‘Coco’ and ‘Wonder’ Lead Lousy December Box Office


Grosses this weekend were seasonably typical, which means as lousy as most early December weekends. With “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” looming large, most companies are avoiding new wide releases. That makes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Like “Moana” last year, a Disney animated title leads the pack for a third straight week: Pixar’s “Coco” continues to be a strong performer, well-positioned to play well through the lucrative holidays ahead. “Coco” should easily continue in two-thirds or more of its dates, even though it started lower than last year’s “Moana.”

Unlike last year, no new wide release boosted results, which will come in just under the same weekend in 2016 at around $80 million total. Last year saw “Office Christmas Party” open to $17 million. This year, the sole film to risk opening wide was the senior citizen comedy “Just Getting Started” (Broad Green). It managed a poor $3.2 million, good enough only for #9.

Wonder Jacob Tremblay


The saving graces this week: good holds for both “Justice League” (Warner Bros.) and “Wonder” (Lionsgate). The box office was buttressed by above-average performance — $10 million in the Top Ten alone — for three crossover specialty hits, two from A24. “The Disaster Artist” provided about two-thirds of that total for a #4 showing in only 840 theaters in its second weekend, and “Lady Bird” continues to thrive at #8. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight) fell just outside the Top Ten.

(Read more box office coverage of specialty titles at Arthouse Audit).

With “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Disney) predicted to open to over $200 million next weekend, grabbing multiple screens in many complexes, this weekend it was critical for current films to show as much strength as possible to improve their chances for holding on next week (which also launches Fox Animation’s “Ferdinand”).

Among the top four holdovers, “Wonder” held best, down 30 per cent, crossing the $100 million mark. Its current gross level and position as the sole Lionsgate film in release as well as its family appeal guarantees strong representation in the weeks ahead.

“Justice League”


“Justice League” isn’t collapsing. It maintained second place, though “Wonder” is getting close, with a 42 per cent fall. “Justice league” is vulnerable to losing many screens to “Star Wars” next weekend when exhibitors have so many choices. With Warners’ vital D.C. Comics franchise  projected to total $700 million worldwide total and a pre-marketing cost of $300 million, that means a profit shortfall. Yet the holidays and the chance to add to the total beckon. How this holds next week will determine its fate ahead.

“Daddy’s Home” (Paramount) and “Murder on the Orient Express” (20th Century Fox) continue their march to about $100 million, at the high end of what appeared likely when they opened mid-November. The animated “The Star” (Sony) with its faith-based religious appeal held best of all, down under 10 per cent.

All in all, not a routine weekend despite low end totals.

The Disaster Artist Dave Franco James Franco

“The Disaster Artist”


The Top Ten

1. Coco (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$18,303,000 (-33%) in 3,748 theaters (-239); PTA (per theater average): $4,883; Cumulative: $135,509,000

2. Justice League (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #2

$9,595,000 (-42%) in 3,508 theaters (-312); PTA: $2,735; Cumulative: $212,060,000

3. Wonder (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$8,450,000 (-30%) in 3,519 theaters (+70); PTA: $2,401; Cumulative: $100,303,000

4. The Disaster Artist (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #12

$6,435,000 (+431%) in 840 theaters (+821); PTA: $7,661; Cumulative: $8,032,000

5. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney) Week 6; Last weekend #4

$6,291,000 (-36%) in 3,047 theaters (-101); PTA: $2,065; Cumulative: $301,156,000

6. Daddy’s Home (Paramount) Week 5; Last weekend #5

$6,000,000 (-21%) in 3,263 theaters (-140); PTA: $1,839; Cumulative: $91,159,000

7. Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox) Week 5; Last weekend #6

$5,100,000 (-25%) in 3,089 theaters (-112); PTA: $1,593; Cumulative: $92,708,000

8. The Star (Sony) Week; Last weekend #9

$3,675,000 (-10%) in 2,976 theaters (+154); PTA: $1,235; Cumulative: $32,279,000

9. Lady Bird (A24) Week 6; Last weekend #8

$3,547,000 (-17%) in 1,557 theaters (+363); PTA: $2,278; Cumulative: $22,331,000

10. Just Getting Started (Broad Green) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 25; est. budget: $22 million

$3,182,000 in 2,161 theaters; PTA: $1,472; Cumulative: $3,182,000

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British Independent Film Awards: ‘God’s Own Country’ and ‘Lady Macbeth’ Win Top Prizes


“God’s Own Country” won multiple prizes at the British Independent Film Awards, including Best British Independent Film, Best Actor for Josh O’Connor, and Best Debut Screenwriter for Francis Lee. Lee also directed the romantic drama, which stood tall at the ceremony in London; “Lady Macbeth” — which took home the Screenplay, Actress, Most Promising Newcomer, Cinematography, and Costume Design awards — and “I Am Not a Witch” (Director, Debut Director, Breakthrough Producer) had big nights as well.

