2014 Oscar Nominations Announced; AMERICAN HUSTLE and GRAVITY Lead with 10 Nominations Each [Updated with Commentary]

by     Posted 316 days ago

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The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards have been announced. American Hustle and Gravity lead with 10 nominations each, while 12 Years a Slave isn’t too far behind with 9 nominations.  Looking over my predictions, there weren’t actually too many surprises this morning–at least no genuine “snubs” on the scale of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow last year.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale made the Best Actor cut over Robert Redford and Tom HanksHer, Dallas Buyers Club, and Philomena all got Best Picture nominations over Saving Mr. Banks, and Sally Hawkins landed a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in Blue Jasmine, seemingly taking Oprah Winfrey‘s spot from Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  Also, the Academy apparently did not take a liking to Saving Mr. Banks, as the film missed out on a Best Picture nomination and a Best Actress nomination for Emma Thompson.

Hit the jump to take a look at the full nominations list.  The 86th Oscars will be broadcast March 2nd on ABC. [Update: I've added my commentary on some of the categories after the jump.]

75 Songs Eligible for Best Original Song Oscar Including Tracks from FROZEN, THE GREAT GATSBY, and ANCHORMAN 2

by     Posted 347 days ago

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After unveiling the list of scores that will be competing for the Best Original Score Oscar last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has now unveiled the list of 75 songs that are in contention for Best Original Song.  The fantastic “Let It Go” from Frozen is already an early favorite, and five songs are eligible from Baz Luhrmann’s music-heavy The Great Gatsby including “Young and Beautiful” by Lana del Rey and “Over the Love” by Florence and the Machine.  As for pleasant surprises, it would be most excellent to see the emotional rap “So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12 land a nomination.  Upcoming films that have eligible original songs include “Doby” from Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and “The Moon Song” from Her.

Hit the jump to check out the full list of songs eligible for the Best Original Song Oscar.  The 86th Academy Award nominations will be announced on January 16th, followed by the Oscar ceremony on March 2nd.

New to Blu-ray: FAST & FURIOUS 6, DOCTOR WHO: DAY OF THE DOCTOR, MARY POPPINS, and More

by     Posted 352 days ago

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Here’s a brief overview of this week’s new Blu-ray releases:

FROZEN and MONSTERS UNIVERSITY Lead 2013 Annie Awards with 10 Nominations Each

by     Posted 361 days ago

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The Annie Awards, which awards animation and not ginger orphans, have announced their 2013 nominations.  Leading the pack are Disney’s Frozen and Pixar’s Monsters University with each film picking up ten nominations.  The other nominees for Best Animated Feature are A Letter to Momo, Despicable Me 2, Ernest & Celestine, The Croods, and The Wind Rises.  Since all qualitative evaluations of art inevitably invite fury at snubs, I will rail against The Croods being nominated over Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Hit the jump for the full list of nominees.  Winners will be announced on February 1, 2014.

Oscar Beat: 19 Animated Features Submitted for 86th Academy Awards

by     Posted 1 year, 23 days ago

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19 animated feature films have been submitted for consideration for the 86th Annual Academy Awards, and it’s clear that this is a very thin year for the Best Animated Feature race.  Monsters University and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 feel like the biggest standouts, and while MU is certainly a strong effort from Pixar, it’s tough to imagine those two rousing the same kind of passion that previous nominees like How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3, or even ParaNorman instilled.  DreamWorks Animation has two contenders in the bunch with The Croods and Turbo, while Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2, Blue Sky’s Epic, and Disney’s Planes and Frozen are also eligible for nominations.  Hayao Miyazaki’s latest feature The Wind Rises is also among the submitted films.

Hit the jump to check out the full list of submitted features and for my early thoughts on the Best Animated Feature Oscar race.  The 86th Oscars will be held on March 2, 2014.  To catch up on all of our Oscar Beat coverage thus far, click here.

Weekend Box Office: THE WOLVERINE Claims First with $55 Million; Excellent Hold for THE CONJURING

by     Posted 1 year, 123 days ago

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As the only major studio release this weekend, it’s no shock to find The Wolverine in first place. With an estimated $55 million from 3,924 locations, the sixth entry in Fox’s X-Men franchise more than doubled the total of the second place The Conjuring but still managed to look a bit disappointing in the process.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  The Wolverine $55,000,000 $55
2.  The Conjuring $22,130,000 $83.8
3.  Despicable Me 2 $16,000,000 $306.3
4.  Turbo $13,325,000 $55.7
5.  Grown Ups 2 $11,500,000 $101.6
6.  Red 2 $9,400,000 $35
7.  Pacific Rim $7,540,000 $84
8.  The Heat $6,850,000 $141.2
9.  R.I.P.D. $5,900,000 $24.3
10.  Fruitvale Station $4,657,000 $6.3

