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The Lego Movie was the only clear winner during a so-so February at the box office. Overall domestic grosses came in at around $700 million, which was a 13 percent improvement over last year. Still, it's way off from 2012's $818.2 million record, and is also noticeably lower than 2010 and 2009.Through the end of February, year-to-date box office is trending up 10 percent from 2013. If that pattern can continue, 2014 will be the first year in which the domestic box office breaks the $11 billion mark.The Lego Movie dominated the month of February, earning more than the next four titles combined. The surprise animated hit opened to $69 million, which is the second-highest February opening ever. In the weeks since, it hasn't dropped by more than 37 percent; through the end of February, Lego had already earned $192.7 million at the domestic box office.If it holds up well against Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Lego will wind up with at least $270 million total. »
- Ray Subers <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Oscar-winning actor who died in February remembered by film industry at Academy Awards ceremony
• Xan Brooks liveblogs the ceremony
• Full list of winners as they're announced
The Oscars paid tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Oscar-winning actor who died last year – devoting part of its traditional In Memoriam section to the actor whose death at the age of 46 shocked the film world.
Hoffman won the best actor award for his performance as Truman Capote in the 2005 biopic of the celebrated writer, and had three best supporting actor nominations for Charlie Wilson's War, Doubt and The Master. He was one of the most widely praised actors of his generation, creating startling performances for some of America's most acclaimed directors, including Todd Solondz (Happiness), Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Master) and the Coen brothers (The Big Lebowski). He also shone in Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley and George Clooney »
- Andrew Pulver
Is Alexandre Desplat the hardest-working man in Hollywood? If they were going to give an Oscar for that this weekend, he'd certainly be a contender, though as it is he's nominated instead in the real category of Best Score, for “Philomena.” In the last three years alone he has worked on that film, “The Monuments Men” (where he also had a small role), “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Rise of the Guardians,” “Rust and Bone,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “Argo,” “The Ides of March,” “Carnage,” “The King's Speech,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and more. And he shows no sign of slowing down, with scores in the pipeline for “Godzilla," Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" and now also for “D,” Roman Polanski's new project. Desplat is Polanski's go-to music guy at present, having done “Carnage,” “The Ghost Writer” and even the documentary "Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir. »
- Ben Brock
Half-term brought Warners' Lego film a strong opening weekend, well ahead of George Clooney's men-on-a-mission movie and the Valentine's Day releases
• The Lego Movie – review
• The Monuments Men – review
Animation is the one film genre that regularly supplies big hits without the benefit of character familiarity, with successes from studios such as Fox/Blue Sky (Ice Age), Universal/Illumination (Despicable Me) and Pixar (everything bar the sequels). Even recent Disney successes such as Tangled and Frozen barely traded on audience affection for their fairytale origins. However, the explosive opening numbers for The Lego Movie suggest brand familiarity can be an asset in animation, just as it invariably is in live action.
Opening with £8.05m including £2.16m in previews, The Lego Movie has achieved the strongest start for a non-sequel animation since The Simpsons Movie in July 2007 – although excluding preview figures, it was beaten by the opening weekend of 2009's Up, »
- Charles Gant
George Clooney's drama about a team of misfits at war with Nazi art thieves fails to strike the right tone
Look at the famous faces adorning the posters for this second world war caper and it is hard to figure out whether they're meant to be stony-faced or ever-so-slightly smirking. The same is true of the film, which wobbles uneasily between twinkly smiles and schmaltzy frowns, struggling to decide just how seriously to take its subject matter. The premise is promising: a ragtag team of misfits from Europe and America, united by a shared love of art, sent into the field of battle to stop the Nazis plundering and/or destroying the fruits of human culture – paintings, books, sculptures, icons etc.
The message is clear – fight people and they fight back; destroy their culture and they cease to exist – and neither Clooney nor co-writer Grant Heslov is afraid to say this out loud, »
- Mark Kermode
Almost exactly 30 years ago, two young aspiring actors named Grant and George signed up for an acting class. They immediately got along and as well as sharing opinions on such important, friendship-forming subjects as sports, women and humour, they both had an optimism that they would, some day, somehow, make it.
"You can probably see our old acting school from this window!" grins Grant Heslov, gesturing towards the giant window in the Beverley Hills hotel suite where he has spent the day doing interviews about his latest film, The Monuments Men. Just across the hall, George Clooney is doing the same. Upstairs, the stars of the film that Heslov and Clooney produced and wrote together (Clooney also directed and stars), including Matt Damon, »
- Hadley Freeman
As jaunty as Jean Dujardin’s beret, but in a sincere, old-fashioned kind of way. It could almost have been rediscovered from the 1940s… I’m “biast” (pro): love Clooney as an actor and a filmmaker; love the cast
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
I try to avoid hearing too much of other critics’ reactions to a film before I’ve seen it, but there was no avoiding the barrage of disappointment that came hurling over Twitter last week, as so many of my North American colleagues responded to The Monuments Men with a resounding “meh.” This was a disappointment to me, because I’d been so looking forward to this movie.
