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April 30, 2017

This Was the Worst Box Office of 2017 — But ‘How to Be a Latin Lover’ and ‘Baahubali 2’ Were Amazing

This weekend was the nadir of a what has become a bipolar year at the box office, but it comes with an amazing, if unsettling sidelight: Mass audience fare is no longer guaranteed, even with top stars and well-known IP.

How to Be a Latin Lover” (Lionsgate) and “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” (from previously unheralded Great India) ranked second and third, both over $10 million. Those are grosses better than not only STX’s “The Circle” (which had the benefit of Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, and is based on Dave Eggers’ novel) but also better than any new release on the same weekend last year. Studios concede the weekend before the new Marvel release in early April, but that’s also an opportunity that two smart distributors recognized.

That left “The Fate of the Furious” (Universal) as the default #1 again. $19 million for a third weekend, and $192 million total, is strong for any film — except in comparison to its performance in the rest of the world.

One other title of note. High-flying Blumhouse Prods.’ “Sleight,” acquired out of Sundance 2016, grossed only $1.7 million in 565 theaters via BH Tilt. It actually had the best reviews of any new studio or studio-adjacent film this week, but for once the Blumhouse magic didn’t transpire.

Jacob Latimore, Alex Theurer, Sean Tabibian, JD Dillard, Dulé Hill and Seychelle Gabriel, Eric B Fleischman

Jacob Latimore, Alex Theurer, Sean Tabibian, JD Dillard, Dulé Hill and Seychelle Gabriel, and Eric B Fleischman of “Sleight”

Daniel Bergeron

The Top Ten

1. The Fate of the Furious (Universal) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$19,340,000 (-49%) in 4,077 theaters (-252); PTA (per theater average): $4,756; Cumulative: $293,721,000

2. How to Be a Latin Lover (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore:; Metacritic: 53; Est. budget: $

$12,019,000 in 1,118 theaters; PTA: $10,750; Cumulative: $12,019,000

3. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (Great India 2) NEW – Est. budger: $39 million

$10,138,000 in 405 theaters; PTA: $23,855; Cumulative: $10,138,000

4. The Circle (STX) NEW – Cinemascore:; Metacritic: 43; Est. budget: $18 million

$9,320,000 in 3,163 theaters; PTA: $2,947; Cumulative: $9,320,000

5. The Boss Baby (20th Century Fox) Week 5; Last weekend #2

$9,050,000 (-29%) in 3,792 theaters (+42); PTA: $2,420 Cumulative: $9,050,000

6. Beauty and the Beast (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend #3

$9,050,000 (-34%) in 3,155 theaters (-160); PTA: $; Cumulative: $480,100,000

7. Going in Style (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last weekend #4

$6,400,000 (-27%) in 2,761 theaters (-277); PTA: $2,029; Cumulative: $37,320,000

8. Smurfs: The Lost Village (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #6

$3,315,000 (-32%) in 2,554 theaters (-183); PTA: $1,298; Cumulative: $37,735,000

9. Gifted (Fox Searchlight) Week 4; Last weekend #6

$3,300,000 (-28%) in 2,215 theaters (+229); PTA: $1,490; Cumulative: $15,830,000

10. Unforgettable (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #7

$2,345,000 (-51%) in 2,417 theaters (no change); PTA: $970; Cumulative: $8,840,000

"Baahubali 2: The Conclusion"

“Baahubali 2: The Conclusion”

The Takeaways

Many Theaters Reaching Limbo Levels

Next weekend with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (Disney), the earth should tilt back its normal axis with its expected $150 million or better opening next weekend. The latest Marvel entry already opened in about 60 percent of the world (though not yet China or Japan) with a strong initial haul of around $100 million.

That might undo some of the carnage of this weekend, but the weakness of “The Circle” as the sole wide opener can’t be overlooked. Its failure to out gross two very niche audience films despite its access to twice as many theaters as “How to Be a Latin Lover” (Lionsgate) and “Baahubali 2” (Great India) showed that some audiences will stick flock to certain movies.

Two sleepers targeted for ethnic audiences couldn’t keep the Top Ten from coming in as the worst of this year so far. At $79 million, it was 20 percent worst than last year. But without “Latin Lover” and “Baahulabi 2,” it would have come to barely more than $60 million. That would have been close to panic time for theaters. As it is, the riches from the Latino and Indian audiences were unevenly spread so that many theaters had bottom-level results.

