(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail: A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection; Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection.)
Between Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell, and Always Be My Maybe in recent years, there’s been a surge in Asian-American representation on screens of all sizes. These films are milestones in what has been a long, continuous journey to be seen and heard in theaters and at home, and we celebrate those contemporary hits and everything else that has come before them with the 65 Best Asian-American Movies.
To be Asian-American means a personal identity spread across a coalition of different countries. Under this umbrella is a wide range of Pacific Ocean cultures and histories, countries whose people have also found a new life in the United States. The movies in our guide reflect their experiences, from Korean (Columbus, Minari), Chinese (Saving Face), Singaporean (Shirkers), Japanese (To Be Takei), Filipino (The Debut), Vietnamese (Green Dragon), and more. South Asian-American films included are The Big Sick, The Namesake, and Meet the Patels.
We selected movies where the Asian-American experience drives character and story, or had a significant impact on Asian-American audiences due to its casting, the filmmakers behind it, and for breaking representational ground (Searching, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before). The Asian-American experience is sometimes about traveling to a foreign “home” country, explored in movies like Always Tomorrow in Hong Kong, Go Back to China, and Cavite. And sometimes the experience is about coming to America and becoming citizens, as in Journey From the Fall or Tigertail. These stories start overseas, but are also set and shot in America, so we included those.
The historical landmark films are here, including Chan Is Missing, The Joy Luck Club, and Better Luck Tomorrow. All except for Flower Drum Song: This 1961 musical was the first major Hollywood production to have an Asian-American cast, but it’s also Rotten on the Tomatometer. We included only Fresh movies, with at least 10 reviews, before ranking them using our ranking formula, takes into factor the movie’s year of release and its number of reviews.
With all that said, we present the Best Asian-American Movies of all time!
As we near the end of the summer movie season, you may start to notice that there are fewer and fewer worthy choices at the multiplex, and you might just want to spend the weekend at home instead. If that’s the case, and movies like The Meg, The Happytime Murders, Crazy Rich Asians, or Alpha aren’t particularly appealing to you, here’s a list of some solid new choices streaming on Netflix in August.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in Martin Scorsese’s multiple Oscar-winning 2004 biopic of legendary filmmaker, businessman, and pilot Howard Hughes.
Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson star in Kevin Smith’s feature debut comedy that follows the lives of a convenience store clerk and his best buddy who works at the video store next door.
Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this drama about a curmudgeonly veteran who grapples with his racial insensitivities when he develops a relationship with the Hmong neighborhood kid he catches trying to steal his car.
Matt Damon stars in Steven Soderbergh’s tongue-in-cheek retelling of the true story of corporate whistleblower and sometimes unreliable FBI informant Mark Whitacre.
Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, and Ian McKellen lead an ensemble cast in the first chapter of Peter Jackson’s genre-defining fantasy epic trilogy based on the novels of J.R.R. Tolkein.
Clint Eastwood’s multiple Oscar-winning sports drama follows a down-on-his-luck trainer (Eastwood) who reluctantly agrees to work with an aspiring female boxer (Hilary Swank) when her tenacity wins him over.
Diane Lane and John Malkovich star in this inspirational sports drama from Disney, based on the true story of the titular 1973 Triple Crown-winning racehorse.
Kevins Kline and Costner, Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Jeff Goldblum, and Rosanna Arquette headline an all-star cast in Lawrence Kasdan’s 1985 western about four men who band together in opposition to a corrupt sheriff.
Before Ghostbusters, director Ivan Reitman and stars Bill Murray and Harold Ramis (who also wrote both films) collaborated on this comedy about a couple of slackers who join the Army and get into all kinds of trouble.
Sarah Bolger stars in this twist on the home invasion thriller in which a babysitter slowly reveals her sinister side to the children she’s watching over.
Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer star in this Netflix original comedy about a woman who’s left at the alter by her fiancee and ends up taking her estranged father on what would have been her honeymoon.
Lily James and Michiel Huisman star in Mike Newell’s period drama set in 1946 about a writer who receives a letter from a literary club located on a Nazi-occupied island and decides to visit.
Lauren Gussis’ Netflix original dark comedy series centers on a vengeful, bullied woman who decides to become a beauty pageant queen under the tutelage of her attorney.
Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem star in the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning dramatic thriller about a man who discovers a briefcase full of cash, the deadly hitman ordered to retrieve it, and the grizzled local sheriff trying to make sense of it all.
This CW sci-fi series centers on a group of juvenile delinquents who are sent back to a post-apocalyptic Earth to see if it is habitable again. Season 5 comes to Netflix this month.
Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, and West Studi star in Scott Cooper’s western about an Army captain tasked with escorting a Cheyenne war chief and his family through dangerous territory back to his tribal lands.
The Simpsons and Futurama creator Matt Groening takes to the past in his new Netflix animated series about a young princess, her elf companion, her personal demon, and their wild, fantasy-tinged misadventures.
Briga Heelan, Andrea Martin, and John Michael Higgins star in this Tina Fey-produced NBC sitcom about a news anchor struggling to set herself apart from her peers.
Kristen Bell and Ted Danson star in this high-concept sitcom about a rude, selfish slacker who dies unceremoniously and shockingly finds herself among the residents of an afterlife utopia.
This documentary examines the growing income gap in the United States and explores the effects it has on society at large.
Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star in this Netflix original crime drama about a finance man who runs afoul of drug lords and moves his family to a remote resort community in an effort to make amends… and possibly find a way out.
This week on DVD, celebrate the big screen heroics of two former movie heroes (Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, Harrison Ford in Crossing Over) or watch Clive Owen and Naomi Watts do battle with an evil bank (Tom Tykwer’s The International). If comedy is more your style, you can go low-brow (the cheerleading comedy Fired Up!) or worse: direct to DVD (the bowling comedy Strike! starring Tara Reid). Take a gamble on a twisty, stylized thriller about kidnapping and dysfunctional families (Nobel Son, starring Eliza Dushku and Alan Rickman) or take your chances with a critically panned race drama (Spinning into Butter, starring Sarah Jessica Parker). What’ll it be?
A crabby old man comes to terms with his racial insensitivities (and comes to blows with a local gang of thugs) in Gran Torino, a film that showed us not only that director-producer Clint Eastwood still has it, but also that even a septuagenarian can be a shotgun-wielding antihero in the 21st century. Eastwood stars as the grizzled war veteran Walt Kowalski, a widower who develops a tenuous friendship with the Hmong family that lives next door while defending them from a local gang. Despite dipping into tongue-in-cheek comedy, this violent melodrama works on the sheer strength of Eastwood’s performance; catch Eastwood relaying his own Gran Torino experience on a Blu-ray-exclusive special feature.
Next: Harrison Ford in Crossing Over
Crossing Over —
Speaking of old men, Crossing Over stars Harrison Ford in Wayne Kramer‘s mishmash of a melodramatic tale about people from all walks of life (illegally) seeking the American Dream. As a Los Angeles immigration agent, Ford stumbles across — or, as always in this type of familiar LA tale, crashes into — one illegal immigrant after another, from a desperate deported mother (Alice Braga) to a British musician (Across the Universe‘s Jim Sturgess) and his Australian girlfriend (Alice Eve) who herself is sleeping with an ICE officer in exchange for legal status (Ray Liotta). Then you’ve got the Bangladeshi student (Summer Bishil), the Korean kid (Twilight‘s Justin Chon), an irate Iranian (Cliff Curtis), and Ashley Judd. Critics pummeled the heavy-handed drama, which director Kramer and studio execs notoriously squabbled over; no special features are included in the disc.
Next: Fired Up: raunchy but watchable?
When two high school jocks decide to chase girls all the way to cheerleader camp one summer, does hilarity ensue? That depends on your tolerance for well meaning-but-flat jokes, as critics decreed that Fired Up! tries hard but ultimately fails to capture anything but raunchy, formulaic comedy. With rated-R gags reworked to fit into a PG-13 rating, Fired Up! might appeal to those who snicker at sex jokes and the name Freedom Jones (which is the apparently made-up person credited with the film’s script); a generous helping of funny bonus features and an audio commentary by director Will Gluck and actors Nicholas D’Agostino and Eric Christian Olsen actually make this a watchable, if juvenile, DVD offering. After all, what do those initials spell?
Next: Clive Owen battles an evil bank in The International
Dancing close to the edge of Freshness, this Clive Owen–Naomi Watts thriller is the perfect movie to watch on DVD — you know, the kind of flick that you pass over in theaters and figure you’ll see eventually. Director Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run) injects his signature frenetic energy into the story of an Interpol agent (Owen) and a NYC district attorney (Watts) trying to take down a global financial conglomerate. And in these tough economic times, who can’t relate to fighting back against a villainous bank? While some of the story unfolds rather slowly, one show-stopping set piece shootout in the middle of the Guggenheim museum will leave you breathless. See how they did it in one of a handful of featurettes, which accompany a single deleted scene, filmmaker commentary, and more.
