(Photo by Sony Pictures Classics)
There isn’t a whole lot that can be consistently counted on to deliver in this crazy modern world, but Cate Blanchett movies come pretty close. From Elizabeth to Carol, the Lord of the Rings franchise to Blue Jasmine (for which she won the Best Actress Oscar), she’s tackled a preposterously eclectic list of roles — and she’s nailed pretty much all of them, consistently imbuing her characters with enough inner life to elevate even subpar material and earning a mantel full of awards along the way.
By just about any criteria, Blanchett has put together one of the most widely acclaimed careers enjoyed by any actor working today — which makes it only natural for us to celebrate all that success by taking a fond look back at all the steps she took along the way. From her first major role to her most recent release, here’s Cate Blanchett’s complete filmography, ranked from worst to best.
(Photo by Wilson Webb / © The Weinstein Company / courtesy Everett Collection)
It’s been a few years since Cate Blanchett’s had an Oscar nomination — don’t you think it’s time again? Ever since Blanchett’s international breakthrough — 1998’s Elizabeth, which got her nominated for her first Best Actress nod — she’s been a regular fixture at the Dolby Theater for the Oscar ceremonies, where she’s frequently recognized for the good-humored elegance she brings to her most iconic roles. She was double-nominated in 2008 for I’m Not There and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, while 2005 and 2014 got her Oscar wins for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine, respectively.
Blanchett got her start in native Australia, where steady stage and television roles eventually landed her in films Paradise Road and Oscar and Lucinda, both 1997 releases. It was only a year later that Elizabeth put her on the road to household name status, which was followed up with a mix of comedies (Pushing Tin), literary thrillers (Talented Mr. Ripley), and dramas (Charlotte Gray). Blanchett’s brief but highly memorable appearances as Galadriel in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy meant fanboy cineaste goodwill for decades to come. Roles in the likes of Indiana Jones, Thor: Ragnarok, and The Aviator are just more on top.
Blanchett teams up with director Richard Linklater for Where’d You Go, Bernadette, based on the best-seller about an agoraphobic woman who goes missing. Is another awards contender imminent? Or is this something to show up on an “underrated gems” list on the internet somewhere in the future? Before we find out, we’re ranking Cate Blanchett’s best movies (and her worst) by Tomatometer!
Every year, the BAFTA film awards present a trophy for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema. Introduced in 1978, the award recognises an organisation or a person’s career and influence on the British Film Industry. This year’s recipient, announced today, is Pinewood/Shepperton, two of the British industry’s most important film studios whose contribution to filmmaking has resulted in some of the greatest movies of all time. Under strict instruction not to let anyone working at the studios know about the award, RT spent a day last week touring Pinewood and Shepperton and learning a little more about these stalwarts of film.
The Orange British Academy Film Awards begin on British TV on BBC Two from 8pm, continuing on BBC One from 9pm on Sunday 8 February. A preview show featuring interviews from the red carpet will be broadcast on BBC Three from 7pm.
Our tour begins at Pinewood, and the first thing that catches your eye as you head through the main gates is 007 stage. All but two of the official Bond films have featured scenes shot at Pinewood, and the franchise is a regular cash cow for the studio.
007 stage was built in 1976 for The Spy Who Loved Me, after the production was unable to find a stage big enough to contain the Liparus Supertanker set. At 59,000 square feet it’s the largest sound stage in Europe, and has burnt to the ground twice — most recently after filming had wrapped on Casino Royale in 2006. It’s been the Louvre for The Da Vinci Code, the Chocolate River Room for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and most recently played host to desert scenes and a Persian fort for videogame adaptation Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
One of the more exciting stages on the Pinewood lot is U-Stage, built in 2005 to provide a safe, permanent and controlled environment in which to shoot underwater. Managed by a permanent team of divers and specialists who assist productions shooting underwater footage on the stage, it holds 1.2 million litres of water which is maintained at a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius, 87 Fahrenheit.
Windows provide easy views underwater allowing RT to stay suitably dry for these shots as the team demonstrate their underwater camera. They wouldn’t tell us which production the boat belonged to, but we’ll know when the first of the Ant Pirates trilogy is announced any day now (probably).