The Stellar Achievements of “How to Be a Latin Lover” and “Baahulabi 2”

A rare growth market in American theaters in recent years has been Spanish-language and Indian films. Usually shown in multi-hundred rather than wider releases, grossing sometimes in their first weekend enough to climb into or come close to the Top 10, they increasingly demand attention from discerning movie chains.  This weekend shows they can not only hold their own, but can also thrive.

In retrospect, “Latin Lover” $12 million victory in its 1,118 theaters was predictable. Star Eugenio Derbez, well known in Mexico, already had a breakout success with “Instructions Not Included” in 2013. That opened in 348 theaters to $7.8 million, then expanded to twice as many and ultimately $44 million. That made it among the best-grossing Mexican (and Spanish-language) domestic releases ever.

This Pantelion production opened in triple the theaters, and had a bigger budget (though not officially revealed) and a more American slant (it’s set in California, and bilingual) to widen its appeal.

Still, the core audience was Latino. This group is far more loyal to movies in theaters than most, and critical mass has now reached the point that it could open better than many studio releases.

Top Indian films have international releases not only because of its wide diaspora but also from fears of rampant piracy with delays. Still, the $10 million realized by “Baahubali 2” in one weekend — the best opening of any Indian studio release ever.

This nearly $40 million production (sky high for India) is a sequel, which gave this heft. It’s an epic, and the smartly chosen date gave it access to IMAX theaters. That accounted for $1.8 million of the gross in only 66 locations.

This is exciting for theaters finding supplemental and needed revenue. But it also reinforces the increasingly international nature of the business and the decline of more conventional, non-event releases like “The Circle.”

“The Circle”

“The Circle” Is Broken

This film also had foreign roots (it comes from French-based EuropaCorp, now releasing through STX) with financing from the United Arab Emirates. But it is otherwise mainstream America: Dave Eggers is a strong fiction brand, and its dystopian tale is California set. And Tom Hanks (in a rare bad-guy role) is protypically domestic.

But the main draw here was supposed to be Emma Watson, coming off “Beauty and the Beast.” It may be no one could have carried this, much less an actress with more period than contemporary appeal. Audiences hated it; its D+ Cinemascore is nearly as bad as it gets. It also was the worst reviewed of the week’s releases.

Still, the bottom is falling out. With little competition at many theaters, the results were a worst-case scenario. A long production delay and an already dated storyline about internet privacy might have hurt, but it shows the risk from a standalone project with less-than-guaranteed international appeal. It will count as a strike against similar films.


Fifth to ninth places were taken by five holdovers that fell 34 percent or less, all solid performances. As usual, they were helped by less than normal competition. “Going in Style” continues to defy its initial impression, with the best hold (down only 27 percent) with an unexpected $50 million now likely. “The Boss Baby” continues to thrive, down 29 percent. “Gifted” was helped by additional theaters, with Fox Searchlight’s hearttugger at $16 million and headed for more. Kids and families kept “Smurfs: The Lost Village” and “Beauty and the Beast” to modest drops.

Not the fate for “Unforgettable,” which saw a second weekend drop of 51 percent, sealing the fate of the Katherine Heigl-Rosario Dawson thriller. The biggest disappointment, though, is “Born in China” (Disney) which dropped out of the Top Ten. Similar nature docs have usually sustained a much higher interest.


Source: IndieWire film

April 30, 2017

How Jonathan Demme Broke the Fourth Wall to Create ‘Real Cinema’

Having characters break the fourth wall is a rare occurrence for most directors, but for Jonathan Demme, it was kind of his thing.

When Jonathan Demme passed away less than a week ago, he left behind a lasting legacy of brilliant films. From Silence of the Lambs to Rachel Getting Married, the director managed to access the inner turmoil of his characters by visually representing them in powerful and striking ways, and one of his most notable tools for this was the close up, more specifically, the close up in which characters would look into the camera.

In this short tribute to the late Academy Award-winning director, Nelson Carvajal highlights Demme’s affinity for breaking the fourth wall, allowing characters to peer right into the audience’s eyes and forcing the audience to peer right into theirs.

