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Top Ten Box Office Takeaways: 'No Good Deed' Tops Weak Field, 'The Drop' Scores, 'The Giver' Soars

12 hours ago

The Top Ten box office holds many surprises, from top-dog "No Good Deed," starring Idris Elba and weak family sequel "Dolphin Tale 2" to festival entry "The Drop" landing at number six. And The Weinstein Co.'s dystopian Ya adaptation "The Giver" has unexpectedly become its best-grosser in over a year.  Unfortunately, the results continue to show a sizable decrease from the same weekend last year. The good news: initial strong international numbers this weekend for "The Maze" --which opens next week in the U.S.-- promise a much-needed turnaround ahead. The Top Ten 1. No Good Deed (Sony) New - Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 27; Est. production budget: $13 million $24,500,000 in 2,175 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $11,264; Cumulative: $24,500,000 2. Dolphin Tale 2 (Warner Bros.) New - Cinemascore: A; Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 59; Estimated production budget: $36 million; $16,550,000 in 3,656 »


- Tom Brueggemann

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'The Imitation Game' Takes the Toronto People's Choice Award, Forerunner to Oscars (Interview Video)

15 hours ago

The audience award-winner at the Toronto International Film Festival is often the best Picture Oscar winner as well. This year, "The Imitation Game" won the People's Choice Award won last year by "12 Years a Slave," and in prior years by several films directed by Brits, "The King's Speech," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "American Beauty."  (Other Tiff audience winners such as "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Precious" go on to win Oscars other than best Picture.)  Very British "The Imitation Game" is directed by Norwegian Morten Tyldum ("Headhunters") and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as genius World War II code-cracker Alan Turing, who gets help from mathematicians played by Keira Knightley (indiewire interview here) and Matthew Goode. Oscar-savvy Weinstein Co. is backing the moving period drama, which opens November 21. Other awards this year are unlikely to have much impact »


- Anne Thompson

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'Skeleton Twins' Scores Best Limited Opening since 'Boyhood'

15 hours ago

The fall season began in earnest this weekend as several top festival films opened well. Fox Searchlight's tough guy thriller "The Drop," starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, landed in sixth place in the Top Ten, opening in over 800 theaters for an excellent gross of $4.2 million. The clear standout among the specialty films, "The Skeleton Twins" delivered the best limited initial showing since "Boyhood."  Both "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" (combined version "Them") and Kevin Klein and Maggie Smith vehicle "My Old Lady" opened well as the adult season finally gets under way. "Boyhood" continues to dominate the summer specialty openers, but four summer releases are still grossing $380,000 or better deep into their run. Such robust takes show that the core older art-house audience is the most reliable demographic these »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Dan Stevens Left 'Downton Abbey' to Make a Rash of Movies: Two Hit Screens This Month

18 hours ago

Every actor dreams of that breakout moment when a particular role allows the big world to see what you can do. Brit actor Dan Stevens, 31, is taking full advantage of that window of opportunity. After ten years of British stage and television, he landed the dishy romantic leading man role of Matthew Crowley in TV series "Downton Abbey." And after seeing through his initial three-season commitment, Stevens cut and run. He had a career to catch. Now he not only has two films on display at the Toronto International Film Festival, Adam Wingard's "The Guest" (September 17) and Tom McCarthy's acquisition title "The Cobbler," but another opening in theaters September 19, Scott Frank's "A Walk Among Tombstones." "It was a big decision," he admits in a phone interview. "I didn't know what was going to happen after January 2012. We hadn't finished shooting the first episode, and the end seemed a long way off. »


- Anne Thompson

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A New Film Finally Takes Lead Over 'Guardians' at Friday Box Office

13 September 2014 10:23 AM, PDT

For the first time since July, a film other than "Guardians of the Galaxy" or "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is going to be number one for the weekend. The top positions for yesterday went to two new films, with Sony's "No Good Deed" surprising observers by not only taking the lead yesterday, but more than doubling "Dolphin Tale 2" (Warner Bros.). The African-American-cast home invasion thriller took in $8.8 million for the day, compared to just under $4.3 million for the family-oriented fish sequel. The latter will thrive with matinees, but still come in a disappointing second and fall short of its predecessor (which grossed $5.1 its opening day). But two new films barely made a dent in the resumed free fall in overall grosses. The Top Ten yesterday totaled $22 million, down $13 million for the same Friday last year when FilmDistrict's "Insidious 2" alone grossed $20 million. The email this morning from Sony opened with. »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Best of the Week: Tiff Wrap, Oscar Updates, 'Imitation Game' vs. 'Theory of Everything' & More