From the surface, the team are able to feed into the camera from the video village. Scenes shot since the stage was built include the closing scene from The Bourne Ultimatum, Keira Knightley drowning in Atonement and the armada sequences from Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Pinewood’s city street, which can be dressed to look like just about any urban backdrop, is a familiar sight for RT. We were here just a few weeks ago visiting the set of Kick-Ass and the production had dressed the street as New York. The two storefronts in the middle of the picture here were dressed as Atomic Comics, the comic book shop featured in the movie. The interior set was built here too.
Providing a giant blue-screen backdrop, this outdoor tank (empty in the picture, obviously) is an ideal location for any shooting designed to look like it was filmed at sea. As comedienne Dawn French sank to the bottom at the end of the French and Saunders Titanic spoof she complained of a foul taste. Jennifer Saunders explained why: “It’s the old Bond tank. Three Bonds and George Lazenby have peed in this.”
The walls of Pinewood’s main offices are festooned with production art from the many films that have passed through the studio. Icons include the Carry On series, David Lean‘s Great Expectations, Superman, The Shining, Batman and Mission: Impossible. Over the last couple of years Mamma Mia!, Quantum of Solace, Sweeney Todd, The Bourne Ultimatum and Stardust, to name a few, were shot here.
And so to Shepperton, where we’re quickly informed to keep quiet on the two big projects on the go at the studios. Signs for both litter the lot, but announcements haven’t gone out and the management team are keen to respect their tenants’ privacy. Opened in 1931 as Sound Lighting Studios, Shepperton has changed hands many times, with former owners including Ridley and Tony Scott and The Who.
Slightly smaller than Pinewood, Shepperton has played host to a slew of movies including The African Queen, The Third Man, Dr. Strangelove, the Pink Panther movies and Batman Begins. Sir John Mills worked at the studio on Great Expectations and The Colditz Story. “What has always remained with me about working at Shepperton has been the sheer professionalism of everyone, both in front of and behind the camera,” he said.
Aside from being a former owner of the studios, Ridley Scott has returned to Shepperton many times over the years, having shot Alien, Legend, Thelma and Louise and Gladiator here. “From the moment I entered Shepperton, I knew the place was special,” he says. “Anywhere that had had within its walls Carol Reed directing Orson Welles in The Third Man, was going to mean a great deal to me.”
H-Stage at Shepperton was moved from Isleworth Studios in 1948 and has played host to many of the most ambitious sets built on site. A full-scale reproduction of Sir Walter Raleigh’s ship the Tyger was built on hydraulic rams on this stage for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and just a few years ago H-Stage housed the Batcave from Batman Begins. Built over 9 weeks, the set was 250ft long, 120ft wide and 40ft high and 12,000 gallons of water flowed through it every minute, serving a waterfall, a river and the dripping cave walls.
If you have a spare £300,000 hidden down the back of the sofa, you could spend it on your very own version of the Korda Theatre, a state-of-the-art facility for sound mixing. Named after Hungarian producer/director Alexander Korda, whose contribution to British cinema in the 40s and 50s was vast, features mixed here include Shakespeare in Love, Gosford Park and Troy.
Shepperton’s Littleton Manor, known as the Old House, dates back to the 13th Century and houses production offices and facilities. Its corridors doubled for interior shots of the hospital where Damian was born in The Omen while the grounds served as a backdrop for an encounter between Father Brennan and Damian’s father.
It may look like any other overgrown British stream, but this is a fully-fledged river that runs through Shepperton’s backlot. As hard as it may be to believe, this scene doubled as Africa for the Bogart/Hepburn classic The African Queen. One of the studios’ popular legends goes that there’s an unusually large number of parakeets in the area because they were released during the production of that movie.
Built for The Golden Compass, Shepperton now has its very own Western street on the backlot, which marks the last spot on our tour. We’re not entirely convinced the British weather is going to help to complete the Wild West look, but it seemed to be pretty convincing as part of the His Dark Materials adaptation.
It’s a week of bravura performances among new releases, so pick your favorite headliner and go: Jodie Foster going vigilante (The Brave One), Casey Affleck turning traitor (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), or Cate Blanchett reigning supreme (Elizabeth: The Golden Age).
Vigilante justice has a petite new heroine in Jodie Foster, who stars in and executive produced The Brave One. The victim of a random act of violence, nighttime radio host Erica Bain (Foster) survives but loses her fiancé (Lost‘s Naveen Andrews); arming herself with a gun, she finds her bloodlust increasing as she becomes the city’s mysterious dark angel while a cop (Terrence Howard) begins to piece together the puzzle. But despite a Golden Globes-nominated performance by Foster, critics were split; whether you’ll enjoy it may depend on your preference for exploitation films or intellectual character studies.