Next: Strike bowls a gutter ball
Have you been wondering where Tara Reid, Robert Carradine, and Robyn Lively had disappeared to? We found them all in this direct-to-DVD sports comedy, about a slacker actor who flirts with fame and fortune as a professional bowler, only to destroy his personal relationships in the process. It’s a comedy, see? Unfortunately, we’ve seen this formula before (remember Kingpin?) and with a lower budget and newbie filmmakers at the helm, it doesn’t even come close to striking gold — more like a turkey, but not the good kind.
Next: Sarah Jessica Parker Spinning a clunker
Sarah Jessica Parker toplines this misfire adapted from Rebecca Gilman’s celebrated 1999 play of the same name, but the success of said original play might just be what’s wrong with the film. Director Mark Brokaw seems to cater too much to the play’s stagey plotting, and the result is a stilted, forced meditation on racism and denial. Parker stars as Sarah Daniels, Dean of Students at a liberal Vermont college who takes it upon herself to champion a campus forum to discuss race relations in the mostly white campus community; as tensions rise, the cast of one-dimensional characters take their turn atop the cinematic soapbox in an attempt to confront the ugliness of prejudice head on, though Brokaw’s ineffective direction and a monologue-driven script make for a painful movie watching experience.
Next: An exclusive look at Eliza Dushku in Nobel Son
The makers of this indie thriller describe it as having “so many twists it could make David Mamet blush,” to which we ask, would that really be a good thing? Bryan Greenburg (One Tree Hill) stars as Barkley Michaelson, the nerdy PhD student son of a brilliant, if terrible, Nobel Prize-winning scientist (Alan Rickman). When Barkley scores a date with a hot poet named City Hall (Eliza Dushku), it seems like his night’s off to a great start — that is, until he’s kidnapped by Shawn Hatosy, tortured, and held for a ransom that his father refuses to pay. Lots of twists, turns, and cannibalism come into play in the over-stylized thriller, which also features appearances by Danny DeVito, Mary Steenburgen, Ted Danson, Bill Pullman, and Ernie Hudson.
Next: The ’70s will never die as long as you have Woodstock on DVD/Blu-ray!
Hippies old and new should take a look at the 40th Anniversary Director’s Cut of this seminal rock documentary, which captured the three-day 1969 love fest in upstate New York that served as a touchstone for an entire generation. The newly remastered version of director Michael Wadleigh’s film — edited by the likes of Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker — also contains an extra hour of never before seen concert footage and is a must-own for former flower children and fans of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Jefferson Airplane, and the 20-odd musical performers who took the stage. Blu-ray owners have the added benefit of building interactive playlists that can be shared with other BD viewers.
Until next week, happy renting!
This weekend the North American box office was on fire once again as four new releases all scored muscular debuts helping to drive the marketplace to the biggest January weekend in history as ticket buyers flooded the multiplexes over a record-shattering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame. The Kevin James comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop surged ahead of expectations to easily win the session while the R-rated films My Bloody Valentine 3D and Notorious also generated stellar numbers. Kidpic Hotel for Dogs debuted to some nice figures as well joining its fellow newcomers in the top five. All four new films opened to more than $20M each over the extended four-day Friday-to-Monday period.
Santa must have given Hollywood studios crystal balls because just about everything tossed into theaters over the last four weeks has been met with a great response from moviegoers who seem to be in the mood to see anything. In fact since Christmas, a whopping eleven films have opened to $17M or more. That compares to just four from the same period a year ago. The Top 20 grossed a jaw-dropping $185M over the Friday-to-Sunday span this weekend beating last Thanksgiving’s holiday frame by an amazing 15%. Over the four-day span, the Top 20 soared to $222M edging last Memorial Day’s Friday-to-Monday session by 3%. The MLK frame has never been this potent.
Sony topped the charts with Paul Blart taking in an estimated $39M over four days beating the studio’s most aggressive forecasts. The PG-rated comedy averaged a superb $12,405 from 3,144 locations and established James as a bankable funnyman. Look for future paydays to climb rapidly. Having anchored the hit sitcom King of Queens, the actor has never opened a film on his own and instead has taken sidekick roles next to more established box office titans like Will Smith in Hitch and Adam Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Blart’s three-day debut of $31.8M actually beat out the openings of recent films from both of those stars. Smith’s Seven Pounds bowed to just $14.9M while Sandler’s Bedtime Stories debuted to $27.5M. James attracted mostly negative reviews which meant nothing to moviegoers looking just for 90 minutes of mindless fun.
