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Like the rest of the summer, it’s a mixed bag.
Buddy comedy “Central Intelligence” enjoyed a strong second weekend, and low-budget horror flick “The Shallows” scored a better-than-expected opening, buoyed by rave reviews. But Stx’s risky opening strategy failed for Gary Ross’s historic epic “Free State of Jones,” starring Matthew McConaughey. Another national release in under 800 theaters bombed. “The Neon Demon” and its sub-$1 million haul is covered in Arthouse Audit. (This week’s box office preview is here; last weekend’s Top 10 Box Office Takeaways is here. »
- Tom Brueggemann
Halfway through both the summer movie season and the year of 2016 as a whole, sequels have been hit or miss. Follow-ups such as Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, X-Men: Apocalypse, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Now You See Me 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows couldn't capture the box office magic of its predecessors. Of course, the biggest movie of the year right now is a sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but last week, a follow-up 13 years in the making, Finding Dory, opened huge with $135 million, breaking Shrek the Third's record for biggest animated opening weekend ($121.6 million). As expected, this forgetful fish staved off three newcomers this weekend, 20th Century Fox's Independence Day: Resurgence, Sony's The Shallows and Stx Entertainment's Free State of Jones, repeating atop the box office with $73.2 million.
$200-million sequel “Independence Day: Resurgence” (20th Century Fox), among the most expensive summer 2016 releases, will test the idea that the public demands something new in a sequel in order to rush out to see it.
With the studio largely skipping pre-release screenings for domestic critics (London reviews were mixed), Fox is banking that two-decade-plus memories of the first film (whose star Will Smith did not return) and selling a surplus of action, effects and 3D beyond what was available in 1996 would give it life.
The first version was the biggest film of 1996, with an adjusted domestic gross of $594 million off a $97 million opening. That made it the fifth-ranked gross of the 90s, and until now was one of the few live-action blockbusters of recent years to lack a sequel.
- Tom Brueggemann
Chicago – The United States is still fighting the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The rebellious South has never completely given away its anger and sorrow for the changes the war has wrought on them. These larger themes are examined historically in the new film, “Free State of Jones.”
This is Matthew McConaughey at his finest, his performance as real history figure Newton Knight (that name could never be made up) is understated, subtle and respectful to the source. The direction by Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit”) – who also adapted the screenplay – creates an authentic atmosphere and cogent overview. But mostly this film speaks again to the struggle of the African American race in the U.S., and how a people that were brought here in chains, have never really been unchained as equal citizens in this country. As much as it is a film about Newton Knight, it also resonates as »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
After helping to launch The Hunger Games franchise with a $700M hit, some would assume writer-director Gary Ross wouldn’t have much trouble making another film. And yet, following that box-office and critical success, Ross still struggled to get a passion project of his made. For a decade, the director behind Seabiscuit and Pleasantville worked on Free State of Jones, which has finally made its […]
- Jack Giroux
The historical drama Free State Of Jones is based on a little-known, improbable true event that took place in the American South during the Civil War, when the residents of Jones County, Mississippi, both white and black, seceded from the Confederacy under the leadership of an ex-Confederate soldier and part-time preacher named Newton Knight.
Matthew McConaughey plays Newt Knight, who led an army of fellow white deserters and runaway black slaves who held off Confederate military by hiding out in Jones county’s inaccessible swamp. The film from director Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit”) follows up that dramatic story with another one, a depiction of events in the South following the Civil War, when Knight and his fellow anti-Rebel rebels tried to stand up to the Ku Klux Klan and rising segregation, a period rarely shown in films, and then mostly from the other side in “Gone With The Wind” and the appalling “Birth of a Nation. »
- Cate Marquis
It is easy to see why Matthew McConaughey might have been attracted to the new Civil War drama, Free State Of Jones, because if ever there was a role that fits this actor like a glove it has to be Newt Knight, the Mississippi farmer who led a group of white farmers and runaway slaves in a revolt against the confederacy during the Civil War. Writer-director Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit) reportedly spent ten years researching this true, but relatively unheralded… »
With summer beginning in earnest this weekend, movie patrons will be able to choose from an earthlings vs. aliens tentpole, one of the hottest animated films in history and a comedy starring two of the world’s most bankable stars. “Independence Day,” “Finding Dory,” and “Central Intelligence,” with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, are poised to blot out all challengers at the the multiplex.