Turning in his second stellar performance of the year (after starring in brother Ben Affleck‘s Gone Baby Gone) is Casey Affleck, who plays titular gunman Robert Ford to Brad Pitt‘s outlaw Jesse James in Andrew Dominik‘s poetic Western. The true story of James’ death is fascinating in itself — James, famous for leading a gang of bank robbers with his brother Frank, was shot in the back by a member of his own inner circle. Dominik’s adaptation of Ron Hansen’s novel applies a dual focus to both Jesse James and his killer, “Bob” Ford, allowing the film to become not only a historical retelling but a meditation on self-destruction and celebrity. If you love the visual daring of Terrence Malick, and wonder what the heck happened to Britney Spears, this should make for an intriguing time.
Proving that critics can overwhelmingly scold a film but the Academy of Motion Picture and Sciences will still deem it Oscar-worthy, Shekhar Kapur‘s follow-up to 1998’s Elizabeth finds the Virgin Queen (double-Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett) on the brink of war with Spain and dealing with her own forbidden attraction to the roguish Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen). Viewers hungry for the film’s sumptuous production design and costumes will enjoy a bonus menu of behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and Kapur’s feature-length commentary.
The music catalog of the Fab Four has been used before to illustrate a storyline — we’ll forgive Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees their abuse of the Beatles’ songbook in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — but writer-director Julie Taymor makes magnificently poppy use of it in this splashy, epic musical. Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess star as young lovers who along with their friends get swept along with pivotal events of the 1960s (race riots, bohemia, Vietnam) via song, every number inventively designed to borrow meaning from the lyrics of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Julie Delpy stars in her writing and directing debut about a dysfunctional couple (Delpy and Adam Goldberg) at the tail end of a vacation, and possibly their relationship, spending the titular time in the City of Love. Critics found the comedy of relationship errors sharply observed and charming; also of interest on the DVD release is a 16-minute interview with Delpy, who not only wrote and directed the film, but served as composer and producer.
Teenager Finn (Anton Yelchin) would rather spend his summer studying the “fierce people” of South America with his anthropologist father, but must accompany his mother (Diane Lane) to live among the country club set with her former client (Donald Sutherland), based on the novel by Dirk Wittenborn.
Rosario Dawson plays a co-ed rape victim who overcomes her subsequent social and psychological withdrawal to seek revenge upon her attacker; despite Dawson’s noble performance, critics can’t forgive the story its artful pretension or its degrading conclusion.
This week’s pick of CG offerings is also the number one choice for camp value: an all-new cartoon version of The Ten Commandments, featuring Christian Slater as Moses! Unfortunately (rather, even more unfortunately) the familiar tale of Red Sea-parting and tablets from God is poorly animated…giving voice actors Slater, Alfred Molina (Rameses), Elliott Gould (God) and Ben Kingsley (Narrator) an even harder sell.
‘Til next week, happy renting!
The nominations for the 65th annual Golden Globe Awards were announced this morning. Did your favorite films, stars, and songs make the cut?
The nominees were read at the Beverly Hilton by a surreal panel consisting of Dane Cook, Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Reynolds, and Quentin Tarantino. The film nominations follow below, with Tomatometers in parentheses:
American Gangster (79 percent)
Atonement (85 percent)
Eastern Promises (88 percent)
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton (90 percent)
No Country for Old Men (95 percent)
There Will Be Blood (100 percent)
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (34 percent)
Julie Christie, Away From Her (95 percent)
Jodie Foster, The Brave One (45 percent)
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart (77 percent)
Keira Knightley, Atonement
Actor, Musical or Comedy:
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl (78 percent)
Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson’s War
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Savages (89 percent)
John C. Reilly, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (75 percent)
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
John Travolta, Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (94 percent)
Ridley Scott, American Gangster
Joe Wright, Atonement
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Romania (96 percent)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, France and U.S.
The Kite Runner, U.S. (65 percent)
Lust, Caution, Taiwan (64 percent)
Persepolis, France (100 percent)
Michael Brook, Kaki King, Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild (82 percent)
Clint Eastwood, Grace Is Gone (70 percent)
Alberto Iglesias, The Kite Runner
Dario Marianelli, Atonement
Howard Shore, Eastern Promises
Original Song: Despedida from Love in the Time of Cholera (28 percent)
Grace Is Gone from Grace Is Gone
Guaranteed from Into the Wild
That’s How You Know from Enchanted
Walk Hard from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Just when we thought we’d seen all the year-end kudos we can handle, along come the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards — and the Critics Choice Awards nominations — to prove us wrong.