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Source: NoFilmSchool

April 30, 2017

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Fonda and More Take Part in the Climate March

In what’s become a semi-weekly tradition, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in protest of the Trump administration and its policies yesterday. The People’s Climate March took place in Washington, D.C. and several other cities, counting several celebrities among its high-profile supporters and attendees: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Fonda, Kerry Washington, Jared Leto. All of them had something to say about it.

READ MORE: ‘Before the Flood’: Watch Leonardo DiCaprio’s Climate Change Documentary Now for Free

DiCaprio has long been vocal about the urgency of combating climate change — other than acting and dating supermodels, you might say it’s his raison d’être — and has produced the documentaries “Before the Flood” and “The 11th Hour.” “Honored to join Indigenous leaders and native peoples as they fight for climate justice,” he tweeted yesterday. “Join me in standing with them.”

READ MORE: ‘The Ivory Game’ Trailer: Leonardo DiCaprio–Produced Doc Is a Shocking Look at Elephant Poaching

The Environmental Protection Agency removed all data about climate change from its website yesterday, and Scott Pruitt, who heads the EPA, has said that the science is “far from settled.” Here are more tweets from yesterday’s event:






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Source: IndieWire film

April 30, 2017

‘A Dark Song’ Review: A Feature-Length Seance Digs Out the Ouija Board Very, Very Slowly

Sometimes it isn’t the house that’s haunted; it’s the people inside. That’s certainly the case for “A Dark Song;” in writer-director Liam Gavin’s debut, a woman is so grief-stricken that she subjects herself to what might be the most arduous, drawn-out séance ever captured onscreen. Called the Ambramelin, this obscure ceremony is almost as stressful to observe as it is to enact — Gavin wants us to feel the mental, physical, and spiritual toll it takes on those desperate enough to invoke it.

Intially it’s unclear exactly what the Ambramelin might be, but it’s clear the prep involves much more than digging out the Ouija board. In anticipation, Sophia (Catherine Walker) spent nearly half a year abstaining from all sex and following a strict diet. Lately she’s only been allowed to eat between dusk and dawn; for the next few days, she’ll fast entirely. 

Soon we learn that Sophia is attempting to contact her dead child, although the circumstances of his death remain opaque. That revelation is what persuaded a reluctant and deeply unpleasant spiritualist named Joseph (Steve Oram) to take up her cause; an offer of £80,000 apparently wasn’t enough.

READ MORE: ‘The Circle’ Review: Tom Hanks and Emma Watson Star In a Misguided Story of Technology Gone Wrong — Tribeca 2017

Initially, Joseph is as skeptical about the prospect of communing with spirits as viewers might be. “I’ve done this three times,” he tells Sophia. “Once it worked, twice it didn’t.” As he pours a salt border around the remote house she’s rented in Wales, he informs his employer that there’s no turning back now.

Séances are rarely given such serious treatment on film. (For what it’s worth, the invention of the Abramelin and its demand for intricate, long-term preparation is credited to 14th-century Egyptian magician Abra-Melin.) It makes sense that if there could be a kind of pact between the dead and the living, it wouldn’t be taken lightly. Like a binding contract, the Abramelin must be carried out by someone of sound body and mind — a tricky proposition, given that the bereaved would be a prime target audience. Taking place in stages over six days and demanding an ascetic routine that initially includes the denial of food and water, the process seals off the secluded country estate from the outside world in more ways than one.

 “A Dark Song” attempts to carve out a space for itself in the space between belief and doubt, superstition and knowledge. “Science describes the least of things,” Joseph says. “The least of what something is.” Oram makes this figure as detestable as he is knowledgeable, a last-resort guide who cares not for Sophia’s plight. His allegiances are to the Abramelin and himself, not necessarily in that order. 

READ MORE: ‘Awake, A Dream From Standing Rock’ Is A Lesson in Resistance For the Rest of Us — Tribeca Review

Like most films that gesture toward the supernatural, “A Dark Song” fares better at raising questions than answers. Hearing strange noises emanating from other rooms (if not other dimensions) is almost always more terrifying than seeing what’s actually causing the ruckus.

Whether this is consistent with its own logic remains something of a mystery, given how much of his occult knowledge Joseph keeps on a need-to-know basis. As “A Dark Song” builds toward its crescendo, individual notes matter less than the dissonant composition they come together to form. The effect is somewhere between a Gregorian chant and a sunn O))) song, as unsettling as it is compelling.