Well, now that I’ve seen it, I don’t know what the hell they’re all talking about, because this movie is fantastic. »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Right now you can see the latest filmmaking effort from director George Clooney and producer Grant Heslov with The Monuments Men. Unfortunately, despite my excitement for the film, it turned out to be a disappointing historical drama with an inconsistent tone reminiscent of the live-action dramas Disney made in the early to mid 90s. But Clooney and his Smokehouse Pictures producing partner Heslov are still a great team who have delivered fine films like The Ides of March and Good Night and Good Luck. Now they're lining up a new project with THR saying Sony has set the duo to remake the Norwegian thriller Pioneer. The Norwegian film is set in the early 80s, focusing on the birth of the Norwegian oil industry, and follows Petter, a bachelor whose sole passion is deep-sea diving as he and his brother Knut, a family man, take part in a test of whether »
- Ethan Anderton
George Clooney and Grant Heslov are two of Hollywood’s most interesting producers. Under their Smokehouse Pictures banner they have given us great films such as The Ides Of March and last year’s best picture winner, Argo. Their latest, The Monuments Men, may not have been as well received as some of their other titles, but it looks like the duo is moving right onto their next project as there’s now word that Sony is negotiating the remake rights to the Norwegian thriller Pioneer, for Smokehouse to produce.
The original released last year in Norway and also played at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Set in the 1980s during the country’s oil boom, the film tells the story of Petter, a professional diver who is obsessed with reaching the bottom of the Norwegian Sea. With his brother Knut, he seems ready to take on this dangerous mission, »
- Alexander Lowe
First off dear readers, I have to apologize to you for not bringing you my promised Super Bowl movie spot roundup last week. Unfortunately, the first part of last week ended up being crazy busy for me, and it got away from me. But I can tell you that the spot for Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier was by far my favorite. In the meantime, we got a new trailer for the upcoming superhero sequel, so that’s the subject of this week’s Trailer Trashin’ column.
Premise: Two years after the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) resides peacefully in Washington, D.C., struggling to adapt to life in contemporary society. But after a S.H.I.E.L.D. compatriot is attacked, Rogers becomes entangled in a mystery that may endanger the globe. Together with Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America attempts to uncover the »
- Timothy Monforton
“George Clooney approached me during the filming of Descendants  at the halfway party on the dance floor and nonchalantly asked me if I wanted to shoot his movie The Ides of March ,” recalls Phedon Papamichael who was shooting his second project for filmmaker Alexander Payne at the time with Clooney cast in the leading role. “That was a direct response to observing how I work with Alexander and that involves having an intimate, active and friendly set which is without a lot of technical restrictions to the actors. George Clooney and a lot of actors prefer not to repeat things over and over again as it feels like a lot of wasted or unnecessary coverage to them. We’re economic and specific with the way we cover scenes resulting in short shooting days which George also likes. »
Everything is awesome for the team behind The Lego Movie (Cinema Score: A). The 3D animated extravaganza is estimated to have earned a spectacular $69.11 million this weekend — the biggest opening of the still young year, and the second largest February opening ever (the top spot belongs to 2004′s Passion of the Christ). The Phil Lord and Christopher Miller movie blew past studio and analyst predictions, which had the pic in the $40 to $55 million range. Playing in 3,775 theaters, most of which were in 3D, Lego scored an incredible $18,307 per location average, and, including overseas profits ($18.1 million from 34 territories), The Lego Movie has already stacked up $87.2 million. »
- Lindsey Bahr
Despite competition from the tape-delayed opening Olympics ceremony, box office was strong yesterday, with "The Lego Movie" (Warner Bros.) taking in a robust $17,140,000 ahead of what is likely to be a very strong matinee-fueled weekend, though not record-breaking for February (the best remains "The Passion of the Christ"). "Lego" looks to be among Warners' third recent #1 film to open to over $50 million --along with "Gravity" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"-- and will be the biggest opening of 2014 so far. Coming in a distant second, around expectations, is George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" (Sony) at $7 million. This is actually by some distance the best first day gross for a film he directed (doubling the take for "The Ides of March"). With an all-star cast and heist theme, it is aimed more at a wider "Ocean's Eleven"/sequel audience, with its full weekend gross (likely around $20 million) a »
- Tom Brueggemann
I still remember the first time I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, and I was 13 years old. Already, I’d been bitten by the film bug, and that bite had driven me to pursue films that my friends had no interest in seeing. As such, I wouldn’t come to see Magnolia until it had been released on VHS. I recall the captivating presence of the actor: this pudgy, baritone man. The heart he put into his role, and the fascinating sincerity with which he played a simple male nurse attending a dying man. I never forgot him.
