January is traditionally the month when the studios release their weakest films and the first weekend after New Years is traditionally one of the softest of the year. So, if ever an adult western from with a slightly dark and offbeat cast to it could be the #1 movie in modern America, this would be the time. Still, it might be a game of inches as Paramount’s “True Grit” will be up against the declining but still popular “Little Fockers” from Universal and one major new wide release with limited prospects.
As per Box Office Mojo, “Season of the Witch” will be opening in over 2,800 theaters this weekend. It’s a blend of action and dark fantasy starring a downcast Nicolas Cage and the very cool Ron Perlman, who I had the pleasure of interviewing this week. If anyone reading my review thinks I’m being a bit hard on it, they should be aware that this film is probably one the worst reviewed films in some time, getting a terrible 3% “Fresh” from Rotten Tomatoes. However, a closer look shows that it’s not so much a film that everyone hates as a film that no one cares to recommend.
The creepy actioner is the maiden voyage as a distributor for Ryan Kavenaugh’s very busy mini-studio, Relativity Media, and it is expected to make as much $12 million or so according to THR’s Pamela McClintock (where are you jolly Carl DiOrio?) and Ben Fritz of the L.A. Times, though somewhat less seems entirely possible. What the film has going for it is a very low budget for an action flick these days, just $40 million.
Another entry, “Country Strong” is expanding to about 1,400 theaters this weekend, but hopes for this musical drama are modest indeed, though fans of country singer Tim McGraw and actress Gwenyth Paltrow should account for something. It’s going to be that kind of a weekend.
The Producers Guild and the Writers Guild, two-thirds of the three best known guilds in Hollywood, have announced their award nominations. If you’re in a hurry to see the actual contenders, they’re all after the flip below. The Directors Guild list will be along next week.
There aren’t any major shocks and mostly what they do is solidify the already leading contenders for the big Kahuna of awards with the bald head and the sword where his genitals should be (thank you, Dustin Hoffman!). If you’ve been following this at all, you can probably guess which films are getting the nods.
Still, there are some interesting differences in the Writer’s Guild awards, but it has to be said that’s likely because a few major contenders were ruled as ineligible under that organization’s rules — their awards are intended not to honor the best writing, per se, but the best writing done under WGA aegis. You could call that counterproductive, but just try an argue with a writer. I guess it’s not too surprising that a British film like “The King’s Speech” might not fit as I’m sure England has its own organizations for writers, but I have no clue why the 100% American originated “Toy Story 3” wouldn’t be written under the Writer’s Guild jurisdiction. (It’s not because it’s animated. Other movies excluded include the highly acclaimed indie, “Winter’s Bone,” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”)
Meanwhile, on the producers’ side, there’s been the usual controversy about the eligibility not of films but of the people credited as producing them. Nikki Finke covers the fact that Relativity honcho Ryan Kavenaugh — quickly becoming perhaps the most written about exec in town — was ruled ineligable for “The Fighter” despite being very much involved in the production. The problem, of course, is that at least everyone knows what a writer does. “Producing” a movie can mean almost anything from putting up the cash, to owning the rights to a property, to having the correct spouse.
The film nominations are after the flip. For the voluminous TV nominations for each group, just click on the links for the complete list.
Continue reading »