Budgeted at only $26M, the film should turn out to be a nice little moneymaker for Sony and Sandler whose company Happy Madison produced. Exit polls showed that males and females were evenly represented while those under 25 made up 56% of the crowd. Friday saw a solid start with a stellar $9.8M while Saturday jumped a healthy 35% to $13.2M with family audiences making the trip out. Blart also registered the third largest January opening ever.
Clint Eastwood held his own against the $110M of business stolen away by the four new releases this long weekend. His Gran Torino dropped to the runnerup spot in its second weekend of wide release pulling in an estimated $26.2M. The three-day portion fell just 25%. Warner Bros. is enjoying the same strong legs that most of Eastwood’s films have since the Oscar-winner’s older-skewing fan base usually comes out over time and not upfront in the first weekend. With $77.2M already in the tank, Torino could soar to $140M or more by the end of its lucrative run.
The battle for third place was tight but over the four-day Friday-to-Monday period, the horror film My Bloody Valentine 3D eked out the victory. The Lionsgate terrorfest bowed to an estimated $24.2M from 2,534 theaters for a terrific $9,569 average. It was the widest debut ever for a 3D film with 1,033 (41%) of those locations featuring the digital 3D presentation. The extra $2-3 per ticket that exhibitors charged for the new technology also helped to pump up the grosses. The three-day period saw $21.3M in sales. Valentine showed how strong demand is for an interesting horror film at the beginning of the year as it followed the strong $19.8M debut of last weekend’s PG-13 supernatural thriller The Unborn. Critics were surprisingly upbeat for Valentine. This was that rare weekend when the best reviewed new release was a gory horror flick.
Close behind in fourth place, but with the heaviest average of the weekend, was the biopic Notorious which grossed an estimated $24M from only 1,638 theaters. Averaging a sizzling $14,652, the R-rated story of the slain rap superstar gave Fox Searchlight the biggest debut in company history. It was also the best opening weekend average for a wide release since November’s Twilight. The three-day bow was $20.5M. Reviews were mixed for Notorious which attracted the multicultural fans of the late music star. Searchlight’s choice of release date was no coincidence as it knew that a film about a popular African American entertainer would sell opening over Martin Luther King weekend, and just days before the Obama Inauguration.
Kids and tweens lined up for the comedy Hotel for Dogs which debuted in fifth place with $17M over three days and $22.5M over the long holiday frame. The PG-rated Paramount release averaged a respectable $6,879 over four days from 3,271 locations.
A pair of sophomore titles followed. The wedding comedy Bride Wars fell to an estimated $14M pushing its 11-day total to $39.9M. Budgeted at $30M, the Kate Hudson-Anne Hathaway pic should go on to gross about $65M for Fox. Universal’s hit thriller The Unborn scared up an estimated $11M for a cume of $34.2M in 11 days. With a low $16M price tag, the PG-13 fright flick looks to reach $50M.
Paramount Vantage went nationwide with its Holocaust drama Defiance and ended up at number eight with a respectable four-day estimate of $10.7M. The Daniel Craig pic averaged a moderate $5,981 from 1,789 sites and has taken in $11M since its platform debut on New Year’s Eve. Two-time box office king Marley & Me followed in ninth with an estimated $7.5M. The Fox overachiever raised its impressive total to $133.9M making it the top-grossing film of Jennifer Aniston’s career when in a lead role.
A sweep of last Sunday’s Golden Globes helped make Jamal Malik a richer kid. Slumdog Millionaire, winner of Best Picture – Drama and three other trophies, lost 19 theaters but saw sales surge to an estimated $7.2M leading to a potent $12,285 average from 582 locations. The three-day tally of $5.8M soared 54%. Fox Searchlight has already taken in $44M and will expand the indie hit nationwide to about 1,300 runs this Friday, a day after Academy Award nominations are announced. Slumdog jumped up a spot to number one in the United Kingdom this weekend and will open in India on Friday.
Other films winning Globe statues also saw their grosses rise. Searchlight’s The Wrestler which took home two awards for Best Actor – Drama for Mickey Rourke and Best Song for Bruce Springsteen more than doubled its take to an estimated $2.1M. The film also expanded by 84 theaters and averaged a sturdy $14,410 from 144 sites. Kate Winslet’s Revolutionary Road, which won her a Best Actress – Drama prize, grossed an estimated $2.2M, up 24% over the three-day portion. The Paramount Vantage release averaged a solid $12,614 per location over four days from 171 playdates and will expand nationwide this Friday into 800 venues. Totals stand at $5.4M and $6.1M, respectively.
