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Oscars 2018: Why ‘Remember Me’ from ‘Coco’ Will Win Best Original Song

http://www.indiewire.com/2018/02/oscars-2018-remember-me-coco-best-original-song-1201927835/

“Remember Me” is unique among the Best Original Song nominees. Its love theme is central to Pixar’s “Coco,” helping pay tribute to Día de los Muertos as a unifying bridge for Mexican families. Sung in two very different styles, however, the song is also very personal to its composers, the Oscar-winning husband and wife team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (“Frozen”).

“It was really healing,” said Anderson-Lopez. “Bobby lost his mom in August and we did an ofrenda [collection of objects] with all of our relatives that we’ve lost in October. We sat around and told stories. It was a different kind of grieving then the kind you do at a funeral because it was joyful. We made it feel like she was with us and all of my relatives.”

Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

Lopez’s mother was fortunate to hear “Remember Me” after it was composed. In fact, it was played at his grandmother’s funeral prior to his mother’s passing as well. And since the opening of “Coco,” Anderson-Lopez has received several Twitter responses thanking her for the song and how it’s helped them get over their grief.

Their participation began with director Lee Unkrich’s pitch. He asked the songwriters to compose a song “that in the beginning of the movie we hear one way and means one thing, and then we hear it later as the song was meant to be,” said Lopez.

“We loved that idea because it didn’t sound like anything we’ve ever heard in a movie before where a song played so crucial a role to the story and the emotion of the film,” added Lopez. “And we were eager to write it but first we had to learn more about the music.”

Taking a Mexican Deep Dive

First the couple visited the Yucatán and were given a crash course in the many different styles and genres by consultant Camilo Lara. In particular, they were introduced to such ’30s icons as Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete, who were the inspiration for Benjamin Bratt’s Ernesto de la Cruz.

“Coco”

“The history of Mexican music was almost like a college course here in our forties, way, way out of college,” said Anderson-Lopez. “We were introduced to mariachi, banda, jarocho, peteneras.”

Coming up with Two Versions

“Remember Me” appears as both a joyous celebration (sung by Bratt’s de la Cruz) and as a lullaby (sung by both Gael Garcia Bernal’s Hector and Anthony Gonzalez’s Miguel). But Lopez needed to write the melody for the lullaby before they could tackle the grand, ranchero-style showstopper.

“Bobby sat down to write it the next morning after we heard some of the beautiful Mexican standards and came up with this melody in his boxer shorts,” Anderson-Lopez said. “And I asked him to play it into my phone because I had to go into Manhattan for a rehearsal. So I took the Voice Memo and played it on the F train and wrote the lyric to the melody between Brooklyn and mid-town Manhattan. The lullaby version was a real easy one to write because I know how horrible it is to leave your children because you have to go do something far away for music, and it came from a very personal place.”

“Remember Me”

But then they needed the song to work note for note for the bigger version. “We re-envisioned it as an uptempo, mariachi tune. We even did an little orchestration with trumpets and violins,” said Lopez.

Songwriter-composer Germaine Franco came in “and brought an authenticity and vibrant color to the mariachi version,” said Anderson-Lopez. “It was so fun because they do a version of ‘Remember Me’ in all the regional genres we learned sprinkled throughout the movie. I’ve never seen that before. It’s a wonderful, little musicology lesson. It’s also really amazing how they were able to show a complicated family from the past and healing it. That seems to be part of the zeitgeist right now with ‘This Is Us.’ These family stories begin long before we’re born and being reconnected is a really good idea. And we were excited to capture that with ‘Remember Me.’”

“Remember Me”

Pixar

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‘Black Panther’ Scorches Box Office Records, Sets the Bar for 2018 and Beyond

http://www.indiewire.com/2018/02/black-panther-box-office-records-2018-marvel-1201929926/

Marvel’s “Black Panther” (Disney) arrived with a record-breaking bang at the 2018 box office, outperforming pre-opening estimates for its three day U.S./Canada opening.

Check out its all-time records: “Black Panther” bests “Deadpool” by more than $50 million as the best February and pre-March opening weekends ever. It tops last year’s “Beauty and the Beast” as the best pre-May debut of all time. It nearly doubles “Furious 7” as the best opening for a black-directed film. It is triple the best previous record (held by “Straight Outta Compton”) for initial weekend of a film with a primarily black cast.

Those numbers will be re-counted when Sunday’s actual numbers are reported, plus the boost the movie will get from a four-day semi-holiday on Monday. And adjusting to an even playing field still leaves “Black Panther” remarkably (considering the month of release) among the ten best openers ever.

“Black Panther”

Ryan Coogler’s breakout film “Fruitvale Station” did well in limited release and commercial sequel “Creed” marked a decent wide release. But “Black Panther”‘s grosses are seismic and game-changing for the director. The movie is the biggest non-“Star Wars” opener since “Jurassic World” (with a prime June release date) nearly three years ago. Yes, “Black Panther” comes from within the lucrative comic book universe of adaptations, but by those high standards it ranks #4 (adjusted) after both “Avengers” films and “Spider-Man 3.”