Weekend Box Office: THE CONJURING Leads Crowded Field with $41.5 Million; R.I.P.D. Gets Buried

by     Posted 1 year, 130 days ago

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For years now, studios have used this weekend to launch some of summer’s biggest titles: The Dark Knight, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises. Left without a major marquee release for 2013, however, the box office instead hosted a handful of more marginal titles, including Turbo, Red 2 and R.I.P.D.  No surprise, then, that overall receipts were way down from 2012 or that only one film – The Conjuring – made a major impression.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  The Conjuring $41,530,000 $41.5
2.  Despicable Me 2 $25,100,000 $276.2
3.  Turbo $21,500,000 $31.2
4.  Grown Ups 2 $20,000,000 $79.5
5.  Red 2 $18,500,000 $18.5
6.  Pacific Rim $15,955,000 $68.2
7.  R.I.P.D. $12,760,000 $12.7
8.  The Heat $9,325,000 $129.2
9.  World War Z $5,200,000 $186.9
10.  Monsters University $5,005,000 $248.9

Weekend Box Office: DESPICABLE ME 2 Remains on Top; GROWN UPS 2 Beats PACIFIC RIM

by     Posted 1 year, 137 days ago

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This morning’s box office has a ‘good news, bad news’ kind of vibe. On the one hand, overall earnings were up significantly over 2012 thanks to the two sequels at the top of chart. The not-so-good news was for fans of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. With an estimated $38.3 million from 3,275 runs, the original action pic came in third behind Despicable Me 2 and Grown Ups 2.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Despicable Me 2 $44,754,000 $229.2
2.  Grown Ups 2 $42,500,000 $42.5
3.  Pacific Rim $38,300,000 $38.3
4.  The Heat $14,000,000 $112.3
5.  The Lone Ranger $11,140,000 $71.1
6.  Monsters University $10,621,000 $237.7
7.  World War Z $9,430,000 $177
8.  White House Down $6,150,000 $62.9
9.  Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain $5,000,000 $26.3
10.  Man of Steel $4,825,000 $280.9

Friday Box Office: PACIFIC RIM Falls to GROWN UPS 2

by     Posted 1 year, 138 days ago

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After a confusing day that saw the top three films shift almost hourly, Friday’s official estimates are out and Sony’s Grown Ups 2 is on top… for now. The sequel to 2010′s Grown Ups took in an estimated $16.3 million from 3,491 locations, including $2.3 million from Thursday pm previews. Grown Ups 2 was originally expected to match the $40 million debut of its predecessor, but tracking has now been upgraded to the $45 million range. At third on Friday, Despicable Me 2 is also expected to earn $45 million this weekend, indicating that the box office confusion is far from over.

For a case in point, look no further than Pacific Rim. For a time, the Guillermo del Toro feature was expected to take top honors yesterday. Instead, Pacific Rim placed second with an estimated $14.6 million from 3,275 runs. That includes $3.6 million from the film’s Thursday pm and midnight screenings – exactly what World War Z saw from its early previews. That was enough to send Pacific Rim‘s weekend projections soaring to $50 million or more at one point yesterday though, at the moment, tracking has it back to $37 million through Sunday. With Friday’s estimates so unsteady, there is no reason to expect tracking to improve this weekend but check back tomorrow for updated estimates and analysis.

 Title Friday Total
1.  Grown Ups 2 $16,300,000 $16.3
2.  Pacific Rim $14,620,000 $14.6
3.  Despicable Me 2 $13,400,000 $197.8
4.  The Heat $4,200,000 $102.5
5.  The Lone Ranger  $3,370,000 $63.3

Weekend Box Office: DESPICABLE ME 2 Leads July Fourth Frame; THE LONE RANGER Misfires

by     Posted 1 year, 144 days ago

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With both May and June setting new monthly records in 2013, July got off to a great start thanks to Despicable Me 2. The animated sequel earned an estimated $82.5 million from 3,957 locations this weekend – making it one of the highest Independence Day debuts of all time. The holiday was not as kind to The Lone Ranger. The Disney feature earned an estimated $29.4 million from 3,904 venues this weekend and just $48.9 million since opening on Wednesday – a disappointing number from any angle.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Despicable Me 2 $82,500,000 $142.1
2.  The Lone Ranger $29,430,000 $48.9
3.  The Heat $25,000,000 $86.3
4.  Monsters University $19,590,000 $216.1
5.  World War Z $18,200,000 $158.7
6.  White House Down $13,500,000 $50.4
7.  Man of Steel $11,415,000 $271.2
8.  Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain $10,100,000 $17.4
9.  This Is The End $5,800,000 $85.5
10.  Now You See Me $2,770,000 $110.4

Pharrell Williams Talks DESPICABLE ME 2, What Inspired Him to Take the Music to a Happier Place, His Creative Process, and More

by     Posted 1 year, 146 days ago

Grammy Award-winning artist Pharrell Williams reteams with composer Heitor Pereira to produce the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2, the sequel to the 2010 animated comedy adventure.  Williams wrote three memorable new songs for the movie:  “Happy” and “Just a Cloud Away” to complement the reprise of one of his songs from the first film, “Fun Fun Fun” and “Scream” which is performed by CeeLo Green.  The film stars Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, and Ken Jeong.