Those snubbed by the Hollywood Foreign Press suffered declines this weekend. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button dropped 40% (over the three-day portion) to an estimated $6.6M for Paramount lifting the total to $103.6M. The Meryl Streep pic Doubt fell 51% to an estimated $1.5M giving Miramax $25.5M to date. Declining 41% was Sean Penn’s Milk with an estimated $921,000 and a $20.5M cume. Frost/Nixon slid by 26% to an estimated $789,000 putting the sum at $8.7M for Universal. A Best Picture nod from the Academy this week could revive any of these films in the weeks ahead.
Elsewhere below the top ten, Overture expanded its Dustin Hoffman-Emma Thompson comedy Last Chance Harvey from 16 to 1,054 theaters nationwide and posted an estimated $5.1M, a decent bow in a crowded marketplace. Averaging $4,858, the PG-13 title has collected $5.7M since its limited debut in late December. Warner Bros. released its first Bollywood film with Chandni Chowk to China and grossed an estimated $700,000 from 130 theaters for a respectable $5,385 average.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $186.3M over four days which was up an impressive 23% from last year when Cloverfield opened in the top spot with $46.1M; and up a stunning 69% from 2006’s MLK frame when Stomp the Yard debuted at number one with $25.9M.
Compared to projections, the four new releases all soared higher than my three-day forecasts of $11M for Paul Blart: Mall Cop, $17M for My Bloody Valentine 3D, $13M for Notorious, and $14M for Hotel for Dogs.
Clint Eastwood scored the biggest wide opening of his career with his latest effort Gran Torino which raced past the competition in its first weekend of national play to swipe the number one spot. However, the frame’s other new films all performed well too as the North American box office remained red hot. The wedding comedy Bride Wars debuted impressively in the bridesmaid slot while the horror flick The Unborn was close behind with a third place bow. Even the more narrow opening of the marital drama Not Easily Broken generated a sensational average. Studios released their first batch of new films since Christmas Day and audiences responded by filling up multiplexes powering the Top 20 films 15% ahead of last year.to $143M.
Following four weeks of amazing grosses in limited release, Gran Torino expanded from 84 to 2,808 theaters and collected an estimated $29M. Averaging a muscular $10,337, the R-rated pic about a grumpy old man and his community of Hmong immigrants gave the two-time Oscar winning director the best opening of his half-century career easily beating the $18.1M of 2000’s Space Cowboys, also a directorial and starring effort for Eastwood. That debut at today’s ticket prices would be roughly $24M which Torino still beat.
Warner Bros. has successfully used this release strategy before when targeting older adults at this time of year. Last winter, the studio opened the Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman film The Bucket List in 16 theaters on Christmas Day before expanding it wide this very weekend last January. It also shot straight to the top of the chart and grossed $19.4M for a $6,662 average. Four years ago, Warners platformed Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby into just eight locations in mid-December and slowly added more locations before going nationwide in its seventh weekend following the announcement of Oscar nominations. It took in $12.3M in its first wide frame and averaged $6,102. Gran Torino easily outmuscled both of those films.
What makes this weekend’s gross especially impressive is the fact that Torino has not been one of the top films getting all the awards buzz this winter. The studio has spent heavily on television advertising in major markets for over a month now to keep the film in the minds of moviegoers and is seeing the investment pay off. With a $40.1M cume, Gran Torino should have no problem soaring past the $100M mark to become one of Eastwood’s most popular films. His other big earners include Baby with $100.4M (about $115M at today’s prices), 1992’s Unforgiven with $101.2M ($173M today), and 1993’s In the Line of Fire with $102.3M ($175M today). Clint pics have historically had strong legs.
The wedding comedy Bride Wars opened in second place pulling in an estimated $21.5M for Fox. Starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway as best friends whose weddings get scheduled on the same day, the PG-rated pic averaged a solid $6,665 from 3,226 playdates. It was the widest of the four new films opening or expanding into wide release this weekend. Bride skewed heavily female as women made up a sizable 80% of the audience. The film played to a broad age group though as 52% of the crowd was under 25. Studios often release female-skewing films in January since the football playoffs make males harder to reach.
Fox generated an opening similar to the one it enjoyed last January with another wedding-related comedy. 27 Dresses starring Katherine Heigl bowed to $23M and a $7,526 average over the three-day portion of the Martin Luther King holiday frame in 2008 on its way to $76.8M. Reviews for the $30M-budgeted Bride Wars were poor, but ticket buyers instead responded to the starpower, premise, and comedy.
