiday frame in 2005 his action sequel Transporter 2 debuted to $16.5M with a $5,008 average over three days. Lionsgate has had a strong marketing push on War and should connect with male action fans. Last weekend’s top three films Superbad, Rush Hour 3, and The Bourne Ultimatum will all provide some direct competition, but a solid bow is likely. Opening in 2,271 theaters, War could premiere with about $14M this weekend.


Statham and Li compare wireless signals in War.

Scarlett Johansson plays the nanny to the family from hell in The Nanny Diaries, the big-screen adaptation of the popular novel. The PG-13 film co-stars Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti and will have some trouble appealing to moviegoers outside of its core white female demo. Critics have not been too supportive which will only hurt the film’s chances at the turnstiles. Nanny will be lucky to gross in its entire domestic run what last summer’s The Devil Wears Prada collected in just its opening weekend. As the lead, Johansson does not provide too much starpower so many will wait to catch this on DVD later. Debuting in about 1,800 theaters, MGM’s The Nanny Diaries could open to around $7M this weekend.


Johansson scaring young children in The Nanny Diaries.

One of the year’s biggest blockbusters overseas finally makes it to U.S. shores. Universal’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday targets families in the final days before students go back to the land of homework. The G-rated entry finds the popular British character winning a trip to France and of course, stumbling into all kinds of odd situations along the way. Having already grossed $189M internationally, Holiday doesn’t really need much success in North America to be a moneymaker, but it would like some more gravy on top. Competition is light, however the marketing push has not been too powerful so a modest debut could result. Falling into 1,580 venues, Mr. Bean’s Holiday might open with about $6M.


Bean up to his usual tricks in Holiday.

A struggling journalist tries to make a major news item out of the story of a homeless man who used to be a boxer in the new drama Resurrecting the Champ. Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett star in the PG-13 flick which lacks major buzz as it steps into the box office ring. Starpower is also weak in this one and paying audiences will be hard to find. Yari Film Group is releasing Champ in 1,602 theaters and could find itself with about $3M this weekend.


Resurrecting the Champ

Jon Voight stars in the Mormon massacre pic September Dawn which Slowhand Releasing will quietly unleash into about 850 theaters. Neither Voight nor Mormons are part of successful box office formulas and the marketing push has been minimal in this case so no big dollar amounts are expected. A three-day take of about $1.5M could be in the works.


Jon Voight in September Dawn.

Coming off of a spectacular opening weekend, Sony’s Superbad hopes to make it two in a row on top. The R-rated film’s only main competitor for young men will come from War as the frame’s other new releases either target different audience segments or will barely be a blip on the radar. A 45% drop to about $18M would give Superbad a ten-day tally of $70M.

Rush Hour 3 will race past the $100M mark this weekend and could slide by 50% to around $10.5M. That would give New Line $107M after 17 days. Fellow threequel The Bourne Ultimatum should have a better hold and drop by 40% to roughly $12M putting the Universal smash at $185M overall with its eye on the double-century mark by Labor Day.

LAST YEAR: Buena Vista topped the charts with its football saga Invincible which bowed at number one with $17M on its way to a solid $57.8M. Will Ferrell‘s comedy Talladega Nights placed second with $8.1M while Little Miss Sunshine expanded and jumped up to third place with $7.4M. Warner Bros. opened its comedy Beerfest in fourth with $7M leading to a $19.2M final. World Trade Center rounded out the top five with $6.5M in its third frame. Two smaller films debuting far below were Universal’s Idlewild with $5.7M and New Line’s How to Eat Fried Worms with $4M. Final tallies reached $12.6M and $13M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The Hogwarts posse is back with the highly anticipated launch of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", the fifth film in the blockbuster wizard series which has already grossed $3.53 billion worldwide.

The PG-13 film reunites the major cast members and features British television director David Yates at the helm this time. Unlike previous installments, this new one began with a record $44.2M Wednesday launch instead of the usual Friday bow. This spreads the opening weekend audience out over five days and reduces the amount of comparisons the industry will make to "Spider-Man 3" which set a new all-time debut record in May with its gargantuan $151.1M three-day launch.