Grade: B

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Source: IndieWire film

April 30, 2017

Zosia Mamet Moves Beyond ‘Girls,’ But the Result is Disappointing With ‘The Boy Downstairs’ — Tribeca Review

One of the more high-class problems is struggling to break free of an iconic role that made you a star in the first place. Such is the challenge facing Zosia Mamet, whom most people know only as the high-strung Shoshanna on HBO’s “Girls.” If Shoshanna was the Miranda of her day (as many have said when comparing “Girls” to its predecessor, “Sex and the City”), Mamet has the best chance of the “Girls” crew to have a lasting career. Tony winner Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda, lands plum film roles such as Emily Dickinson in Terence Davies’ “A Quiet Passion,” and is currently starring on Broadway opposite Laura Linney in the revival of Lillian Hellman’s “Little Foxes.” However, if Mamet aspires to such heights, she must choose better projects than “The Boy Downstairs.”

The debut feature from writer/director Sophie Brooks, “The Boy Downstairs” grinds a smart concept and structure into the ground with inconsequential results. Mamet plays Diana, an aspiring writer who has recently returned to New York from a graduate program in London. After moving into her dream apartment in a charming Brooklyn brownstone, Diana is shocked to find the name of her teddy bear of an ex boyfriend, Ben (Matthew Shear), on the mailbox of the basement apartment.

READ MORE: ‘The Circle’ Review: Tom Hanks and Emma Watson Star In a Misguided Story of Technology Gone Wrong — Tribeca 2017

Her awkward attempts to befriend him don’t go so well, as Ben is clearly not as amused as she is by the unfortunate coincidence. Advising Diana are her widowed landlady, Amy (Deirdre O’Connell), and her sketch of a best friend, Gabby (Diana Irvine). Amy used to be an actress, and urges Diana to go for her dreams, while Gabby is either looking for casual sex or a boyfriend; she doesn’t really know, and neither does the movie. The plot hits all of its notes via flashbacks; the film opens with Ben and Diana’s final tearful goodbye, and chronicles their six-month courtship from would-be charming gallery dates and trips upstate to meet the parents.

“The Boy Downstairs” is best when Brooks juxtaposes the devolution of the first relationship with its potential rekindling. Just as Diana breaks younger Ben’s heart, the pair have an impromptu date at “a great Italian place just around the corner.” (If Brooks is actively courting cliche, she does it well.)

Though Brooks exhibits a command of storytelling structure, “The Boy Downstairs” suffers from an utter lack of point of view and comedic voice. Billed as a comedy, the only people laughing are the characters, at themselves. Witty banter isn’t the mention of LSD, nor is comedy making a character do aerobics with their landlady. Shear squeezes more charm out of his character than Mamet, though she has the harder task. Noah Baumbach fans will recognize Shear from “Mistress America,” co-written by Greta Gerwig, and he will soon appear in Baumbach’s Cannes-bound “The Meyerowitz Stories” and Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs.” Shear’s puppy-dog demeanor and unconventional good looks are a bright spot.

READ MORE: How a 20-Year-Old Filmmaker Wrote, Directed and Starred In Her Feature Directorial Debut — Tribeca 2017

While both are talented actors, Brooks did herself no favors by their casting as it invites comparison to Dunham, Baumbach, and Gerwig. Unfortunately, “The Boy Downstairs” only shares the most tiring and directionless parts suggested by that trio, and none of their humorous charm or tortured soul. In the only thing that could pass for a moment of reckoning, Diana tells Amy through sobs: “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Not only do Dunham, Gerwig, and Baumbach know how to make their existential crises funny, but you also believe in their pain.

Mamet does prove one thing about “Girls”: Dunham is a much better writer than people give her credit. Without a clearly drawn character, Mamet is lost onscreen. As the daughter of David Mamet, arguably the greatest living American playwright, she should have known: An actor is nothing without good material.

Grade: C-

“The Boy Downstairs” premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. 

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Source: IndieWire film

April 30, 2017

Watch: The Childhood Whimsy of Wes Anderson

How do the children in director Wes Anderson’s films always seem more grown up than the grown ups?

One thing you might immediately recognize about Wes Anderson’s work is the visual style: anamorphic lenses, symmetry, pastel color palettes that seem to have been sourced from a 1960s fashion catalogue. The cinematography, music, set design, and costuming in all of his films remind us of childhood, a time when life was simpler, but the narrative content is really anything but.