While much has been made of Mr. Hoffman’s more lauded roles in the wake of his recent death, his turns as Truman Capote (Capote) or Lancaster Dodd (The Master), for example, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has been »
- Mike Worby
The film world was rocked last weekend with news of the unexpected death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. One of the most well-respected actors working before his untimely death, Hoffman was known for his incredible range, and his ability to deliver a stunning performance, no matter the role. The varied nature of his filmography is a testament to his skill, with numerous scenes showcasing his ability to disappear into a role, no matter what it was. Here are five such scenes that illuminate the versatility of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Paul Thomas Anderson and Philip Seymour Hoffman had a number of memorable collaborations. One such collaboration was 1997’s Boogie Nights, from which this scene comes. Playing Scotty, Hoffman perfectly captures the feeling of rejection, the nervousness of attraction, and the emotions associated with unrequited love in the span of 2 minutes, with his breakdown in the car unnerving in its authenticity. »
- Deepayan Sengupta
Does digital data offer indicators that can be used to monitor marketing effectiveness and predict box office success even before awareness turns into intent? We analyzed this weekend’s new movies across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google (the methodology behind the numbers is below) over the seven days leading up to their release, when marketing campaigns should be at their peak.
“The Lego Movie” is set to be 2014’s first animated smash hit, following in the footsteps of “Despicable Me 2,” “Frozen” and “Monsters University,” which were all among 2013’s top 10 highest grossing movies. The question isn’t so much whether it will make any money, but how much?
On social, animated movies tend to fall into two categories — franchise and original — with franchise movies receiving much more social buzz as they build on their existing fan bases. While “Lego Movie” is generally behind “Despicable Me 2” and “Monsters University, »
- Tobias Bauckhage
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
By now, everyone knows who George Clooney is as an actor. He’s witty, charming, charismatic; he has a very strong on-screen presence. We all know what to expect from a Clooney performance nowadays, which is why it’s exciting whenever he takes on more challenging film roles. Whether or not he takes chances, Clooney is always worth watching as an actor as the confidence that he exudes in front of the camera cannot be denied. As a director, however, George Clooney is much less sure of himself and it’s a problem that rears its ugly head in his latest film, The Monuments Men.
The Monuments Men is the fifth film directed by George Clooney. Even after five films, Clooney still seems to lack a real sense of style. Now, he has made good films in the past, such as Good Night and »
- Ken Guidry
George Clooney is an undervalued filmmaker. With Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Clooney showed he was the real deal behind the camera. He followed that, his best film, with the widely acclaimed Goodnight and Good Luck, as well as the overlooked Leatherheads, and one of 2011′s best films, The Ides of March. His films have no shortage of ambition or passion, but his newest movie, The Monuments Men, suffers from perhaps too much of both. Hitler started stealing art during World War II in the hopes of creating a cultural town made up of all these stolen pieces. He was robbing people of their history and culture, and in retaliation Fdr commissioned a team to go retrieve the art and find their rightful owners. George Stout (Clooney) led the group and convinced Fdr to support the mission and his team of non-traditional soldiers. For the most part, this ensemble features the kind of limited character definition we »
- Jack Giroux
Update, 4:25 Am: Exclusive Media co-chairman/CEO Nigel Sinclair has confirmed Deadline’s exclusive story last night that a reorganization is underway at the company, one that very well could leave the co-founders no longer running the label after some big bets didn’t pay off. Sinclair issued this statement: “Exclusive Media’s management is engaged in collaborative discussions with our partners from Dasym Investment Strategies Bv regarding the forward plan for the company. We will make an announcement regarding the outcome of these discussions at the appropriate time.” Previous Exclusive, Thursday Pm: The talk of Berlin is a shake-up that is going on right now at Exclusive Media, the production and foreign sales company that is headed by Nigel Sinclair and Guy East. I’m hearing that this will likely end with both of them either leaving those executive posts or transitioning into producing deals. Insiders acknowledge the turmoil, »
- MIKE FLEMING JR
In a way I am not sure I have ever felt before, for a figure I do not know personally, I am still trying to comprehend Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing.
When we grow with artists, we do not just identify with them, or become “fans.” We love these artists, anticipate our experiences with them, and similarly better understand the potential of their means of an expression. Loving an artist indeed becomes a personal venture, especially if one is to believe that art, something that keeps us human, belongs to all of us just as much as it does the artist (to paraphrase a line actually said by Hugh Bonneville in this upcoming Friday’s The Monuments Men). My love for Philip Seymour Hoffman, an icon lost, is directly interwoven with how I began to truly watch films, and learn from them.
To quote A.O. Scott in a bold remark of perfect clarity, »
- Nick Allen
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