Opening weekend grosses for the most part have gotten bigger through the "Potter" series. "Sorcerer’s Stone" bowed to a then-record $90.3M and was followed by "Chamber of Secrets" with $88.4M, "Prisoner of Azkaban" with $93.7M, and "Goblet of Fire" with $102.3M. "Prisoner" was the only summer release (early June when most kids were still in school) and remains the lowest grossing of the franchise with $249.4M. This time, Warner Bros. has positioned "Potter" in the middle of July when all students are out of school and can go to the movies seven days a week. The move was smart since these films usualy don’t have good legs and absorb the bulk of their business upfront.

By Friday, "Phoenix" will be playing in an eye-popping 4,285 theaters making it the second widest opening in history after the 4,362 of May’s "At World’s End" which grossed $139.8M in its first four days. The new "Potter," however, is more likely to play out like "Spider-Man 2" which launched on a Wednesday in late June/early July of 2004. It captured a stunning $152.4M in its Wednesday-to-Sunday frame with the Fourth of July holiday falling on day 5. "Phoenix" does not have a holiday to utilize, but it does stand as a another megahyped sequel from one of the most popular franchises of this decade.

The studio’s marketing has been strong as usual for their favorite son. A record 91 Imax locations are playing the soon-to-be-blockbuster which will help add more potency to the numbers. Plus, excitement is extra high this time because of the anticipation surrounding the seventh and final book which by some strange coincidence will be released at the end of next week. Film 5 and book 7 will join forces and help market each other and push the media to do even more stories than usual on the property.

Competition for the long-titled film will come from pics with short names like "Transformers" and "Ratatouille," but that should not be too much of a factor since "Potter" has a clearly-defined audience. Despite some negative reviews from key critics, overall the film has earned good marks. Again this should not matter much since die-hard fans would never miss being part of the opening weekend anyway. What will matter is word-of-mouth. With the Wednesday bow, the studio will need fans to love the picture in order to spread positive buzz to more casual fans and to come back again for repeat viewing. The film’s B+ average grade from over 9,000 votes on Yahoo Movies is a decent but not spectacular start in that department.

Warner Bros is not out to break records this weekend. It’s all about collecting cash over as many summer nights as possible. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" might be able to open to about $90M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and around $155M over the five-day debut frame.


The magic trio is back

Elisha Cuthbert enters the horror scene in the new gorefest "Captivity," a new fright flick quietly being tossed into the marketplace. Released by After Dark Films, the R-rated entry chronicles the capture and torture of a successful model and is aimed at genre fans who like the most extreme form of horror. The marketing push has not been very strong and aside from "1408," most fright films in recent months have all flopped. This should be no different. With Optimus Prime, Mr. Potter, and John McClane all offering brand name summer action, "Captivity" should find it difficult to get noticed. Opening in about 1,500 locations on Friday the 13th, a $4M debut seems likely.


No one told her she’d be opening opposite "Harry Potter."

Last weekend, "Transformers" rocked the box office with its extended opening week haul of $155.4M. A severe drop is in store this weekend thanks to the wizard sequel. Had both "Transformers" and "Potter" opened on a Friday, a weekend drop of 60% or more would result. But since frames are diluted down from their full potential, a 50% decline may instead occur. That would give Paramount about $35M for the frame and a cume of $222M after 13.5 days.

Disney’s "Ratatouille" is holding up well but will lose some of its kid audience to the Hogwarts flick. Since the "Potter" pics are getting darker, parents of younger children will probably avoid it and opt for the G-rated rodent cartoon instead. A 35% drop to around $19M would give the toon a plump $143M after 17 days.

LAST YEAR: Despite dropping 54%, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" topped the box office with a colossal $62.3M in its second weekend. In a close race for the silver medal, Sony’s comedy "Little Man" edged out a second place debut with $21.6M followed closely by Universal’s rival comedy "You, Me and Dupree" which bowed to $21.5M. The Wayans brothers found their way to $58.3M while the Owen Wilson pic enjoyed better legs with a $75.6M final. Rounding out the top five were "Superman Returns" with $12.3M and "The Devil Wears Prada" with $10.4M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Megatron and his sinister robot chums invade the North American box office aiming to extract riches from the multiplexes over the extended Fourth of July holiday week with the tentpole action vehicle "Transformers."