Nominees for the Critics Choice Awards were announced Tuesday morning, with Into the Wild leading the pack at seven nominations, including picture, director, writer, actor, supporting actor, supporting actress, and best song. Close behind, with six nominations, is Juno; Atonement, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd, and Hairspray each earned five. A partial list of nominations appears below:
George Clooney — Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis — There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp — Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling — Lars and the Real Girl
Emile Hirsch — Into the Wild
Viggo Mortensen — Eastern Promises
Casey Affleck — The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem — No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman — Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook — Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson — Michael Clayton
Tim Burton — Sweeney Todd
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen — No Country for Old Men
Sidney Lumet — Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Sean Penn — Into the Wild
Julian Schnabel — The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joe Wright — Atonement
Diablo Cody — Juno
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen — No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy — Michael Clayton
Nancy Oliver — Lars and the Real Girl
Sean Penn — Into the Wild
Aaron Sorkin — Charlie Wilson’s War
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle has announced its 2007 favorites. Check ’em out:
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
Best Original Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay
Away from Her
George Clooney for Michael Clayton
Julie Christie for Away from Her
Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Ryan for Gone Baby Gone
Best Foreign Language Film
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No End in Sight
When Shekhar Kapur made Elizabeth in 1998 and began his journey charting the life of the virgin queen, he picked up an Oscar nod for Best Picture and helped his crew, and lead actress Cate Blanchett, secure their own nominations. Nine years later and the story continues in The Golden Age, exploring the events leading up to the Spanish Armada and Elizabeth I’s relationship with Sir Walter Raleigh. Rotten Tomatoes met with the director to learn more.
It was surprising to learn in the press notes that you’ve been very open in terms of liberties you’ve had to take with regards historical accuracy. How do you define the line between being historically accurate and telling a good story?
Shekhar Kapur: One of the things that I believe is that history is interpretation. One of the things I realised making the last film is that people called herthe Virgin Queen and the moment you say she’s the Virgin Queen, you’re already consigning her to myth. And myth isn’t historically accurate. Did Walter Raleigh really put the cape down or is that mythology? You just don’t know. There are certain basic facts, like the fact that the Armada existed, but according to the textbooks you’ll read the Armada was won by Drake, and yet when you interpret the facts you could conclude that the Armada was won by big freak storms, so it was won by the Gods. Which interpretation to do take?
Also if I made a film about Cleopatra today no-one would expect me to make it historically accurate because they agree that Cleopatra has been consigned to mythology. The moment you create an icon you’ve consigned to mythology anyway. Look at Diana, people are saying did she die? Did someone kill her? You’ve already consigned her to mythology. Things get very mixed up and so you interpret those things that have become more famous in the mythology of history.
The speech at Tilbury for example; I’ve always wondered if she’s addressing 10,000 men, how many of them heard it? Did the people at the front pass it on? Yet, every book you read says the 10,000 people roared with approval! It has to be myth! Did she just speak to her commanders who then interpreted it down to their soldiers? And what had changed by the time the last soldier had heard it? And did she write the speech? Did she speak it instinctively? All rulers have speech writers. Was it history or was it mythology? And who can tell?
At the same time it’s potentially quite brave of a filmmaker to make your own interpretation and on occasion challenge the scholars and the writers of textbooks.
SK: It’s the only thing a filmmaker can do – history doesn’t follow a three-act structure unfortunately! And there’s a difference between people who write the textbooks and scholars. Scholars say they’re interpreting. Scholarly work on history is always an interpretation and it’s very honest. They say up-front, “I’ve looked at this and looked at this and looked at this and therefore I coalesce these one-hundred different facts and come up with this interpretation. And it’s exactly the same in film because we have to tell our story in two hours. You do the Armada in three minutes… It was a six month long battle.
You’ve mentioned this is the second act in a planned trilogy; where do you pick up the story for part three?
SK: It has become a trilogy as I go on! This film ends with her becoming truly divine. Philip [of Spain] was divine and as you can see I’m heading towards that divine battle and the elements get involved and ultimately that’s the big myth that we’re heading to in the current-day world.