Universal’s supernatural thriller The Unborn was an overachiever this weekend surging past expectations to score a $21.1M opening, according to estimates. Creeping into 2,357 theaters, the PG-13 fright flick scared up a superb $8,950 average. The debut was on par with producer Rogue Pictures’ horror hit from last summer The Strangers which also exceeded pre-release forecasts during its launch which resulted in a $21M weekend and $8,515 average. Rogue was just purchased by Relativity Media.
Unborn benefitted from being the first horror film of the new year so competition was minimal. Past terrorfests that found success in early January include 2006’s Hostel which debuted to $19.6M and the prior year’s White Noise which bowed to $24.1M. A slick and creepy marketing campaign plus a marketplace filled with old leftovers gave fans a reason to come out and see something new and scary. Teens and young adults made up the bulk of the audience with 75% of the crowd being under 25. Females made up 55%. Unborn kicked off a new year’s feast for horror fans who will soon be attacked by My Bloody Valentine 3D next weekend, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans on the following weekend, The Uninvited on the frame after that, and a new Friday the 13th next month on Friday the 13th.
Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, and the 22 dogs that played the title character of Marley & Me dropped to fourth after two weeks on top and grossed an estimated $11.4M. Down a steep 53%, the Fox release upped its total to $123.7M putting it at number 17 on the list of top-grossing releases from 2008. Brad Pitt was one step behind at number five with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which collected an estimated $9.5M, off 49%, for a $94.3M cume for Paramount.
Tumbling 58% was Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories which took in $8.6M for Disney, according to estimates, raising the sum to $97.2M. Operation Valkyrie was in effect at number seven with an estimated $6.7M, down 53%, lifting the cume for Tom Cruise and his eyepatch to $71.5M. Yet another star-driven film, Jim Carrey’s comedy Yes Man, followed with an estimated $6.2M, dropping 56%. Total for Warner Bros. is now $89.4M.
Sony released the marital faith-based drama Not Easily Broken on a small scale but was met with solid results in ninth place. The PG-13 film grossed an estimated $5.6M from only 724 theaters for a terrific $7,735 average. Budgeted at just $5M, Broken played to an audience of mature women. Females made up 70% of the crowd while 69% was over the age of 30. The Morris Chestnut starrer is an adaptation of the book of the same name by pastor and author T.D. Jakes who has built up a loyal following in the African American community over the years.
Rounding out the top ten was Will Smith’s odd drama Seven Pounds which crumbled by 61% to an estimated $3.9M for a cume of $66.8M for Sony. The jellyfish flick will end the superstar’s streak of eight consecutive $100M+ blockbusters which began back in 2002.
Numerous Golden Globe contenders in the Drama categories continued to tout their nominations in their advertising in hopes of luring in more audiences. Best Picture nominee Slumdog Millionaire was number 11 for the weekend with an estimated $3.7M, off 21%, for a total of $34.1M for Fox Searchlight. Miramax’s Doubt which scored four acting nominations including Best Actress for Meryl Streep fell a troubling 50% to an estimated $2.5M lifting the sum to $22.9M.
The Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet pic Revolutionary Road, a nominee for Best Picture, expanded from 38 to 135 sites and grossed an estimated $1.4M for a solid $10,667 average. Paramount Vantage has taken in $3.2M to date. Winslet’s other offering during awards season The Reader dipped 15% to an estimated $1.4M as well pushing the cume to $5.5M for The Weinstein Co.
Focus dropped 34% with its film Milk which collected an estimated $1.3M. Starring Best Actor nominee Sean Penn, the gay rights pic upped its total to $19.1M. Fox Searchlight expanded The Wrestler starring rival Best Actor nominee Mickey Rourke from 18 to 60 sites. The New Jersey-set tale took in an estimated $874,000 for a strong $14,567 average putting the sum at $2.8M. Frank Langella is also up for the Actor prize with his film Frost/Nixon which dropped 35% to an estimated $912,000 for a $7.7M cume.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $123.3M which was up a healthy 25% from last year when The Bucket List expanded wide into the top spot with $19.4M; and up a superb 36% from 2006 when Stomp the Yard opened at number one with $21.8M.
This week at the movies, we’ve got a bridal battle (Bride Wars, starring Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson); a cranky car enthusiast (Gran Torino, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood); mystic monsters (The Unborn, starring Odette Yustman and Gary Oldman); and marital mishaps (Not Easily Broken, starring Taraji P. Henson and Morris Chestnut). What do the critics have to say?
