FEINBERG FORECAST: The Field Is Set Save for Four Oscar Hopefuls That Have Yet to Screen
Every week until the 86th Oscars on March 2, 2014, The Hollywood Reporter's lead awards analyst, Scott Feinberg, will post an updated "Feinberg Forecast," wherein he presents a summary of developments since the last update that helped to shape this one and then lists his revised projections. For more about Feinberg and how he arrives at his projections, scroll to the bottom of this post.
- Screening notes: Universal's Lone Survivor was unveiled at a special screening on Oct. 30, which was followed by an emotional Tina Brown-moderated Q&A with producer-star Mark Wahlberg, costar Taylor Kitsch, director Peter Berg and the real-life inspiration for Wahlberg's character, Marcus Luttrell. I was out of the state and therefore unable to attend but, having seen the film some months ago, I am not at all surprised that many are calling it one of the most realistic war movies they have ever seen -- which could end up working for it (some Academy members will cheer its authentic portrait of present-day combat) and against it (others will struggle with its relentless and gruesome violence). The film will have its official world premiere at the AFI Fest on Nov. 12, at which time it may become a little easier to get a read on its prospects for the remainder of the season.
- Box office: Summit's sci-fi epic Ender's Game debuted to $28 million in ticket sales this weekend, topping the box-office standings. It was followed by last weekend's topper, Paramount's Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which took in $20.5 million, and two newcomers, CBS Films' Last Vegas and Relativity Media's Free Birds at $16.5 million and $16.2 million, respectively. As for Oscar hopefuls now in theaters, Warner Bros. Gravity, in its fifth weekend, grossed $13.1 million (bringing its North American total to $219.2 million), good enough for fifth place, while Sony's Captain Phillips, in its fourth weekend, grossed $8.5 million (bringing its North American total to $82.6 million), placing sixth. Fox Searchlight's 12 Years a Slave, generated $4.6 million in sales from just 410 locations (up from 123 last weekend), making for an impressive $11,220 per-theater-average. But the top p-t-a belonged to Focus Features' newcomer Dallas Buyers Club, which hauled in $264,000 from nine locations, which averages out to $29,333 per. Considerably less successful was EOne's poorly-reviewed Princess Diana biopic Diana, which tanked in its first weekend, taking in just $64,900 from 38 locations, or just 1,708 per.
- Announcements: The AFI Fest announced that it will host a special tribute to American Hustle writer-director David O. Russell on Nov. 8, which has prompted speculation that Hustle might receive a sneak screening on that night, as well. (Russell's 2010 film The Fighter received a sneak screening at the fest three years ago.) ... Netflix scored some major Emmy noms just a few months ago for another politically-themed project, House of Cards. Might they crack the Oscar race next? The streaming service has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to The Square, the best documentary Oscar hopeful about the ongoing political turmoil in Egypt that I have been projecting as the category's frontrunner for several weeks now. ... Oscar winner Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) endorsed and agreed to "present" Morocco's best foreign language Oscar submission, Horses of God -- prompting me to dissect the explosion of big-name filmmakers "presenting" others' awards hopefuls.
- Precursors: The International Documentary Association revealed its nominees for the 29th annual IDA Awards. Zeitgeist Films' Let the Fire Burn, a found-footage doc about a 1985 cops-versus-radicals incident, received a field-leading four IDA Award noms, including one for best doc feature. That category's other nominees are Drafthouse Films' The Act of Killing, Magnolia Pictures' Blackfish (which has been getting a lot of attention on CNN lately), Participant Media's The Square and Roadside Attractions' Stories We Tell. The IDA Awards will be presented on Dec. 6.
- Moments in the spotlight: On Nov. 2, DreamWorks Animation hosted a reception at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills for its best animated feature Oscar hopeful The Croods, which was attended by the studio's CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and the film's directors Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco, producers Kristine Belson and Jane Hartwell and sound designer Randy Thom. ... The best supporting actor Oscar race looks like it may come down to 12 Years a Slave's Michael Fassbender and Dallas Buyers Club's Jared Leto. Fassbender has ruled out Oscar campaigning for himself; Leto, meanwhile, has largely left it to his industry friends: Darren Aronofsky (his Requiem for a Dream director), Maria Bello, Peter Bogdonovich, Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley, Zoe Saldana, Uma Thurman, Marisa Tomei and Reese Witherspoon have all hosted Dallas Buyers screenings in his honor. ... On Nov. 2, James Franco, a long-shot best supporting actor Oscar hopeful for his portrayal of a white gansta named Alien in Spring Breakers, penned a blog post for VICE in which he asserts, "There will never be a movie or a character that is more important for this age than Spring Breakers and its protagonist Alien." Just the latest weird twist in the weirdest Oscar campaign of the season. ... On Oct. 26, at the annual Visual Effects Society summit, former Academy president Hawk Koch and current Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs seemed to endorse the idea that the Academy should consider adding a new category to deal with films that blur the lines between blurs animation, cinematography and visual effects, like this year's Oscar hopeful Gravity. Isaacs acknowledged, "Many members were confused between the Oscars for cinematography and visual effects on Life of Pi. We will be discussing the differences that have been made with these advancements." Koch suggested that a prospective new all-encompassing category might be called "visual imaging."