What’s interesting about Elizabeth is that all the great myths that we remember as people were killed. Ghandi was killed, he was divine, Diana was killed, she was divine, John F. Kennedy was killed, he was divine. Elizabeth is the only one who stayed divine, worshipped and died a natural death. How do you deal with people saying, you’re divine, you’re the Virgin Mary, while you’re alive? How do you come to terms with that? So it’ll be an interpretation of her own divinity and her own mortality, when she suddenly become ordinary and doesn’t live forever. Because of course you can’t sleep like Michael Jackson in an oxygen chamber.
Will we be waiting another nine years?
SK: I hope not, I hope that Cate will agree to do it earlier. People have said that Elizabeth was very old at that time and asked whether I’d be waiting for Cate to get that old and I’m saying no, cinematic age is an emotional age, it’s an interpreted age. If you see Cate now it’s amazing to see her in the film sitting down with drawn features. I’m convincing myself that she’s much, much older than she is. As soon as I say cut, she looks right at me and says, “What did you think of that?” And it’s ten years younger, her face. An actor will convince you of an age, and great actors are ageless as great icons are ageless. That’s cinema.
once again proved he is a forced to be reckoned with as his latest film
Did I Get Married? easily took the number one spot at the box office
this weekend, nearly doubling the nearest competitor. The other debuting films
met with so-so results and there’s a tight race for the runner-up spot.
The filmgoing audience showed once again that if Tyler Perry headlines a film,
they’re going to come out to see it.
Did I Get Married? brought in an estimated $21.5M this weekend for
a powerful per screen average of $10,691. The opening was on par with Perry’s
first smash, 2005’s
Diary of a
Mad Black Woman which opened with $21.9M and an even stronger $14,771
average. Unlike the last film with Perry’s name attached,
Girls, which opened with a softer $11.2M, Why Did I Get Married?
features Perry in a starring role. Throw in the popular
as a co-star and you’ve got a formula for success.
Dropping one spot was two-time box office champ
in The Game Plan
which fell only 30% this weekend to an estimated $11.5M. The 30% drop was easily
the best hold in the top 10 this week, and its cume now stands at $59.4M. With
the recent success of comedies featuring tough guys and cute kids, it seems only
a matter of time before there’s a sequel to
Battling The Rock for second place were two films that were within $10,000 of
each other this weekend. Currently sitting in third is the
Clayton. Expanding nationally from its successful debut last weekend,
the Warner Bros. award hopeful took in an estimated $11M this weekend, for a
solid per screen average of $4,385, bringing its cume to $12.1M. Following
closely on its heels was the
We Own the Night
which also debuted to an estimated $11M, for a per screen average of $4,179.
When the actual numbers come in on Monday, the 2nd through 4th films could
easily move around.
Falling 47% from its less-than-powerful opening last weekend was the
The Heartbreak Kid which laughed up an estimated $7.4M this weekend,
bringing its total to a disappointing $26M. Look for a final theatrical run in
the $45-50M range, which is reasonable for a lot of films, but not for a Ben
Opening in sixth place this weekend was the historical sequel
Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Bringing back star
Shekhar Kapur nine years after the success of the original
didn’t mean much for audiences as the film brought in an estimated $6.2M this
weekend for a per screen average of $3,169. A run on early season awards could
help the overall gross of the film, otherwise it may fade away quickly.
In seventh was the war drama
The Kingdom which
fell 53% from last weekend to an estimated $4.5M. Its total now stands at a
shade under $40M. Adding a few hundred screens this weekend and crashing into
the top 10 was
Universe which features the songs of the Beatles. The film took in $4M
in its fourth weekend, according to estimates, bringing its total to $12.9M.
In ninth place this weekend was
Evil: Extinction which took in $2.6M in its fourth lap around the
country, bringing its total to $48M. And rounding out the top 10 was
The Dark is Rising which fell 42% from its soft opening last weekend to
an estimated $2.1M. Its cume stands at $7M and it should end up in the $12-14M
range with some hope for success on DVD. The only other film debuting this
weekend was the high school baseball pic
The Final Season
which opened to an estimated $665K for a per screen average of a pitiful $658.
Look for the film to quickly appear in DVD bargain bins.
Author: Sujit Chawla, www.boxofficeguru.com
This week at the movies we got lawyer types (Michael
Swinton), dueling brothers (We Own the Night,
starring Joaquin Phoenix and
virgin queens (Elizabeth:
The Golden Age, starring
baseball hopefuls (The
Final Season, starring
Sean Astin and
Beatles-inspired lovers (Across the Universe,
starring Evan Rachel
and reunited college friends (Tyler Perry’s Why Did I
Get Married?). What say ye, critics?