13 September 2014 7:00 AM, PDT

The top stories of the week from Toh! Awards: Eight Reasons Why 'The Imitation Game' and 'The Theory of Everything' Are Oscar Rivals Golden Lion: ‘Pigeon’ Airs It Out in Venice, ‘Birdman’ Left Standing On a Branch Reflecting 'Homesman' Star Hilary Swank Stands Tall Amid Weak Best Actress Oscar Race Julianne Moore Is Back in the Oscar Game Oscar Watch: Three Movies Will Dominate the Crafts Awards Updated: Foreign Language Oscar Contenders Box Office: Arthouse Audit: Documentary Dominates New Films, 'Boyhood' Tops $20 Million Why This Weekend's Box Office Ranks with the Worst Ever Tiff: The Best Documentaries at Toronto So Far Brit Marling Fights for Strong Roles in Movies like Tiff Civil War Drama 'The Keeping Room' David Ansen's Top Discoveries from Toronto 2014 Lovers Turned Filmmakers Look Closely at Themselves in 'Meet Me in Montenegro' Peter Strickland's 'Duke of Burgundy' Pushes Buttons in Toronto Screen Talk: What Happened at. »


- TOH!

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Julianne Moore Is Back in the Oscar Game

12 September 2014 12:09 PM, PDT

Focus World's abrupt 2015 placement of Cronenberg's "Maps to the Stars" isn't keeping Cannes Best Actress winner Julianne Moore out of the Oscar game. She's back in the races with "Still Alice," Sony Pictures Classics' first Tiff buy and an awards usher for Moore, who plays a professor beset by early onset Alzheimer's.  "Still Alice" reunites writer-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland ("The Last of Robin Hood") and it costars Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish and Kristen Stewart, for whom word is also strong.  Moore has been nominated for four Academy Awards for "Boogie Nights," "The End of the Affair," and both "The Hours" and "Far From Heaven" in 2003. In a not-so-competitive year entrance into the race is easier. She is ready to win her first Oscar. Spc plans an awards season release for "Still Alice." Reviews, and clip, below. Critics say this is a »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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8 Restored Images From the Criterion Release of David Lynch's 'Eraserhead'

12 September 2014 11:13 AM, PDT

At last, on Tuesday September 16, David Lynch's iconic artifact of the unconscious "Eraserhead" -- long in the Janus Films archives -- gets the Criterion Collection Blu-ray treatment. Accompanying the 1977 classic will be Lynch's eerie short films "Six Men Getting Sick" (above), "The Alphabet," "The Grandmother," "Premonitions Following an Evil Deed" -- a Lynchian title if there ever was one -- and more. Here are eight spooky images from the newly burnished shorts, all presented in new transfers and of course supervised by Lynch himself, who was closely involved in the vibrant Blu-ray restoration of "Blue Velvet." Will we ever see "Mulholland Dr" on Blu-ray in the Us? "Inland Empire"? "Lost Highway"? Various region-free versions float the Amazon Marketplace, but Criterion has teased a possible "Mulholland" Blu-ray in the past. We shall see. You can watch the shorts on Hulu here, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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David Ansen's Top Discoveries from Toronto 2014

12 September 2014 10:53 AM, PDT

There was much to-do about Toronto's newly aggressive “them or us” policy concerning the Telluride Film Festival.  If you premiere in Colorado, they warned the studios, you won’t get an opening weekend slot in Toronto.  I’m not sure what Toronto gained by this supposedly hardball stance (if they really wanted to play rough, they would have excluded Telluride selections entirely) but it confirmed the growing suspicion that the Toronto Film Festival was more than happy to be viewed as the exhibition games of the annual Oscar race.    The U.S. press, of course, plays a huge role in this perception, choosing to focus its festival coverage on Academy handicapping, ignoring the fact that the majority of Toronto’s 287 feature film lineup will play no part in awards season frenzy, and that film festivals are (or should be) about offering audiences alternatives to mass-marketed mainstream fare.  With foreign film distribution at low ebb, »

- David Ansen

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Toronto: RADiUS Buys Nick Kroll's Comedy 'Adult Beginners'