But an upstart studio with big ambitions is hoping it can find a niche in the market with a gritty historical drama about a 150-year-old slice of Americana that few people had ever heard of.
“Free State of Jones” may be the most audacious piece of counter-programming on the 2016 summer calendar. Its June 24 opening is flying against, not only the headwinds of bigger, splashier competition, but of also a history of tough results for adult summer films. The movie’s tracking is weak, with weekend opening estimates of just $11 to $13 million, »
- James Rainey
Two days out from its long-anticipated theatrical bow, Stx Entertainment have rolled out an extended, six-minute preview of Free State of Jones, Gary Ross’ gruelling Civil War drama that places Matthew McConaughey at the forefront of an historic uprising.
He’ll take point as Newt Knight, a relentless Southern farmer who takes matters into his own hands when launching a revolt against the Confederacy and, in the process, carving out a democratic slice of land known as Jones County. Flanked by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell and Mahershala Ali, there’s plenty of awards talk swirling around Free State of Jones even when you factor in its atypical release window. Or, should Stx’s decision to shoehorn Ross’ drama into a mid-summer date be considered a red herring? Time will tell.
Expect Free State of Jones to march into theaters on June 24. The question now is, will you be checking out »
- Michael Briers
Stx Entertainment's epic action-drama Free State Of Jones opens this Friday June 24, in theaters nationwide and in doing so they have released a special 5-minute preview featuring Matthew McConaughey in an intense battle sequence that occurs near the opening of the film.
Directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.
Check out the 5-minute preview clip below.
Source: Stx Entertainment »
- Kellvin Chavez
After several weeks of underperforming sequels, including Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Pixar's Finding Dory helped breathe new life into the summer box office with a whopping $135 million opening weekend. This weekend, the lovable yet forgetful fish squares off against four new movies all opening in wide release, 20th Century Fox's Independence Day: Resurgence, Sony's The Shallows, Stx Entertainment's Free State of Jones and Broad Green Pictures' The Neon Demon. While Independence Day 2 will put up the biggest fight, Finding Dory will most likely prevail at the box office for a second week in a row.
Finding Dory's opening weekend haul breaks Shrek the Third's $121.6 million record as the biggest debut for an animated movie, while also surpassing Toy Story 3's $110.3 million mark for the biggest debut in Pixar history. Finding Dory, which features a star-studded voice cast including Ellen DeGeneres, »
Hate — as no one reading this needs to be reminded — clings for life to this country like a cat with its claws sunk into the side of a space shuttle as it screams towards the stratosphere. So while the inert, inelegant and (wait for it) somewhat problematic “Free State of Jones” may not be a valuable contribution to the canon of American historical epics, the shapelessness of its story is worth celebrating for how palpably it conveys the tenacity of prejudice.
In the wake of emancipation, a nefarious “apprenticeship” system is enacted in order to resume the tradition of slavery by another name; from the ruins of the Confederate Army, the Ku Klux Klan rises up to lynch a race of newly liberated citizens. And all the while, a brusque and bearded Matthew McConaughey rides against injustice from deep within the swampy heart of Mississippi, punctuating a half-century of historical »
- David Ehrlich
The upcoming historical war drama “Free State of Jones” follows Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), a Confederate dissident who led an armed rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi during the Civil War. Knight subsequently marries a former slave, establishes a mixed-race community in the South, and fought for the rights of African-Americans after the war is over. Director Gary Ross, who previously wrote and directed films like “Pleasantville” and “Seabiscuit,” has posted a comprehensive website annotating topics and scenes in the film to expand on their historical basis and accuracy, including extensive footnotes and many primary documents.
Ross made clear that he didn’t want the film to come off like the work of an amateur. “I stopped my life to read and study for two years before I even started writing a script,” Ross said in an interview with The New York Times. “If people want to pick apart this history, they can. But they should know that this wasn’t the glib work of a screenwriter who was inventing things.” In the same Nyt profile, Ross discussed how he consulted with many different historians, with Harvard’s John Stauffer commenting that working with the director was like “working with grad students you really like.” Ross also discussed how he tried to reframe Knight’s role in the film less as a “white savior” and more of an “ally,” and how he made sure not to sentimentalize the Confederate cause.