Critics frequently bemoan the fact that movies are no
longer made for adults. Who better to come to their rescue than
oft-called the Cary Grant of our generation? Clooney stars in
Michael Clayton as
a washed-up legal consultant caught up in a pesticide case that isn’t quite what
it seems, with support from Tilda
Tom Wilkinson, and
With strong performances all around, critics call this a challenging but
rewarding movie that also doesn’t skimp out on the popcorn factor.
At a Certified Fresh 89 percent, critics sustain Michael Clayton‘s appeal.
Actors frequently re-team with directors they’ve worked with before. But two principal actors? Only once in a blue moon. Such an
event strikes for
We Own the Night, a crime drama/thriller about two brothers on
opposite sides of the law. The film reunites
Joaquin Phoenix and
with director James Gray, who all previously created 2000’s
The Yards. But the
trio isn’t having as much luck the second time around: critics say Night cribs from
The Godfathers and
The Departed, while relying too heavily
on improbable plot turns to fuel the action. But moviegoers who don’t expect
anything particularly original can have a reasonably good time. At 50 percent,
Night gets close, but doesn’t quite Own.
is one of the best actresses on the planet today, and with
Elizabeth: The Golden Age,
she revisits the role that made her a star. Big mistake, critics say. Age
picks up where its predecessor left off, with the Virgin Queen navigating the
rough waters of political unrest in 16th Century Europe, as well as palace
intrigue closer to home. The pundits say the costume and set design are
impeccable, but otherwise, this is a campy, bombastic flick, filled with silly
dialogue and featuring a script that’s more hysterical than historical. At 29 percent on the Tomatometer, this one ain’t golden. And it’s a steep drop from
the Certified Fresh
original (at 79 percent).
It’s October, and that means it’s time for some
super-dramatic baseball action. Unfortunately, we’re talking about the MLB
The Final Season, which critics say is as predictable as
Alex Rodriguez failing in the clutch. Directed by
David Mickey Evans (who helmed
the cult-fave The Sandlot), Season is the story of a tiny Iowa
high school with a proud baseball tradition that may come to an end because of
redistricting. Season features a strong cast that includes
Powers Boothe, and
Rachael Leigh Cook, and the film oozes sincerity. But pundits
say it’s as safe as an intentional walk and as clichéd as a post-game interview.
At 11 percent on the Tomatometer, The Final Season is way below the
cinematic Mendoza line.
Is there anybody going to listen to this story, all about
Julie Taymor‘s attempt to capture the zeitgeist of the 1960s through the music
of the Beatles? As far as
Across the Universe goes, some critics say
stop, others say go, go, go. Universe is the story of Lucy (Evan Rachel
Wood) and Jude (Jim Sturgess), a young couple who stalk across the political and
social landscape of the tumultuous decade to the tune of such classics as "Come
Together," "Helter Skelter," and "All You Need is Love." The critics are pretty
split on Universe: some say the film is an audacious, beautiful movie
that will make you feel all right. But others say it’s all wrong (that is, they
think they disagree), calling the film an exercise in excess with bland
characters. We hope the film’s 52 percent Tomatometer will
Help! you decide to see it or not.
With his heartfelt domestic dramedies, Tyler Perry has
established himself as a commercial sure thing. But he’s yet to win over
critics, which may be why his latest,
Tyler Perry’s Why Did I
wasn’t screened before release. It’s the story of a reunion of college friends,
who, over the course of a long weekend together, begin to question their
marriages. Guess the Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release:
biopic of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, is at 90 percent (check out our interview with director Anton Corbijn
Schroder‘s documentary portrait of an
attorney for the undefendable, is at 83 percent on the Tomatometer;
the Real Girl, starring
Ryan Gosling as a delusional guy dating a female doll, is at 78 percent (check out our review from Toronto
a drama about a family dealing with one member’s schizophrenia, is at 71
Golda’s Balcony, about the Israeli prime minister, is at 64
percent; and Sleuth, an update of the 1972 murder mystery starring
Michael Caine and
Jude Law, is at 48 percent.