This year’s ceremony, the 20th, took place in London. Full list of winners:

Best British Independent Film

“God’s Own Country”

Best Director

Rungano Nyoni “I Am Not a Witch”

Best Screenplay

Alice Birch “Lady Macbeth”

Best Actress

Florence Pugh “Lady Macbeth”

Best Actor

Josh O’Connor “God’s Own Country”

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Clarkson “The Party”

Best Supporting Actor

Simon Russell Beale “The Death of Stalin”

“Lady Macbeth”

Most Promising Newcomer

Naomi Ackie “Lady Macbeth”

The Douglas Hickox Award (Best Debut Director)

Rungano Nyoni “I Am Not a Witch”

Debut Screenwriter

Francis Lee “God’s Own Country”

Breakthrough Producer

Emily Morgan “I Am Not a Witch”

The Discovery Award

“In Another Life”

Best Documentary

“Almost Heaven” Carol Salter

Best British Short Film

“Fish Story”

Best Cinematography

Ari Wegner “Lady Macbeth”

“The Death of Stalin”


Best Casting

Sarah Crowe “The Death of Stalin”

Best Costume Design

Holly Waddington “Lady Macbeth”

Best Editing

Jon Gregory “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best Effects

Nick Allder, Ben White “The Ritual”

Best Make Up & Hair Design

Nicole Stafford “The Death of Stalin”

Best Music

Carter Burwell “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Best Production Design

Cristina Casali “The Death of Stalin”

Best Sound

Anna Bertmark “God’s Own Country”

Best International Independent Film

“Get Out”

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‘Outlander’ Review: The Sweltering Jamaican Heat Leads to a Lukewarm Season Finale


[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for “Outlander” Season 3 Episode 13, “Eye of the Storm.”]

Unrequited, Requited Love

Three seasons in and it’s very likely that Claire and Jamie have as many lives as a cat, given the various arrests, witch hunts, and enemies they have out to do them harm. Yet every single time they seem to escape with barely a scratch, as was the case in this season-ender. Despite being dragged off by the overeager Porpoise captain and arrested at the end of last week’s penultimate episode, Jamie managed to predictably finagle himself out of being hauled back overseas thanks to a quick intervention by Lord John Grey and Fergus. As such, he was able to return to Claire and help her secure Young Ian’s safe return, and the entire Fraser clan made it out alive, albeit with a few more emotional scars than when they first entered that cave.

Since that all went down in the first half of the episode it left plenty of time for a long and luxurious Claire and Jamie reunion on their voyage back home, quelling the action for a few moments and allowing fans of such things to be swept away in the romance of it all. Naturally, that romance was short-lived when the seas had their way with the Artemis, but for a few brief moments, it was the happy reunion ending before the storm (and subsequent secondary happy ending) that has been missing all season long.

The Bakra

Outlander Season 3 2017

There are few actual coincidences in “Outlander,” and those old bones Joe Abernathy and Claire dissected from a Jamaican cave were bound to resurface sooner rather than later. As it turned out, the finale was the time to discover those bones actually belonged to Geillis, and that Claire was the one who nearly severed her head with a machete when she threatened to sacrifice Ian, jump in the pool, and head to Claire’s present day in order to kill Brianna. Oh the things some will do for their royal causes, huh? The entire scene marked a swift and fitting end for the one-time witch and fellow time-traveler, bringing an end to Claire’s greatest foe a little too quickly for our tastes.

Of course, there was still some awkward lead-up to that moment, including Claire spilling all about her daughter, a very anti-Claire move considering how smart the character typically is. But hey, when you’re fighting for your life and a crazed politico holds all the cards, you do what you have to do.