There have been 13 Marvel or D.C. Comic book releases since “Avengers: Age of Ultron” opened to (an adjusted) $204 million in May, 2015. A majority have opened over $100 million (including similar game-changer “Wonder Woman.” But no comic book movie since (the best off-season opener “Batman v. Superman” opened to an adjusted $178 million, “Deadpool” $141 million), despite showcasing a who’s who of comic world characters (“Thor,” “X-Men,” “Spider-Man” and the ensemble in “Suicide Squad”) boasted the appeal of this long-overdue all-black cast of heroes and villains starring in an African myth.

The huge initial interest that propelled many fans to Thursday night and Friday shows likely account for a Saturday decline somewhat above some other recent Marvel and D.C. titles. The falloff was 13 per cent (from a higher starting point from most others) for its second full day from the initial totals. “Thor: Ragnarok” dropped  five per cent, “Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” eight per cent.

But “The Avengers” also boasted an A+ CInemascore and dropped slightly more (14 per cent) on its initial Saturday on its way to a domestic total that was triple its opening (adjusted, its domestic total was just over $700 million).

Can “Black Panther” repeat that kind of long-term performance? There’s no way to judge after two days. The four-day totals will give a hint, but next weekend will be more key to assessing the future.

But even a standard ultimate showing (which would leave this somewhere around $500 million domestic – about 25 per cent above “Wonder Woman”) would change the rules about what American moviegoers want to see. “Black Panther” will elevate a wider range of stories, including Hollywood’s core big-budget action adventures. Yes, there has been a steady supply of black-centered releases going back to blaxploitation in the 1970s, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy lead the way in the 1980s and so on. But these often have come with non-minority creative control, and usually with lower budgets and compensation for many principles based on perceived economics.

"Black Panther"

“Black Panther”

The main excuse for not green-lighting similar films with the $300 million plus production and marketing costs expended on “Black Panther” is the resistance seen historically to black-centered films overseas. The foreign market for top-end productions (though not the “Star Wars” series) is expected to provide roughly two-thirds of the total gross for high end films. “Panther” debuted in a majority of the world, though not the key territories of China, Japan, or Russia yet.

The gross for these initial territories came in a little less than the domestic return ($169 million). What happens in the remainder of them will be important. But it would be reasonable at this point to anticipate at least $400 million overseas, along with at least that much (low end total) domestic. That would put the film at over $800 million worldwide. That total wouldn’t have placed it quite in the global Top Ten for 2017 (it would be about the same as the most recent “Pirates of the Caribbean,” which soared overseas and was similarly expensive). “Wonder Woman” did $812 million combined, with a similar domestic/foreign split. And it’s good enough, to put it mildly, even if the domestic share is higher than usual. It just might take longer for foreign to catch up.

The performance boosted year-to-date numbers, which had fallen below 2017 so far, to a boost of over five per cent (by the time different week day calendars balance out by midweek). “Panther” made up about two thirds of ticket sales (a lower total that the better than 75 per cent share “The Last Jedi” took in its pre-Christmas weekend.)

Early Man

Drowned out by the film was Nick Park’s Aardman animation “Early Man” (Lionsgate), which could only take in an anemic $3,150,000. It was hurt among kids by the draw of the second weekend of the less sophisticated “Peter Rabbit” (Sony), which managed as decent $17,500,000 and a 31 per cent drop.

“Fifty Shades Freed” (Universal), last week’s #1, dropped 56 per cent to fall behind “Early Man” slightly. Buried among the figures during the week though was the film’s dominance on Wednesday (Valentine’s Day). It grossed nearly $11 million, more than half of the day’s business as the clear film of choice to drag men to that night.

Long-running hits “Jumanji: Welcome to the Club” (Sony) and “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox) both dropped around 20 per cent, a bit above their recent average but both amazing holds for films around since Christmas. But they needed company going forward, assuming that “Panther” has decent legs, since they can’t be expected to sustain theaters that much longer.

“Early Man”

The Top Ten

1. Black Panther (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 88; Est. budget: $200 million

$192,023,000 in 4,020 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $47,767,000; Cumulative: $192,023,000

2. Peter Rabbit (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend: #2

$17,250,000 (-31%) in 3,725 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,631; Cumulative: $48,223,000

3. Fifty Shades Freed (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend: #1

$16,940,000 (-56%) in 3,768 theaters (no change); PTA: $4,496; Cumulative: $76,134,000

4. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) Week 9; Last weekend: #

$7,945,000 (-21%) in 2,800 theaters (-336); PTA: $2,838; Cumulative: $377,624,000

5. 15:17 to Paris (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend: #

$7,685,000 (-39%) in 3,042 theaters (no change); PTA: $2,526; Cumulative: $25,433,000

6. The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox) Week 9; Last weekend: #5

$5,100,000 (-21%) in 1,936 theaters (-437); PTA: $2,634; Cumulative: $154,478,000

7. Early Man (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 68; Est. budget: $50 million

$3,150,000 in 2,494 theaters; PTA: $1,263; Cumulative: $3,150,000

8. Maze Runner: The Death Cure (20th Century Fox) Week 4; Last weekend: #6

$2,525,000 (-59%) in 1,891 theaters (-1,032); PTA: $1,335; Cumulative: $54,005,000

9. Winchester (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend: #7

$2,230,000 (-57%) in 1,471 theaters (-1,001); PTA: $1,508; Cumulative: $21,860,000

10. Samson (Pureflix) NEW – Metacritic: 17; no budget estimate reported

$1,972,000 in 1,249 theaters; PTA: $1,579; Cumulative: $1,972,000


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