Five new films push their way into nationwide release on Friday hoping to challenge two-time champ The Rock making for what should be a free-for-all at the North American box office with many different studios having a realistic shot at claiming the number one spot. Among the top contenders are Sony’s crime thriller We Own the Night, the Lionsgate comedy Why Did I Get Married?, and the George Clooney vehicle Michael Clayton which expands nationally after its scorching debut in limited release. Adding to the mix are the costume drama Elizabeth: The Golden Age and the baseball tale The Final Season. The box office race should be a tight one with as many as four films likely to reach the low double digit millions.
Oscar nominated actors Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix face off as brothers on different sides of the law in the new action thriller We Own the Night. The R-rated pic co-stars Robert Duvall and Eva Mendes and will target an adult audience with a slightly male skew. The former Marky Mark proved his box office pull last spring as the only major star in Shooter which bowed to $14.5M and a $5,176 average by targeting the same audience. Things will be more difficult this time because of the intense competition for mature audiences especially from Michael Clayton. But Night‘s biggest advantage over Michael is that it has two commercial stars instead of just one. The combo should lead to a slim edge at the cash registers.
Despite its awkward title, Night has been pushing itself as an action-packed thriller with faces people love to watch. Reviews have been mixed and with such a crowded field, it will be hard to stand out as a must-see option. Starpower should be the main factor here and showdowns between two solid actors are usually popular with ticket buyers. Opening in over 2,000 theaters, We Own the Night could debut to about $12M.
Clayton will test his drawing power since the film has no other box office anchors in it. Co-stars Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, and Sydney Pollack are well-respected, but they don’t sell tickets. There is plenty of direct competition which is why the film got a head start a week early. Buzz from its red hot platform bow has spread helping to build interest. The crowd will consist of the same people that opened Syriana to $11.7M, The Black Dahlia to $10M, and Zodiac to $13.4M. Night will take away some males and Elizabeth will steal some females so a huge gross will be hard to find. But over the long-term the film could have legs. Expanding into 2,511 locations, Michael Clayton stands as the widest of the new offerings and may capture around $11M over the Friday-to-Sunday period.
Married does not have the promotional value of Black History Month or the help of Presidents Day which Girls had early this year. However, Perry’s new film will not face any direct competitors for its target audience. Girls had to face the second weekend of Eddie Murphy‘s hit comedy Norbit which offered some audience overlap. Plus Married boasts more starpower with Perry back on screen and an added boost will come from Janet Jackson who is always a strong draw at the box office with the target audience every time she makes a rare appearance in a movie. The PG-13 film from Lionsgate is unlike anything else in the marketplace right now and with few buzzworthy films aimed at black moviegoers in recent months, it should successfully connect. Debuting in 2,011 theaters, Why Did I Get Married? might open with roughly $12M this weekend.
The first Elizabeth opened in limited release in November 1998 and rolled through awards season that winter eventually reaching an impressive $30M while never playing in more than 600 theaters. It also bagged seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture. Now the studio is hoping that a built-in audience will want to take another trip to the past. Though the first was an acclaimed picture, no real demand ever surfaced for a sequel. So it will be tough for Golden Age at the box office especially with all the competition. Female-led dramas often struggle in the marketplace since it is often too hard for adult women to drag men with them to the multiplex for these stories. New films from Clooney and Wahlberg offer more cross-gender appeal. Ordering her troops into 2,000 theaters on Friday, Elizabeth: The Golden Age might take home about $8M over the three-day period.
Paramount and DreamWorks were caught by surprise by the lack of strength for the opening of the Ben Stiller comedy The Heartbreak Kid. With nothing to keep it afloat, a 45% decline might be in order especially since adults will be distracted by a wide assortment of other options. That would give the Farrelly brothers a sophomore session of about $7.5M and a cume of only $25.5M after ten days.
LAST YEAR: Sony used the Friday the 13th before Halloween to launch the sequel to one of the most successful horror films in history and captured the number one spot. The Grudge 2 bowed on top with $20.8M accounting for more than half of its $39.1M final. Eventual Oscar champ The Departed slipped to second with $19M easing only 29% for Warner Bros. The Robin Williams political comedy Man of the Year debuted in third with $12.3M before finishing with a disappointing $37.3M for Universal. Rounding out the top five were the Sony toon Open Season with $11.1M and New Line’s fright franchise flick Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning with $7.5M for a steep 60% plunge. Opening with weak results in sixth was the action pic The Marine with $7.1M on its way to $18.8M for Fox. The religious-themed drama One Night with the King bowed to $4.1M with a good $4,518 average and finished with $13.4M for 8X.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com