Also entering the marketplace, but likely to gross only a fraction of the cash, is the comedy "License to Wed" starring Robin Williams. With Independence Day falling on a Wednesday, moviegoers have all different kinds of schedules with some having only one day off from work while others are taking extra time for themselves. That will make for a tricky box office trajectory since ticket buyers have many films to choose from and many days to make their trip to cinemas.

Paramount sets off the fireworks with "Transformers" which already got an early start to the holiday week with a strong $8.8M in ticket sales on Monday night with shows beginning at 8pm. The PG-13 film from director Michael Bay is adapted from the popular toys and cartoon series that became a cult favorite in the 1980s, but instead has been geared up to fit modern summer movie standards with action, humor, and plenty of special effects. Shia LaBeouf stars alongside Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson, and John Turturro.

[Editor’s Note: "Transformers" broke records for having the biggest opening on a Tuesday at $27.9 million, according to Boxofficemojo.com. As of Wednesday night (the original "official" release date), "Transformers" had raked in $36.7 million at the box office — a figure that grants the flick the title of Best 4th of July opening ever. That number (what many have pointed out amounts to over $36 million in 36 hours of release, or $1 million per hour and $16,666 per minute) results from the Paramount release’s $8.8 million Monday night take combined with $27.9 million on Tuesday. An additional $29.1 million from Wednesday’s moviegoers bumps the current "Transformers" box office to $65.7 million — and there are four more days to go.]

"Transformers" is trying hard to follow in the footsteps of "Independence Day" which eleven years ago this week wreaked havoc on the box office with a Fourth of July opening week gross of $96.1M over five and a half days beginning with Tuesday night shows starting earlier at 6pm. That would amount to about $125M at today’s ticket prices from 1,129 fewer theaters than what the robots in disguise now control. Both films are essentially disaster pictures about alien forces that invade Earth that are driven by amazing special effects and feature ensemble casts with no huge stars.

The fanboy crowd has been energized for months for "Transformers" so that vote is locked in. To really see the grosses soar, Paramount and DreamWorks will need non-fans to pony up the dough and take interest not because they remember watching the cartoon as a kid, but because it looks and feels like good escapist summer fare. Luckily the pic delivers on that. Appeal to teens and young adults is potent but older adults looking for action may be tempted to buy a ticket for Bruce Willis in the latest "Die Hard" sequel. In addition, younger children afraid of mean transforming robots will instead line up for "Ratatouille." But so far reviews have been pretty good for its genre and fans are giving high marks too as witnessed by the encouraging A- average grade from over 6,000 votes on Yahoo Movies.

Other effects-driven sci-fi action tentpoles opening over this extended holiday week include 2002’s "Men in Black II" with $87.2M over five days, 2003’s R-rated "Terminator 3" with $72.4M over five and a half days, and $100.5M over five days for "War of the Worlds" in 2005. Optimus Prime should soar higher since it has a full six and a half days of play this week by the time Sunday night arrives. Invading 4,011 theaters, "Transformers" might gross about $67M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a stellar $130M from Monday night through Sunday.


"Transformers"

Taking one of his worst beatings from critics in years, Oscar winner Robin Williams hit multiplexes on Tuesday with his latest comedy "License to Wed" playing a wacky priest who puts a newly engaged couple through a series of tests before marrying them. The PG-13 film stars Mandy Moore and "The Office"’s John Krasinski as the lucky twosome. The Warner Bros. title is slotted into this extra long holiday week as counter-programming to the Decepticons and hopes to appeal to women and adult couples not interested in the summer’s umpteenth action extravaganza.