The stress of an upcoming wedding can drive even the most levelheaded people crazy. And, though they haven’t been tasked with hiring a band or picking out a caterer, critics have also been provoked to bouts of insanity by Bride Wars. The film stars Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson as a pair of BFFs who discover they’ve scheduled their weddings for the same date; cattiness and sabotage ensue. The pundits say that this nominal satire studiously avoids taking anything but limp jabs at our wedding-obsessed culture; worse, the usually-winning leads are saddled with characters that aren’t particularly likable — or smart. At four percent on the Tomatometer, Bride Wars seems destined for cinematic annulment.
“Listen, I think you’re cool and all, but I’d like it if you moved out of my dress.”
As an actor and director, Clint Eastwood’s august years have proven to be as fertile as any point in his career — and the critics say his latest, ahem, vehicle, Gran Torino, is no exception. Eastwood stars as a curmudgeonly, racist Korean War vet whose life changes when an Asian-American boy from the neighborhood attempts to steal his prized Gran Torino. The two form an unlikely bond — and Clint finds himself protecting the boy’s family from neighborhood toughs. The pundits say Gran Torino is heartfelt, funny, and smart, featuring a sly, self-deprecating performance from one of America’s most iconic actors. Certified Fresh at 74 percent on the Tomatometer, Gran Torino is worth a spin. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we celebrate some of cinema’s stodgiest curmudgeons.)
“All things considered, I guess I do feel lucky. Do you, punk?”
Nothing spices up a horror flick like some good old time religion, right? Unfortunately, critics say The Unborn‘s blend of Jewish mysticism and horror tropes is bedeviled by overplotting. Odette Yustman stars as Casey, a young woman with a traumatic family history who’s haunted by a demonic spirit – one that traverses the nebulous world between the living and the dead and searches for a body to inhabit. Director David S. Goyer certainly knows his way around a good script — heck, the man penned Dark City and Batman Begins — but critics say The Unborn is a convoluted ghost yarn that borrows liberally from The Exorcist and confounds more that frightens. At 13 percent on the Tomatometer, audiences might want to abstain from The Unborn. (Click here for our interview with Goyer, in which he discusses his five favorite films.)
“Don’t stop/ believin’/ Hold on to that feeeeeeling!”
Good intentions don’t necessarily make for compelling cinema. Case in point: Not Easily Broken, which critics say contains an unimpeachable message about familial responsibility, but is hampered by its sermonizing tone. Based on a novel by Bishop T.D. Jakes, Not Easily Broken stars Taraji P. Henson and Morris Chestnut as Clarice and Dave, a married couple with some serious problems. Clarice’s status as the breadwinner threatens Dave’s self-image, but when tragedy strikes, Dave learns to be a better man — with plenty assist from the Man upstairs. The pundits say Not Easily Broken is sincere and well-acted but essentially generic, featuring melodramatic plotting and an intrusive voiceover. At 20 percent on the Tomatometer, this may Not be your top choice this weekend.
“I’m not moving until the Pirates make the playoffs.”
Also opening this week in limited release:
Silent Light, Carlos Reygadas’ examination of faith and love in a Mennonite community, is at 80 percent.
The Danish import Just Another Love Story, a neo-noir with twists, turns, mistaken identity, infidelity, and amnesia, is at 80 percent.
Yonkers Joe, starring Chazz Palminteri as an aging gambler who’s looking for one last score while facing up to parental responsibility, is at 50 percent.
Recent Anne Hathaway Movies:
Fathers and daughters will duke it out at the box office as two films appealing to opposite demographics open wide on Friday gunning for the number one spot. Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway could have the edge with their new comedy Bride Wars which will skew towards young females while Clint Eastwood‘s latest effort Gran Torino will target older men as it jumps from a hugely successful limited run into a nationwide opening. Adding to the mix will be the launches of the supernatural thriller The Unborn and the marital drama Not Easily Broken.
Wedding comedies always sell so Fox may just end up replacing itself in the number one spot with its new offering Bride Wars which follows the studio’s two-week reign with Marley & Me. Hudson and Hathaway star as best friends whose dream weddings end up being scheduled on the same day due to a clerical error. Though it carries a PG rating, this is no kiddie flick. The audience will consist of teenage girls plus young and even older women. Three or four males are expected to show up too. Hudson makes her producing debut here and a top spot bow could mean that she knows how to put together a project that mainstream movie fans will pay to see.