12 September 2014 10:14 AM, PDT

Weinstein arm RADiUS has nabbed Us rights to buzzed-about Toronto title "Adult Beginners," with a dreamy cast including Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Joel McHale, Josh Charles and of course Nick Kroll in the lead. This is Oscar-nominated producer Ross Katz's ("Lost In Translation") feature directorial debut. Slated for a Spring 2015 release, the film centers on a young, self-obsessed entrepreneur (Kroll) who hits rock bottom on the eve of his company's launch. He ups and moves out of Manhattan, and in with his estranged sister (Byrne), her husband (Cannavale) and 3-year-old kid in the suburbs. And he becomes their nanny. Based on a story originated by Nick Kroll, "Adult Beginners" was written by Jeff Cox and Elizabeth Flahive and was produced by Sam Slater and Paul Bernon of Burn Later Productions, Marcus Cox and Karrie Cox of Through Films, Nick Kroll of Good at Bizness, Inc, Jared Ian Goldman and executive produced by Mark Duplass, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Oscar Watch: Three Movies Will Dominate the Crafts Awards

12 September 2014 8:26 AM, PDT

The crafts buzz has already started with Emmanuel (Chivo) Lubezki's extraordinary "continuous take" in Alejandro Iñárritu's "Birdman." Will the experimental cinematographer snag his second Academy Award in a row after "Gravity"? Or will 11-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins (just as digitally cutting edge) finally win his elusive prize for "Unbroken," the epic biopic directed by Angelina Jolie about the late Olympian war hero Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell)? That's probably the biggest mini-drama that will play out in this year's below-the-line awards competition. But look for the three highest-profile epics to dominate: "Unbroken, "Interstellar," and "Into the Woods." For "Birdman," which has already conquered critics and journos at Venice and Telluride, Lubezki achieves another primal, "continuous life experience" in portraying the bold reinvention gamble by Michael »


- Bill Desowitz

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Screen Talk: What Happened at Toronto? Hits, Misses, Oscar Contenders

12 September 2014 8:10 AM, PDT

For the first time, Indiewire critic Eric Kohn and I got together in person to record Screen Talk, to share our experience at the Toronto International Film Festival. We argue the merits and demerits of  many of the upcoming fall films and Oscar contenders such as "The Imitation Game" and "The Theory of Everything"--and inevitably, we didn't see the same movies. Check out the podcast below or on iTunes. »


- Anne Thompson

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Peter Strickland's Lurid S&M Fantasia 'Duke of Burgundy' Pushes Buttons in Toronto

11 September 2014 2:12 PM, PDT

Director Peter Strickland has confounded critics and audiences with his Toronto premiere “The Duke of Burgundy.” Fans of his 2012 giallo throwback, “Berberian Sound Studio,” may not be fully prepared for the director’s newest offering: an homage to vintage erotica. “The Duke of Burgundy” offers a stylized presentation of S&M focused on the relationship of wealthy lepidopterist Cynthia and her housekeeper Evelyn -- in other words, employer and employee, slave and master. Few other figures inhabit the film, other than artful butterflies displayed in close-up. Critics, mystified by the all-female cast, suggest that Strickland is challenging sexual desire and politics, but only as they apply to the viewer’s comfort level, playing with his audience in a way that recalls a line from the original master of the lewd: “The lady doth protest too much.” Here’s a round-up of some very telling reviews. Release date from IFC Midnight forthcoming. »


- Elaina Patton

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Watch: New York Film Festival Trailer

11 September 2014 12:29 PM, PDT

The New York Film Festival is right around the bend. Below, watch the trailer for its 52nd iteration before "Gone Girl" opens the fest on September 26. It's sort of a "Where's Waldo?" for the big Fall releases—you can eye glimpses of "Inherent Vice," "Gone Girl," "Maps to the Stars," "Birdman," "Clouds of Sils Maria," "Pasolini," "Mr. Turner" and more. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Toronto: RADiUS-twc Grabs Chris Evans' Directorial Debut 'Before We Go'

11 September 2014 11:30 AM, PDT

Weinstein boutique arm RADiUS-twc has picked up Us rights to "Before We Go," "Snowpiercer" star Chris Evans' directorial debut, at Tiff. Starring Evans and Alice Eve (of "Star Trek Into Darkness"), the film follows two strangers stuck overnight in New York City whose casual acquaintance grows into something deeper a la "Before Sunrise." "Before We Go" was produced by Evans, Mark Kassen, McG, Mary Viola, Karen Baldwin, Howard Baldwin and William J. Immerman.  The executive producers are Peter Pastorelli, James McGough and Ron Bass - the latter of whom also wrote the screenplay with Jen Smolka, Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair. RADiUS, which also handled "Snowpiercer" and has tapped something of an indie star in Evans, is eyeing a second quarter 2015 release. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Updated: Foreign Language Oscar Contenders