Aside from the former Mork, "License" has no real starpower at the box office. Even Williams has struggled to pack them in on opening weekend in recent years. His last film "Man of the Year" bowed to $12.3M last fall. Word-of-mouth is not likely to be very positive and if anything, the early opening may spread bad buzz as by Friday many will hear from friends that they should avoid this pic. The midweek debut will also dilute the weekend numbers too. A stronger title could have excelled this week with the target audience given all the testosterone flicks, but this one just doesn’t have the goods. Opening in 2,401 theaters, "License to Wed" might collect about $11M over the weekend and $18M during the extended Tuesday-to-Sunday debut period.


"License to Wed"

Disney and Pixar enjoyed a brief three-day stint in the number one spot last weekend with "Ratatouille" before being pushed aside by the Autobots on Monday. Second weekend drops for Pixar’s summer toons include 44% for last year’s "Cars" and a slimmer 34% for 2003’s "Finding Nemo." The rodent flick is well-liked by moviegoers and competition for younger children is not too direct this coming weekend so a decline in between those two may result. A 35% drop would give "Ratatouille" about $30M for the weekend and a ten-day cume of $109M.


"Ratatouille"

Bruce Willis will have his hands full with "Live Free or Die Hard" on the second weekend thanks to fierce direct competition from "Transformers." A 50% drop would not be surprising and would give Fox around $16.5M for the session boosting the 12-day tally to $83M. Universal’s "Evan Almighty" should continue its rapid slide and dip by 45% to roughly $8M. That would put the Steve Carell comedy at $78M after 17 days.

LAST YEAR: After a long four-year term as the top opening of all-time, "Spider-Man" had its record stolen by Captain Jack as "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" crushed the industry mark with an eye-popping three-day bow of $135.6M. The Disney smash easily became the biggest blockbuster of the year with $423.3M domestically and a towering $1.065 billion worldwide and it still stands as the third largest global grosser of all-time. "Superman Returns" tumbled down to second place falling by a disturbing 59% to $21.8M for Warner Bros. Fox’s "The Devil Wears Prada" enjoyed a better sophomore hold dropping 46% to $15M for third place. Rounding out the top five were Adam Sandler‘s "Click" with $11.9M for Sony and Disney/Pixar’s "Cars" with $10.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Source: Boxofficemojo.com

Disney and Pixar aim for their eighth straight number one hit together with the latest computer animated film from the industry experts, "Ratatouille."

For those looking for a higher body count in their weekend entertainment, Fox offers the actioner "Live Free or Die Hard" which stands as the ninth sequel in nine weeks this summer. In more limited national release, Lionsgate expands its Michael Moore documentary "Sicko" while Focus opens its anti-"Die Hard" pic "Evening." This weekend’s box office champ will only have a short-lived stay at number one since "Transformers" will begin its assault on the multiplexes on Monday night attacking at 8pm.

Scurrying into its usual position atop the charts, Pixar returns to capture the family audience with "Ratatouille" hoping for what could be a long run at the summer box office. The G-rated pic tells of a lovable rat with a gift for cooking that finds itself working secretly in a famous Paris restaurant with a clumsy human boy. Brad Bird ("The Incredibles," "The Iron Giant") directs and the voice cast includes Patton Oswalt, Peter O’Toole, Brian Dennehy, and Janeane Garofalo. Not the biggest names in the biz, but this one will not be sold on the starpower of actors. It is the Pixar brand name, and to an extent the Disney logo, that will bring in paying customers. Parents and children know they are guaranteed a great time so the brand will sell itself. Reviews have also been glowing across the board which will help too.

Last summer, the Disney/Pixar team saw its "Cars" drive off with $60.1M on opening weekend on its way to a $244.1M final which by the end of the year made it the second biggest blockbuster of 2006 after "Dead Man’s Chest." "Night at the Museum"’s prolonged run into 2007 allowed it to eventually surpass "Cars." Pixar’s previous toons "The Incredibles" and "Finding Nemo" both bowed at the $70M mark however. "Ratatouille" will cater to the same audience, but direct competition for families will be tougher than it was with the prior pics. Though fading fast, "Evan Almighty" and the "Fantastic Four" sequel are both PG films specifically designed to appeal to kids and should steal away close to $25M combined. But the rat film should enjoy an extended stay in North American multiplexes as word-of-mouth will be very positive and moviegoers will enjoy having a new story with new characters instead of the same old sequels all the time. Launching in over 3,500 theaters, "Ratatouille" could gross about $57M this weekend.