At the recent press day, Williams talked about what inspired him to write “Happy”and take audiences to a lighter place for the second film, why Gru is his favorite character, the philosophy behind his creative process, how he strives to produce colorful and original music, how he harmonizes his music with the filmmakers’ intentions to complement what’s happening on screen, why it’s challenging to put humor into the music, why working on this was a cool learning experience, how growing up in Virginia Beach influenced his music and development as an artist, and why this is a movie everyone will enjoy.  He also discussed the influence of The Neptunes and being parodied on Jimmy Kimmel Live.  Hit the jump to read the full interview.

Box Office: DESPICABLE ME 2 Grabs $34.3 Million on First Day; No Fireworks for THE LONE RANGER

by     Posted 1 year, 147 days ago

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Universal is celebrating a very happy July Fourth this morning, thanks to Despicable Me 2. The animated sequel earned an estimated $34.3 million on its opening day Wednesday – just a bit under the $35 million that The Amazing Spider-Man took in on its first day in 2012. From its 3,957 locations, Despicable Me 2 is now expected to take in as much as $155 million for its first five days, putting it between the Independence Day records of Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($162.6 million) and Spider-Man 2 ($152.4 million) before adjusting for inflation.

The news for Disney was not as joyful. The studio’s pricey adaptation of The Lone Ranger failed to make its mark – earning an estimated $9.66 million from 3,904 venues on Wednesday. The studio had expected to realize at least $65 million for the five-day holiday frame but, after its underwhelming opening, The Lone Ranger’s prospects have now been scaled back to $45 million or less.

Check back this weekend for more news on the holiday box office.

Writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio Talk DESPICABLE ME 2, Giving the Minions a Bigger Part, and Adding Romance

by     Posted 1 year, 148 days ago

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Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, the talented screenwriting duo behind the highly successful Despicable Me, reteam on Despicable Me 2 to bring to the big screen an all-new animated comedy adventure for audiences to enjoy.  Opening July 3rd, the sequel features the return of former super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable daughters, the lovable Minions, and a host of new and outrageously funny characters.  Paul and Daurio are the writing team responsible for penning the screenplays for The Lorax and Horton Hears a Who!, based on the Dr. Seuss children’s books, and also done in collaboration with producer Chris Meledandri.

At the film’s recent press day, Paul and Daurio talked about expanding on the first film while lightening the tone and introducing new themes and characters for the sequel; giving the Minions, the breakout characters of the first film, a much bigger part; showing Gru’s evolution from super-villain to super-dad as he leaves behind a life of crime to raise Margo, Edith and Agnes; drawing on their own experience as parents, such as dressing up as a Tusken Raider from Star Wars, for inspiration; creating a new Latino super-villain whose journey is similar to Gru’s; and adding some romance to the storyline.  Check out the interview after the jump.

DESPICABLE ME 2 Review

by     Posted 1 year, 149 days ago

The adorable minions stole the first Despicable Me, and the thinking for Despicable Me 2 must have been to give the little yellow guys the whole movie.  It’s an odd picture that technically has a protagonist and slightly builds off the first story, but nominal villain Gru (Steve Carell) is the least interesting part of the sequel, and his daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) have almost been completely pushed aside.  Rather than develop these characters, directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud apparently responded to fan reaction to the original film, and put the minions front-and-center.  It’s tough to complain when everything they do is funny, but it also makes Despicable Me 2 feel like a stopgap for next year’s minions spinoff.

Benjamin Bratt Talks DESPICABLE ME 2, Replacing Al Pacino, and CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2

by     Posted 1 year, 149 days ago

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Benjamin Bratt turns in a fantastic performance in his first animated feature, Despicable Me 2 directed by Chris Meledandri.  In the eagerly anticipated summer sequel, he voices two sides of the same character:  Eduardo, the charming owner of the popular Salsa & Salsa restaurant whose larger-than-life personality is dwarfed only by the size of his waistline, and El Macho, the most ruthless, dangerous and macho super-villain who ever villained.  Bratt’s character stands out among a host of new and outrageously funny characters in the hilarious comedy adventure opening July 3rd.

At the film’s recent press day, Bratt talked about replacing Al Pacino in the dual role, how he developed the voice for the character, what appealed to him about the first film and drew him to the sequel, how he found the role exciting, challenging and emancipating in a way he’d never experienced as a performer, why he’s now cool in the eyes of his kids, what it’s been like to go from drama to comedy to voicing characters in an animated film, how Modern Family helped expand the comedic possibilities of his career, his thoughts on the meaning of being manly, and his new film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, that’s coming out this fall.  Hit the jump to read the rest of the interview:

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