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Oscar Watching: Moving MONUMENTS

Surprise: Another film we thought would contend for Oscars this year got bumped to next year, as Sony moved The Monuments Men to 2014. Apparently there wasn’t enough time to finish the visual effects. This move might give the distributor’s upcoming American Hustle more room to breathe. Monuments director George Clooney says the film will now arrive in February, but a new date has yet to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, Paramount will release The Wolf of Wall Street before the end of the year. The distributor already has a major contender in Nebraska, but Oscar voters won’t shut out Martin Scorsese, will they?

Sandra Bullock checks to see that no one’s coming for her throne.

At the Box Office…

Only the Oscar contenders can brag about their box-office performances this weekend. Space-set thriller Gravity was the number one film in the U.S. for a third consecutive weekend, with around $29.3 million. In just three weekends, the film pulls in around $170 million, making it the tenth-highest grossing film of the year in the U.S. The second-highest gross among major Oscar contenders? Lee Daniels’ The Butler at number 20 with around $114.3 million. Also, Captain Phillips pulled in $16.9 million in its second weekend for an impressive $52.4 million total so far.

In limited release, 12 Years a Slave scored $923,715 from 19 screens, making for a strong $48,617 per-screen average. Fox Searchlight will expand the film to 100 more locations this weekend, not risking to give the film such a quick wide release. (Remember The Master last year?) Robert Redford-led All is Lost came away with a lackluster $93,583 from six locations. The film hits more major markets this weekend, but has the damage already been done?

Meanwhile, new nationwide releases disappointed. Box-office forecasters expected Carrie to open with $22 to $24 million, but the remake made $16.1 million. That and middling reviews throw Julianne Moore, who once looked like a supporting actress contender for her terrific performance, out of the Oscar conversation (and against a wall if the film’s protagonist has her way). The Arnold Schwarzenegger- and Sylvester Stallone-led Escape Plan opened to $9.9 million.

With weak marketing and even weaker reviews, The Fifth Estate bombed with around $1.7 million, not to mention a $946 per-theater average. That’s less than half of the already-low $5 million forecasters expected and less than what Enough Said, in its fifth weekend and on only 757 screens, made.

The top 10 and placement of 12 Years and All is Lost, via Box Office Mojo:

1. Gravity
2. Captain Phillips
3. Carrie
4. Escape Plan
5. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
6. Prisoners
7. Enough Said
8. The Fifth Estate
9. Runner Runner
10. Insidious Chapter 2

16. 12 Years a Slave
38. All is Lost

The Counselor and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa arrive in theaters across the U.S. this weekend. The latter is an Oscar nonstarter, as you most likely assumed already. The former looked like an Oscar-friendly thriller, but Fox might put more weight behind The Book Thief and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Can critics bring The Counselor back into the conversation – at least for Javier BardemCameron Diaz, and screenwriter Cormac McCarthy? The love-it-or-hate-it response suggests trouble. Also, Palme d’Or winner Blue is the Warmest Color, starring best actress contender Adèle Exarchopoulos, hits four screens.

So, yeah, expect Gravity to spend an impressive fourth weekend atop the U.S. box office.

Fests and Campaigns

Saving Mr. Banks closed out the BFI London Film Festival to good notices, particularly strong raves for Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. Hanks gets a huge boost in the supporting actor race for also having Captain Phillips in his arsenal. Thompson, meanwhile, scored better reviews than she’s had in years, so she’s a best actress threat. It seems I may have been wrong about the Disney-making-a-movie-about-a-Disney-movie factor eradicating its Oscar hopes, but its awards potential remains a mystery to me – unless we’re talking about the musical or comedy categories at the Golden Globes.

Check out my Oscar predictions on the next page. Feel free to chime in with a comment.

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The Author

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.