"Ratatouille"

Bruce Willis returns to his signature franchise after a dozen-year gap with "Live Free or Die Hard," Fox’s next big entry into the summer movie sweepstakes. Keeping with the new fad of tamer ratings, the fourth installment of the series keeps the action high but cuts back on extended shots of blood and foul language in order to secure the PG-13. The previous "Die Hards" were all R-rated with the last two being number one openers. Directed by Len Wiseman, who helmed both "Underworld" pics, "Live Free" co-stars Justin Long and finds Bruce’s John McClane character assigned to protect a computer hacker who holds the key to stopping a virtual terrorist from taking control of the country electronically.

Since today’s teenagers never felt the excitement of rushing out to the theaters to see a new "Die Hard" flick, the studio has worked hard to make it relevant to the most sought after demographic so they don’t think of this as their father’s action movie. The new rating, the high-tech plot, and the Mac-friendly Long could certainly help. Plus in a summer filled with super heroes and pirates, "Die Hard" gets retro with action not driven by effects, but by stunts. The audience should skew male and older. Plus there are die hard "Die Hard" fans that have been waiting patiently for twelve years that will be out upfront to see their hero return. Reviews have been good and the film actually delivers solid entertainment without being the type of creative disappointment that audiences have unfortunately become used to this summer. Opening Wednesday in 3,172 theaters, "Live Free or Die Hard" could generate about $31M over the three-day weekend and around $48M over the five-day debut period.


"Live Free or Die Hard"

Oscar winner Michael Moore turns his wrath on the health care system in his latest documentary "Sicko." The PG-13 entry comes with the filmmaker’s usual desperate need to generate controversy in order to sell tickets. The new film does not carry with it the monstrous buzz that propelled "Fahrenheit 9/11" to a surprise number one opening three years ago. Given the subject matter, "Sicko" should skew older. Lionsgate is rolling the film out slowly instead of opening nationwide on the first weekend as it should take a little longer to get people interested in buying a ticket. The distributor is hoping that last weekend’s solo New York debut, last Saturday’s sneak previews in Moore-friendly markets, and this frame’s limited expansion to a few hundred sites will get people talking as the country heads into the Fourth of July holiday week ahead. Holiday buzz would then justify a wider rollout. Expanding to 441 theaters on Friday, "Sicko" could collect about $7M and generate a sizzling per-theater average.


"Sicko"

In the weekend’s toughest sell, acclaimed Hollywood actresses band together to define the term "chick flick" with the dying-mother drama "Evening." Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Claire Danes, and Toni Collette star in the Focus release which should see most of its business come from white adult women. The PG-13 film is trying to offer summer ticket buyers an alternative to the endless string of testosterone-fueled action sequels, but it comes up short when it comes to commercial bells and whistles. Sure there is some well-respected starpower, but comedy always sells better than drama with female-skewing pictures. And look for mothers to join their kids for "Ratatouille" which take many in the target audience out of the picture. Opening nationally in 978 theaters, "Evening" might gross about $3M this weekend.


"Evening"

Last weekend’s top earner "Evan Almighty" wasn’t exactly explosive out of the gate. This weekend will be a tough one as well since Pixar will steal away the family audience and John McClane will take away his share of summer moviegoers too. A 50% drop to about $15M would leave Universal with $60M after ten days.

"1408" scared up some strong sales last weekend in its debut. But fright flicks fall hard on the second weekend so a 55% decline would give the John Cusack thriller around $9.5M for the frame and a ten-day cume of $39M.

A similar fate could await "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" which tumbled by 66% in its sophomore session. Fox might drop down to roughly $9M boosting the 17-day total to $115M.