See the website for yourself. “The Free State of Jones” enters theaters on June 24th.
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- Vikram Murthi
See Full Gallery Here
Throughout the so-called McConaissance, Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey has explored the far reaches of space in Interstellar and flipped the bird at AIDS in Jean-Marc Vallée’s decorated character drama, Dallas Buyers Club.
Now ostensibly on the other end of a meteoric rise that witnessed the actor transform from romcom stalwart to a magnetic screen presence – thanks as much to his meaty film slate as McConaughey himself – the award-winning star only continues to line up eye-catching projects, the latest of which being Gary Ross’ Civil War drama, Free State of Jones.
Set to open later this month, Ross’ awards-friendly picture is inspired by the true story of Newt Knight (McConaughey), a defiant Southern farmer who rallied his fellow countrymen to rise up against the Confederacy and, essentially, put Jones County on the map as an independent state during one of the country’s more troubled periods. »
- Michael Briers
That’s according to The Playlist, revealing that the project – tentatively titled Ocean’s Ocho – has sprung into life after it was first announced late last year, and now the two-time Oscar winner is vying for a role alongside Sandra Bullock and, potentially, X-Men: Apocalypse star Jennifer Lawrence.
Details are few and far between at the time of writing, and sources closes to The Playlist caution that Blanchett is still negotiating for the plum gig. If that deal falls into place, however, the actress would assume a role similar to that of Brad Pitt in the original movies, setting the stage for some comic interplay and clandestine shenanigans with Sandra Bullock’s principal lead.
Passing on the torch for the rebooted Ocean’s Eleven is Steven Soderbergh. »
- Michael Briers
You’ll remember last fall we broke the news: Sandra Bullock would be starring in an all-female “Ocean's Eleven” film directed by Gary Ross (“The Hunger Games,” “Seabiscuit”). The project was concocted by Ross, who brought the idea to original ‘Ocean’s’ franchise director Steven Soderbergh. He in turn brought it to the late producer Jerry Weintraub and with Bullock in tow, the team was off and running (though the project was secretly in existence months before we reported it).
With a solid pitch from Ross, a longtime pal of Soderbergh’s, it was a no-brainer for Soderbergh to step aside and let Ross, director of the upcoming Civil War drama “Free State of Jones,” take over. However, there’s more. »
- The Playlist
It’s been four years since director Gary Ross helped launch The Hunger Games franchise. Ross, who was concerned he wouldn’t have enough time to make the sequels, stepped away from the series, leaving the other installments in the hands of director Francis Lawrence. Perhaps using his clout from the success of the first film, the Seabiscuit and Pleasantville director’s follow-up to The Hunger Games is a […]
- Jack Giroux
Meet Newton Knight, the proud farmer who stood defiant against the Confederacy when the Deep South become embroiled in the American Civil War during the mid-1800s.
Rising up against acts of tyranny and emancipation, Knight instigated an armed rebellion that witnessed thousands of fellow farmers flock to support his fight for the Free State of Jones – a remarkable story now bound for the silver screen via Gary Ross, director of The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit and Pleasantville.
At the center of that inspiring tale of Jones County is Matthew McConaughey, who takes point as Newton Knight for Ross’ Oscar-tipped drama. Had Stx Entertainment not chopped and changed the release window, moviegoers would already be indulging in McConaughey’s Newton Knight and the plight of his fellow freedom fighters, but as it stands, expect Free State to open on June 24 opposite Independence Day: Resurgence.
Also on board for Ross’ Civil War drama are Gugu Mbatha-Raw, »
- Michael Briers
Written and directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games,Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State Of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy.
Banding together with other small farmers and with the assistance of local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.
His marriage to a former slave, Rachel, and his subsequent establishment of a mixed race community was unique in the post-war South.
Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War. »
- Kellvin Chavez
Last fall, we broke the exclusive story that late producer Jerry Weintraub, ‘Ocean’s’ trilogy director Steven Soderbergh, and George Clooney were working on a female-led reboot of the “Ocean’s 11” franchise, with Sandra Bullock set to lead, and Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit,” “The Hunger Games“) directing. Meanwhile, putting the idea on the page was screenwriter Olivia Milch (“Queen & Country,” […]
- Kevin Jagernauth
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