Tribal Awakenings

While Margaret’s fortune-telling abilities weren’t anchored in the sacrificial tribal dances happening outside of Geillis’s residences as they were in the book, she and her brother were still present for the ordeal. Why they were there, specifically, and the purpose of such a scene in general actually remains unclear, but it did lead to some new revelations about Willoughby, who was also present. He followed his new potential love to the fires, where he had his final (and equally brief) showdown with Archibald Campbell and freed Margaret once and for all.
It was a quick detour from the rest of the action to be sure, and equally confusing given Willoughby’s former disdain for white women. We suppose we’ll chalk it up to the curious and poetic side of him being interested in Margaret’s abilities, since there’s no other explanation given how far this onscreen character has veered from the one originally presented in the book.

Outlander Season 3 2017

The Tides are Turning

This season skipped over plenty of potential big scenes for time or budgetary reasons (the Artemis crashing the first time comes to mind), but the magnitude of the storm that hit the ship in the finale certainly made up for it. It was obvious that a fair portion of the VFX budget went into that sickening crash, leading to one of the most exciting scenes of the entire season. When you sign up for episodes at sea, that’s the kind of turnaround you expect. Although to be fair, it’s also a huge suspension of belief that both Claire and Jamie were able to survive such a thrashing overboard, but there you have it. Another cat life down, folks.

Welcome to America

Considering that there’s still a warrant out for Jamie’s arrest it didn’t make sense that the ship could actually sail back to Scotland and return Ian with Jamie on board, so the fact that the entire (unharmed) crew landed in the Americas was probably a blessing in disguise. At the very least it gives Claire and Jamie the opportunity to face new foes in an unfamiliar terrain next season, setting up plenty of new story going forward.

By the Book

Outlander Season 3 2017

Given Jamie’s status with the law, a fair portion of “Voyager” was dedicated to Claire and Jamie discussing where they could live, with Claire suggesting America and Jamie being against the idea. That’s why the shipwreck that eventually landed them there was slightly fortuitous. Meanwhile, Grey’s involvement in helping Jamie escape was understated in the episode—it was his ship and money that helped Claire and Jamie get off the island unnoticed by the Porpoise in the first place.

Speaking of, the entire Porpoise chase before and during the storm was absent here, meaning that Jamie still has plenty of enemies seeking him out. Then there’s the entire Willoughby storyline, which has yet to play out. Perhaps the writers have a larger role for him next season, but whatever the case is, he’s very much still a part of this universe, with stronger ties to Jamie than ever.

For now, we’ll just have to be content in knowing that this couple has earned a small respite of happiness before they embark on whatever adventure next season brings.

Grade: C+

Outlander has been renewed for a fourth season and is expected to return sometime next year. “Outlander” airs on Starz and on W Network in Canada.

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Spike Lee Weighs in on the Casey Affleck, Nate Parker Controversy: ‘It Was a Dirty, Low-Down Shame’


Armie Hammer made headlines once again this week when he compared Casey Affleck unfavorably to Nate Parker, in whose “The Birth of a Nation” Hammer co-starred. He later apologized for his remarks — which had to do with Affleck (who settled two sexual-harassment lawsuits) winning an Oscar the same year that Parker (who was accused of rape in college) appeared to lose all his career momentum — but someone else was paying attention: Spike Lee.

Lee was asked about the situation in a Daily Beast interview, responding in typically fashion that “there were some shenanigans there” and “it was a dirty, low-down shame.”

“[Affleck] settled several times,” says Lee. “I don’t know the exact details of it. One day, someone’s going to write a book about that whole thing, because I’ve never seen someone fall so quick. I just find it strange that on the same day, Variety and Hollywood Reporter reported [on Parker]. There were some shenanigans there.”

On the subject of a producer sabotaging Parker by leaking documents, Lee says that “I know who it is. I’m not going to say who it is. But they do that type of stuff. [‘The Birth of a Nation’] was a film that they knew was a lock, so they had to come up with some dirt to knock it out,” he continues.

“And they were very successful. It was a dirty, low-down shame. A dope-fiend double-cross. It’s still a great film, too. I’ll go on record and say that’s a great film, and I said it the first time I saw it at Sundance.” Read the full interview here.

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‘I Tonya’ is a Hit for Neon, While A24 Thrives With ‘The Disaster Artist’ and ‘Lady Bird’


Over the last six weekends, six new specialized releases have opened to a per-theater average of over $60,000. “I, Tonya” is the latest, and comes at a time when seats at prime theaters are at a premium.

Still, it isn’t necessarily a bad weekend to open. Last year, “La La Land” launched to $881,000 in five theaters, a nearly $170,000-per-theater result. But it had far less competition, ecstatic reviews, top stars, and signs of early appeal that propelled it to over $100 million and much more worldwide.