LAST YEAR: Warner Bros. flew into the top spot with the ultraexpensive comic flick "Superman Returns" which bowed to a not-so-muscular $52.5M over three days and $84.6M in its first five days. The Man of Steel made its way to $200.1M domestically and $390M worldwide which fell below industry expectations. Exceeding pre-release expectations was Meryl Streep‘s "The Devil Wears Prada" which bowed to $27.5M for Fox. The sleeper hit went on to gross a surprisingly strong $124.7M in North America and did exceptionally well overseas too with a global tally of $325M. Rounding out the top five were Adam Sandler‘s "Click" with $19.9M, the Disney/Pixar hit "Cars" with $14.6M, and Jack Black‘s "Nacho Libre" with $6.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Will the friendly neighborhood webslinger reclaim the holy grail of the movie biz – the opening weekend box office record?

After attacking most major markets around the world throughout this week, Sony’s global assault hits North America on Friday with "Spider-Man 3," the much-anticipated super hero sequel which ushers in a new summer movie season with a bang. And it could indeed be a record bang.

Director Sam Raimi returns with his illustrious cast including Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the new mega-budgeted tentpole film following up on a pair of Spidey films that together grossed an eye-popping $1.6 billion worldwide earlier this decade. In the new PG-13 adventure, Peter Parker tries to take his relationship with his galpal Mary Jane to the next level just as three new villains enter the scene looking for some love and affection of their own from Spider-Man. James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, and everyone’s favorite lady in the water Bryce Dallas Howard co-star. The new saga features the super foes Sandman, Venom, and the New Goblin.

With an official production cost of $258M (and some speculate that it is actually higher), Spider-Man 3 stands as the most expensive movie yet to hit theaters. But despite the enormous pricetag, and not to mention the extravagant marketing tab, the super sequel stands a chance of approaching $1 billion in global box office this summer with tons more cash coming from video, television, and merchandising. So the eye-popping budget almost seems justified.

Sony staked its claim to the first weekend of May over a year ago and competing studios took the warning by making sure they did not program anything worthy against it, or even on the weeks before and after its opening. That puts "Spider-Man 3" in the enviable position of having the entire marketplace all to itself for a full two weeks before the next summer sensation, "Shrek the Third," hits the marketplace. Spidey should easily have over $250M in the bank before the ogre pic opens giving the super hero a mammoth headstart in the annual race for the summer crown.

The lack of competition will be key this weekend in "Spider-Man 3"’s attempt to break the all-time opening weekend record set last summer by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" which exploded to $135.6M over a regular Friday-to-Sunday period. As big as that bow was, there was still a potent $60M spent on the rest of the top five films that weekend. This frame, look for the films in the two through five slots to collect only a third of that amount. The advantage the Venom flick has over the last "Pirates" is that the current marketplace is so dead that multiplexes will be handing over every possible screen. Whereas a July film might only get three or four screens at a venue, a tentpole release in early May can spread like black alien goo to a fifth, sixth, or seventh screen at the same multiplex since there’s absolutely nothing else of value to waste auditoriums on. This increases the grossing potential significantly.

Running time will not be an issue as "Spider-Man 3" actually runs about 10 minutes shorter than "Dead Man’s Chest." Thanks to the weak marketplace (last weekend was the worst frame in seven months), Sony has booked a record 4,253 locations for its bow this weekend breaking the previous high of 4,163 theaters for the launch of 2004’s "Shrek 2." The studio is not reporting its total print count, but based on other megablockbusters of its type, it can be safely estimated that over 8,000 total screens will offer up this new super hero flick. Possibly over 9,000. By comparison, the second "Pirates" hit set sail in 4,133 theaters with over 8,500 prints while "Star Wars Episode III" took off with over 9,400 prints in North America in mid-May 2005.

The marketing campaign has been running on overdrive with numerous red carpet premieres around the world over the last two weeks. The push seems to be helping as "Spider-Man 3" has surpassed the opening day marks of its two older brothers in every market. The event film grossed a stunning $29.2M on its first day in 16 territories on Tuesday breaking the all-time opening day record in ten of them including France, Italy, Hong Kong, Egypt, Belgium, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The tally was more than the first-day grosses in the same countries of the first two "Spidey" films combined. By Sunday the juggernaut will be playing in a stunning 107 markets across the globe. North American audiences may follow suit and push "3" ahead of the then-record $114.8M opening of the first Peter Parker pic from five years ago this very weekend. That same size audience turning out this weekend at today’s ticket prices would unload about $130M domestically.


