Box office: Sully soars high as the fall awards season begins


A tale of real-life heroism got the fall awards season off to a good start this week.

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Oscar winners slipping at the box office — 2014

americansniperI devoted posts to this subject in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013 — so here’s the post for 2014.

2005 marked the first time since 1996 that the Best Picture winner did not gross at least $100 million, the first time since 1985 that not one of the Best Picture nominees grossed at least $100 million, and the first time in living memory that the Oscar did not go to one of the Top 25 films in North America. In fact, the winner that year — Crash — grossed a mere $54.6 million and ranked way, way down at #49.

Ever since then, the Oscar for Best Picture has alternated between relatively big hits and somewhat smaller box-office performers. But that trend could end this year, as the Academy now seems poised to reward two small films in a row.

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Box-office update: Robots ride dinosaurs, some films do better than the buzz would suggest, and Noah leaves North American theatres (while enjoying its third week in Japan)

Life was too busy to post a box-office update last week, but that’s okay, I think, since not a lot was happening then.

The big story this week is that Transformers: Age of Extinction supposedly became the first film of the year to gross over $100 million in a single weekend (in North America, that is) — but that figure was quickly disputed by rival studios, who said the film actually came in just a tiny bit beneath that amount. Whatever. It was still pretty huge.

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Unforgiven, samurai remakes, and subverted Christ figures

Clint Eastwood shot to big-screen fame in a series of “spaghetti westerns”, the first of which, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), was based on a Japanese samurai flick called Yojimbo (1961). Now things are coming full circle, as Variety reports that a Japanese remake of Eastwood’s final western Unforgiven (1992) is now in the works.

The new film will be directed by Korean-Japanese filmmaker Lee Sang-il, and will star Ken Watanabe (best known in North America for his parts in such Hollywood films as The Last Samurai, Batman Begins and Inception) as a retired samurai modeled after the Eastwood character. Watanabe, incidentally, has actually worked with Eastwood himself already, having starred in Clint’s World War II movie Letters from Iwo Jima (2006).

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