Bride Wars has hit written all over it. The film packs plenty of starpower (Candice Bergen co-stars in her usual elder stateswoman role), the concept is compelling, the commercials are funny, the title is catchy, and the wedding comedy genre in general is bankable. Plus people enjoy an adversarial comedy when both warring characters are played by big stars. Expect every woman getting married this summer to show up for this one. Last year, female-skewing comedies included 27 Dresses which bowed to $23M, Baby Mama which opened to $17.4M, and Made of Honor which debuted with $14.8M. Bride Wars rolls into 3,224 theaters and should fall into the high end of that range with $21M this weekend.
Expanding nationally from 84 to 2,808 theaters on Friday is Clint Eastwood’s directorial and starring project Gran Torino which has posted red hot averages over the past four weeks. The Warner Bros. release debuted to a $45,287 average from just six venues and followed that up with muscular averages of $24,643, $27,652, and $34,957 in subsequent frames. It’s been in the Top 20 every weekend. Rarely do films see their averages rise as they get older so support is truly strong for Torino despite the fact that the film has not been among the top three or five films with the most awards buzz this winter. One factor which always hurts male-skewing films in the first month of the year will be NFL playoff games on both Saturday and Sunday that will keep millions of men away from theaters.
The Oscar-winning filmmaker still sells at the box office and older adults have been the driving force. Warners used this very weekend a year ago to expand the Jack Nicholson–Morgan Freeman pic The Bucket List and was rewarded with a top spot debut with $19.4M from 2,911 sites and a sturdy $6,662 average. Gran Torino will play to much of the same audience in a similar number of theaters and could gross around $18M this weekend.
Could the writer of 2008’s biggest blockbuster now be delivering the worst film of 2009? Horror fans will get to decide this over the weekend after they see The Unborn, a supernatural thriller from writer/director David S. Goyer and producer Michael Bay. The PG-13 tale of a young woman haunted by a creepy spirit will target teens and young adults looking for a scare. Declines in future weeks will be massive, but opening weekend sales look to be decent. Universal’s marketing materials have been slick and scary which should effectively lure in teens in the short-term.
January has been a great month for horror film openings since the cheery Christmas season ends and darker material can work its way back into the multiplexes. Plus a large portion of college students are still on break and are eager to see something. Some of the more successful January fright flick bows in recent years include $24.1M for White Noise, $22M for Hide and Seek, $19.6M for Hostel, and $12.5M for One Missed Call. The Unborn has a friendly rating that will allow teenagers in and competition will not be much since no other horror pictures are in the top ten. Entering 2,356 theaters, The Unborn might debut with roughly $11M.
Morris Chestnut takes a page from Kate Hudson’s book by starring in and producing (executive style) Not Easily Broken. Adapted from the popular book, the PG-13 film co-stars Taraji P. Henson and tells of a couple whose marriage is put to the test after a car crash leaves the wife seriously injured. African American women will make up the biggest segment of the audience and competition for that crowd is not very fierce right now. The faith-based elements in the story will probably lure the churchgoing audience too. But starpower is not high and the marketing push has only been focusing on the target audience so mass appeal is not likely. Plus Sony is not opening it very wide either. Debuting in roughly 600 locations, Not Easily Broken could take in about $3M this weekend.
Following two weeks of box office rule, Marley & Me is set to fall down a couple of notches this weekend. No new kidpics open, but Fox’s new bridal flick will take away some Jennifer Aniston fans. A 40% decline could result giving the dog drama $14.5M for the weekend and a cume of $127M after 18 days. Rival PG-rated Christmas pic Bedtime Stories held up better in its second frame so a slightly smaller drop may occur. A 35% fall to $13M would push the total for the Adam Sandler title to $102M.
Brad Pitt‘s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has been a close second each day this week behind the wacky pooch. Competition will come from both Bride Wars for females and Gran Torino for older adults looking for serious awards fare. Button should drop by 35% to about $12M and raise its tally to $96M. Pitt’s vampire buddy Tom Cruise looks to see a larger decline for Valkyrie which may slide by 45% to around $8M. MGM’s cume would climb to $72M.
LAST YEAR: Geezer gold led the way as The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman expanded nationally and took the top spot with $19.4M on its way to $93.5M for Warner Bros. Second place went to the new Ice Cube pic First Sunday which bowed to $17.7M for Sony on its way to $37.9M. Holdovers rounded out the top five with Juno grossing $13.6M, three-time chart champ National Treasure: Book of Secrets taking in $11.3M, and Alvin and the Chipmunks dropping to fifth with $9.3M. The weekend’s two other new releases failed to generate much heat. Universal’s animated kidpic The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything debuted with just $4.3M while the actioner In the Name of the King tanked with a $3M launch which was good enough for 14th place for Freestyle. Final grosses reached $12.7M and $4.8M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com