Instead, the stories Anderson tells touch on heavier “adult” topics, like death, failure, and fear, which creates a unique mixture of what is youthful and innocent with what is old and jaded. This aspect of the director’s work is explored in this Fandor video essay by Philip Brubaker, which shines a light on how Anderson uses certain cinematic tools to create whimsically melancholic worlds that exist in an ageless realm.

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Source: NoFilmSchool

April 30, 2017

Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Waters and More Read ‘Moby-Dick’ in Its Entirety — Listen

Call me Ishmael. Or Tilda, or Benedict, or any number of other names, really, as Plymouth University has completed its “Moby-Dick Big Read,” an audiobook version of Herman Melville’s whale of a novel. All 135 chapters are read by a different voice, including Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Waters, Stephen Fry, Sir David Attenborough and David Cameron.

READ MORE: White House Correspondents’ Dinner 2017: Hasan Minhaj Eviscerates Donald Trump and Those Covering Him — Watch

Launched in 2011, the project is based on the idea that “Moby-Dick” is not only “the great American novel” — it’s also “the great unread American novel.” Angela Cockayne and Philip Hoare describe the Big Read as “an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.”

READ MORE: ‘Reservoir Dogs’ Reunion: Quentin Tarantino Says Wes Craven Walked Out of His Mafioso Masterpiece

The book, which more than lives up to its prodigious reputation, has been adapted for film several times; most recently (and forgettably), it served as the inspiration for Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea.”

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Source: IndieWire film

April 30, 2017

Watch: How Architecture Affects the Look and Feel of a Film

“We shape our buildings; therefore they shape us.” -Winston Churchill

Unless you’re an architecture aficionado, or at the very least an admirer of pretty buildings, you may not pay a whole lot of attention to the actual design of the structures you’re planning to include in your film. Not that I blame you; it’s easy to “go with what’s there” and train your focus more on cinematic elements you might think are more important, like performances, cinematography, and story. But the architecture of cinema’s most famous constructions, whether real, CGI, or miniature, tell stories that lines of dialog and framing simply cannot. Check out this great supercut by Jorge Luengo Ruiz and you’ll see what I mean.

Big budget Hollywood blockbusters have all the fun when it comes to location scouting. Need to shoot a scene at the beautiful Bellagio? No problem. Want to capture your protagonist bobbing and weaving through the crowded Santa Monica Pier? You got it.

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Source: NoFilmSchool

April 29, 2017

Is Acer’s New 31.5″ 4K Display a Dream Monitor for Film Editors?

With a long list of desirable features, editors will definitely want to take a look at Acer’s new display.

At its Next@Acer event in New York City, Acer unveiled a striking new display that will definitely pique the interest of many video editors. And really, it should, because the 31.5″ ProDesign monitor was designed with image editors in mind, including photographers, graphic designers, and video/film editors.

The LCD display measures in at 31.5″ and is capable of 550 nits at 4K resolution—translation: big, bright, clear screen. “Enhanced color gamut” supports 130% of the sRGB and 95% of the DCI-P3 color spaces in 8 bits. It has a response time of 4 milliseconds with a 100 million to 1 contrast ratio.

When it comes to connectivity, Acer’s new display includes two HDMI 2.0 ports, audio out, a DisplayPort 1.2, a USB 3.1 Type C input, and four USB 3.1 Type C outputs that are not only suitable for peripherals, but are capable of power delivery of up to 85W—a great feature because, as AppleInsider says,

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Source: NoFilmSchool

April 29, 2017

A Complete Guide to Lighting, Shooting, and Editing a Cooking Video

How do filmmakers manage to make food look so good on-camera?

Maybe your dream is to work on a cooking show. Maybe you want to start your own Tasty-style channel on YouTube. Maybe you’re just a filmmaker who is super obsessed with food. Whatever your situation might be, Filmora wants to show you the techniques professionals use to get delicious dishes looking so damn good. In their Food Series, you get to learn many different cinematic techniques, including how to light, shoot, and edit your footage to not only make your food look amazing, but to also make your cooking videos entertaining to watch. Check out the series intro below:


The first lesson goes over lighting and how to build a two-light setup that makes your food look appetizing as well as stylish. This is a great tutorial for those who may not have a whole lot of lights to work with, but still want their work to look professional and put together.

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Source: NoFilmSchool