11 September 2014 10:54 AM, PDT

Update: Mexico has, of course, selected its recent Us box office hit "Cantinflas" -- about famed comic actor Mario Moreno -- for Foreign Oscar contention. Ukraine has submitted "The Guide," to the chagrin of "The Tribe" director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, who feels his film better represents the nation. He also claims that three members of "The Guide"'s production team were involved in the nomination. More on that controversy here. Earlier: More foreign language contenders have rolled in -- from Croatia, Bulgaria and Taiwan. See full list below.  Japan has launched "The Light Shines Only There," from director Mipo Oh, into the Foreign Language Oscar race. Japan won the foreign Oscar in 2009 with "Departures" and is eyeing the prize once again. More on "The Light" here. Georgia, meanwhile, has submitted the almost-wordless Karlovy Vary favorite "Corn Island." It's directed by Giorgi »


- TOH!

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Toronto: 'Labyrinth of Lies' Acquired by Sony Pictures Classics

11 September 2014 10:42 AM, PDT

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American rights to Giulio Ricciarelli's directorial debut "Labyrinth of Lies," based on the true story of a Nazi coverup during WWII, ahead of the film's Tiff premiere on Friday. Synopsis: The economic miracle is changing the life of Germans in post-war Germany 20 years later. Most of them are sick of the war and prefer to push their guilt to the back of their mind. When a journalist (André Szymanski) identifies a teacher in the playground as a former guard from Auschwitz, no one wants to take notice. But a young prosecutor (Alexander Fehling) takes on the case and can‘t even be stopped by his boss. During his research he realizes that some Germans claim that they never heard the expression “Auschwitz,“ while others try to forget about it. As the resolute prosecutor doesn‘t give up, the Attorney General Fritz Bauer (Gert Voss »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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The Best Documentaries at Toronto So Far

11 September 2014 10:10 AM, PDT

One of the more purely entertaining docs at Tiff this year was “Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films,” partly because it featured nudity, sex and break-dancing. But among the points it makes is that the shameless cheese factory that was Cannon consistently made movies that were shadows of other movies. Chuck Norris’ “Missing in Action” recalled Sylvester Stallone’s “Rambo”; “King Solomon’s Mines” wanted to be “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” “Death Wish II” and III, and IV, were dying to be “Death Wish," etc., etc. The 2014 Tiff documentaries, for all their socially progressive virtues and occasionally virtuosic flourishes, echoed other movies, too – unavoidably, in some instances. There are only so many ways you can go with a certain topic; and if you’re selling ideas, style often gets in the way. While all docs are, with any luck, about ideas, some require a filmmaker to »


- John Anderson

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'Ida' Director Pawel Pawlikowski Answers 10 Questions

11 September 2014 6:30 AM, PDT

Director Pawel Pawlikowski's "Ida" is devastating, and he knows it. Set in Poland 1962, when the British-trained Pawlikowski was a little boy, this dreamlike road movie follows a convent-raised orphan girl named Anna who is told that her birth name is Ida Lebenstein, and that her parents were Jewish and murdered in the war. The courier of this shocking news is Ida's caustic, free-spirited aunt Wanda who resents her niece's innocence but takes the girl under her wing anyway to uncover the dark reality of her family's past in the Polish pastoral. "Ida" played the festival circuit up and down between last year and 2014, sweeping accolades and acclaim along the way. It collected nearly $4 million at the Us box office, outmatching its take in France where the film was deemed a hit. Now this exquisitely compact, wrenching hark-back to arthouse yesteryear is Poland's official submission to the 2015 Academy Awards. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Sony Pictures Classics Founders to Receive French Legion of Honor

11 September 2014 4:30 AM, PDT

Sony Pictures Classics is having a banner year. Cofounders and co-presidents Michael Barker and Mr. Tom Bernard, who are also major pioneers of French cinema, will receive France's highest honor -- the Legion of Honor -- in a triple ceremony on September 22 in New York.  Spc has impressed this year with a terrific slate of films that have not only reached audiences in Cannes, Telluride and Toronto, but are en route to release and likely Oscar contention. Highlights include Cannes Best Actor winner "Mr. Turner," Best Director winner "Foxcatcher" -- which wowed Telluride and Toronto and will be up for Academy Awards -- the hockey documentary "Red Army," likely Argentine Oscar submission "Wild Tales" and Cannes fave and likely Russian submission "Leviathan." Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius will award Bernard and Barker the honors. Fabius stated, “These »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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