This year has more strong titles; even better, most show early success with wider audiences. “The Disaster Artist” expanded quickly in its second weekend to place #4 overall, while A24 had a second Top 10 hit again with “Lady Bird.” That film, coming off critics’ group wins, is thriving and easily the leader among fall releases so far. In fact, it already is the second-biggest specialized release of the year in only six weeks, trailing only “The Big Sick.”

“The Shape of Water” in a strong second weekend gives Fox Searchlight, similar to A24, its second breakout initial limited release along with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” The more limited “Call Me By Your Name,” though expanding more slowly, is showing strong interest.

Not reported here are one-week qualifying runs for the mostly acclaimed “Foxtrot,” which is playing for seven days in New York and Los Angeles.


I, Tonya (Neon) — Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Toronto, AFI 2017
$245,602 in 4 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $61,400

Excellent opening for this look at the infamous mid-’90s figure skating rivalry involving Tonya Harding. Opening in theaters already crowded with other top limited films, it’s getting good but not quite as ecstatic reviews as some other recent releases (though Margot Robbie is getting consistent praise). It’s an impressive breakout for Neon — even more so at short notice, since they acquired this three months ago at Toronto. (30 West partnered for the acquisition, reported for around $5 million, the biggest sale of the festival).

This had a nine percent Saturday increase, which suggests a good initial response. With all the strong films in play, it likely also saw the gross reduced a bit by limited seating with some sold-out shows. It’s a tough market at the moment, but the film hits its initial marks and then some.

What comes next: The major expansion will be January, where this could be a crossover success based on initial results.

"The Disaster Artist"

“The Disaster Artist”

Week Two

The Disaster Artist (A24)
$6,436,000 in 840 theaters (+821); PTA: $7,661; Cumulative: $8,032,000

James Franco’s homage to the making of cult film “The Room” made a major leap to a national result with strong results. At #4 overall, it’s the biggest single-weekend gross for any A24 title (past successes have included “Ex Machina” and “Spring Breakers,” as well as “Moonlight”) as well as their highest position in any Top 10.

Based on second-day results (down 17 percent, not unusual for a younger-appeal film with strong initial interest), this might not yet be a draw for important older specialized viewers. For now, it’s been a remarkable success with plenty of upside ahead.

The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight)
$1,100,000 in 41 theaters (+39); PTA: $26,829; Cumulative: $1,331,000

The second weekend of Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy monster romance, aided by its initial Los Angeles dates including Q&As at key theaters, finds it flying high. The numbers come in roughly just lower than the second weekend of Greta Gerwig’s breakout “Lady Bird” (which had far less competition and no pre-holiday doldrums to worry about), and about equal to “Manchester By the Sea.”

These are strong overall results, placing #1 at most of its theaters, including both in Los Angeles (the Arclight is heading to close to $200,000 for the weekend). Overall grosses went up a bit Saturday — not automatic with its younger appeal, and since del Toro’s strong fanbase comes out early.


Wonder Wheel

“Wonder Wheel”

Wonder Wheel (Amazon)

$155,805 in 47 theaters (+42); PTA: $3,315; Cumulative: $321,984

Woody Allen’s latest is struggling against competition as well as consensus mediocre reviews. At slightly more theaters, the per-theater gross is little more than 10 percent of “The Shape of Water” in its second-weekend expansion.

The Other Side of Hope (Janus)

$(est.) 27,000 in 17 theaters (+14); PTA: $(est.) 1,588; Cumulative: $(est.) 52,000

Finnish master Aki Kaurismaki’s latest added other top cities to marginal results as it continues to amass strong reviews.

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000)

Lady Bird (A24) Week 6
$3,547,000 in 1,557 theaters (+363); Cumulative: $22,331,000

After six weeks, this has already outgrossed all A24 initial limited-release titles, and will top its biggest success (“Moonlight,” $27.8 million) by Christmas. And with likely awards and nominations ahead, it should top that by a wide margin. This weekend also saw it outdo “Three Billboards,” which is also strong — but not as strong as this.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri””

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Fox Searchlight) Week 5 $2,860,000 in 1,620 theaters (+190); Cumulative: $18,310,000

Martin McDonagh’s Ozarks-set satirical drama continues to thrive. It is likely at its widest point, with enough heft to continue at many of its theaters through the lucrative holidays. Though it opened two weeks later, “Three Billboards” is already $4 million ahead of Fox Searchlight’s 2015 “Brooklyn.” That film made $14 million through its second December weekend, on its way to a $38 million total.