Spidey hangs comfortably knowing a big opening weekend is ahead.

Although the new tale has little competition on its second weekend, its spider legs may not be as strong as those of the previous webslinger films. The first two were very big crowdpleasers with many calling the second installment the better film. Expectations are sky high for the new one. Yes, the threequel is a fun thrill ride worthy of kicking off the summer popcorn season and boasts impressive action sequences and effects. But its weak script and cram-a-ton-of-stories-into-one-film feel will not make many fans think of it as the best "Spidey" yet. It becomes so much of a super hero soap opera by its midpoint that it won’t have the same word-of-mouth as the previous ones. While that will have no effect on the opening weekend gross, it could eat into repeat business down the road. Last summer’s "X-Men: The Last Stand" opened powerfully to $122.9M over the four-day Memorial Day frame but tumbled down to $16.1M by its third weekend.

When franchises hit the third installment, pressure mounts to offer something new to the table so casual fans don’t lose interest. What "Spider-Man 3" has going for it is the buzz that has circulated (naturally or artificially – you decide) about how this could be the final "Spider-Man" film for Raimi, Maguire, and Dunst together. That succeeds in giving the film a sense of urgency in that fans feel that this might be the last party for the beloved trio. Add in the magazine covers, talk show appearances, and globe-trotting premieres and Spider-Man has truly conquered pop culture this week which will make movie fans not want to be the only goofballs on Monday who didn’t see the can’t-miss blockbuster.

Advance ticketing has been running at a record pace. Movietickets.com has reported that sales are ahead of "Dead Man’s Chest" at the same point in the advance sales cycle and three times better when compared to "Spider-Man 2." Add in Thursday night midnight shows, and the higher-priced Imax venues where tickets run as much as $15 in New York City, and the grossing potential climbs even higher.

"Spider-Man 3" stands an excellent chance of setting a new industry record for the biggest opening in history. The marketing assault has been amazing, audience anticipation is sky high, competition is zero, and every screen out there is dumping its spring trash in favor of the Sandman flick. Towering over its foes, "Spider-Man 3" might swing into the friendly neighborhood of $140M over the Friday-to-Sunday span this weekend.

Who would dare go head-to-head against Spider-Man this weekend? The Hulk of course! Eric Bana joins forces with Drew Barrymore in the poker drama "Lucky You" which Warner Bros. is quietly dropping into the marketplace. Offered as a counter-programming option for adult women, the much-delayed film from director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential," "8 Mile") tells of a hardcore card shark who juggles rocky relationships with his need to win a tournament. The PG-13 film could not have asked for a more unlucky frame. Although countering super hero films with chick flicks can be a good move ("My Best Friend’s Wedding" vs. "Batman & Robin," "The Devil Wears Prada" vs. "Superman Returns"), this time this film just doesn’t have the goods. Buzz is low, reviews are bad, and Drew just isn’t the draw she used to be. Plus "Spider-Man 3" boasts plenty of female appeal so the choice will be simple for most women. Not likely to find full houses in its 2,525 theaters, "Lucky You" looks to settle for a distant second place showing with about $7M this weekend.


"I’m not sure this hand is strong enough to go against Spider-Man."

Elsewhere in the land of single-digit millions, "Disturbia" will end its three-week reign atop the charts. The Paramount thriller has been enjoying good legs with second and third weekend declines of 42% and 31%, respectively. This time the fall should be harder since "Spidey" will appeal to the exact same audience. A 45% drop would give "Disturbia" about $5M for the session and a solid 24-day cume of $59M.

The supernatural thriller "The Invisible" probably burned through much of its audience on opening weekend so a 50% drop to around $4M could result. That would give Buena Vista $13M after ten days. Fellow sophomore "Next" starring Nicolas Cage should collapse as well as moviegoers showed no interest last weekend. A 50% decline should lead to a $3.5M frame and a dismal ten-day total of only $13M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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