Darkest Hour (Focus) Week 3

$777,000 in 53 theaters (+49); Cumulative: $1,232,000

A credible showing for Joe Wright’s film about Churchill at the most crucial point of his political career. With its audience older and not as likely to come out as quickly as some other top titles, this looks to have a decent future ahead.

The Man Who Invented Christmas (Bleecker Street) Week 3
$687,381 in 720 theaters (+54); Cumulative: $4,325,000

What’s more seasonal than Ebenezer Scrooge? This hasn’t thrived in wider release, but more screens were added this week. Expect continued if lesser play in the weeks ahead.

Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3
$291,101 in nine theaters (+5); Cumulative: $1,372,000

The first expansion for Luca Guadagnino’s acclaimed ’80s Italy-set romance showed continued strength as a wider audience gets its initial exposure. Five additional theaters in New York and Los Angeles continued strong results. More top markets open by Christmas, with a wider rollout planned for mid-January.

Loving Vincent (Good Deed) Week 11
$137,574 in 120 theaters (-43); Cumulative: $5,770,000

This Polish origin animated film keeps adding to its already impressive totals.


“My Friend Dahmer”

My Friend Dahmer (FilmRise) Week 6
$130,000 in 110 theaters (+20); Cumulative: $1,129,000

The cannibal killer’s graphic novel adaptation continues to due steady niche business.

The Florida Project (A24) Week 10
$96,177 in 101 theaters (-19); Cumulative: $5,024,000

Sean Baker’s Orlando-set film continues to build awards momentum. Late in its run, it’s already more than $4 million better than his acclaimed “Tangerine.”


Also noted

Last Flag Flying (Lionsgate) – $47,000 in 85 theaters; Cumulative: $922,966

The Square (Magnolia) – $(est.) 45,000 in 42 theaters; Cumulative: $(est.) 1,038,000

Jane (Abramorama) – $42,901 in 42 theaters; Cumulative: $1,323,000

Victoria & Abdul (Focus) – $41,000 in 104 theaters; Cumulative: $22,125,000

Tom of Finland (Kino Lorber) – $28,600 in 11 theaters; Cumulative: $259,733

Novitiate (Sony Pictures Classics) – $23,699 in 90 theaters; Cumulative: $530,867

The Breadwinner (GKids) – $20,074 in 5 theaters; Cumulative: $153,181

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (Zeitgeist/Kino Lorber) – $19,500 in 5 theaters; Cumulative: $72,648

Thelma (The Orchard) – $17,784 in 40 theaters; Cumulative: $108,530

God’s Own Country (Goldwyn) – $12,079 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $279,620

Faces Places (Cohen) – $11,942 in 14 theaters; Cumulative: $541,422

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Sufjan Stevens Says ‘I, Tonya’ Didn’t Want His Tonya Harding Song, but You Can Listen to It Anyway


Sufjan Stevens contributed two highly acclaimed tunes to the “Call Me by Your Name” soundtrack, with both “Mystery of Love” and “Visions of Gideon” considered likely nominees for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. To hear the indie-rock icon tell it, he almost had another in the mix this fall: “Tonya Harding,” which, despite his efforts, bears no relation to “I, Tonya.”

Margot Robbie stars as the disgraced figure skater in Craig Gillespie’s biopic, which has earned strong reviews since premiering in Toronto and opens later this month. Stevens writes on his website that he’s “been trying to write a Tonya Harding song since I was 15” and that the final product is “not at all related to the new biopic” because he “sent it to the music supervisors but they couldn’t find a way to use it.”

Here are his full liner notes, which evince a deep love of Harding:

“I wrote a song for Tonya Harding. It’s not at all related to the new biopic (I sent it to the music supervisors but they couldn’t find a way to use it). This song has been years in the making. I’ve been trying to write a Tonya Harding song since I was 15. I wrote a short piece about it here. There are two versions of the song and we are releasing them on tape cassette (available now) and on 7-inch (available soonish). All digital versions are available now:


“Please enjoy. If you don’t know who Tonya Harding is, go see the movie, or read her Wikipedia page. She’s amazing. My prayer is peace on earth. Lord help us.

“I love you Tonya.”

Listen to the song below:

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