Taking a cue from Octavia Spencer, both Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams have bought out screenings of Hidden Figures at movie theaters in Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Washington D.C. on Sunday. Spencer paid for a free screening of the critically-acclaimed film earlier this month, saying that her own mother would not have been able to afford to take her and her siblings.
Henson, who plays the lead role as NASA physicist and mathematician Katherine Johnson, was inspired to do the same in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, and of course, her hometown of Washington D.C. On Instagram, she said she was moved by Spencer and “similar actions taken by so many of YOU across the country.” Anonymous donors have been buying out whole screenings.
According to Shadow and Act, Kino Lorber, which for years has specialized exclusively in silent, foreign and independent films, has made a deal with MGM/Fox to release older United Artists titles from the 50’s to the 70’s in new Blu-ray remastered discs, starting in late summer. In September, Kino will be releasing the 1972 heist drama “Across 110th Street” starring Yaphet Kotto, Anthony Franciosa and Anthony Quinn.
Considered one of the best films of the famed “blaxploitation” movie era, “Across 110th Street” has influenced filmmakers such as “American Gangster” director Ridley Scott, and Quentin Tarantino, who included the title track from this movie in his homage to this era of filmmaking, “Jackie Brown.” To learn more about the movie, clickhere.
The Kevin Hart/Ice Cube film Ride Along arrived in first place at the weekend box office. The buddy cop comedy debuted with $41.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. The strong opening for Ride Along marks the biggest debut for a film released during Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend and puts it on track to top the $40.1 million record set by the 2008 monster movie Cloverfield for the biggest opening of January.
Ride Along is the first starring role for Hart, whose box-office status has been on the rise since the success of his 2013 stand-up film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain and memorable roles in such movies as Think Like a Man, This Is the End and Grudge Match. “He’s everywhere it seems,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. “I know he was co-starring with Ice Cube in Ride Along, but this really was marketed as a Kevin Hart movie. There’s no question he’s a movie star now who doesn’t require any qualifications before his name.”
Although Thor: The Dark World hung on to the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend, the big story was a stellar opening for The Best Man Holiday, which trounced all expectations to debut with a studio-estimated $30.6-million. Disney’s 3-D sequel Thor: the Dark World took in a solid $38.5-million, which represented an expected 55% drop from its opening weekend when it grossed $86 million.
The Best Man Holiday received a coveted average grade of A+ from moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That means it joins an elite club of films that have enjoyed long and fruitful box office runs, including Argo, 42, The Help, The King’s Speech, The Blind Side and Titanic. Going into the weekend, the distributor Universal Pictures projected that The Best Man Holiday would take in a modest $17 million, while prerelease audience surveys indicated the film would start off with around $23 million.
“There’s no crystal ball in guessing this stuff,” said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s president of distribution. “It was fair to think this film— where 87% of the audience was African American—would open in the high teens.” That it nearly doubled that estimate is “a phenomenal result,” said Rocco. “I would never have thought in my most non-lucid moment to expect this — the picture only cost $17-million.” Thanks to the A+ CinemaScore, Rocco says she believes the film will eventually reach a broader audience.
The Best Man Holiday, which is about a group of friends gathering for Christmas, is a sequel to 1999’s The Best Man which grossed $34 million. Both films were directed by Malcolm D. Lee and star a number of the same actors, including Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard and Nia Long.
THINGS NEVER SAID Cast: Shanola Hampton (Kalindra Stephney), Omari Hardwick (Curtis Jackson), Elimu Nelson (Ronnie), Tamala Jones (Daphne), Michael Beach (Will Jackson), Dorian Missick (Steve),Charlayne Woodard (Charlotte), Tom Wright (Daniel) Written & Directed by: Charles Murray Rated: R Ohio Street Pictures
I might as well get out the disclosure right up front: I have known Things Never Saidwriter/director Charles Murray for well over fifteen years, and at every turn of his career (executive at Magic Johnson’s production company, television writer on Third Watch and Criminal Minds, independent filmmaker) I have rooted for him. Charles is smart, funny and more than a bit of an unapologetic iconoclast, which could only mean two things for him – career suicide or artistic success. After seeing Things Never Said, I am thrilled to report he is a creative force only beginning to mine the gifts he has to share with this world.
The story of Things Never Said is deceptively simple: Kalindra (Shanola Hampton), a young woman haunted by a miscarriage and stuck in a bad marriage to former basketball star Ronnie (Elimu Nelson), seeks an outlet through spoken-word poetry. Kal succumbs to an affair with Curtis (Omari Hardwick), a fellow poet who seems to see into her soul, but has his own heavy baggage Kal may not want to take on. While that might sound prosaic and maybe even a little pretentious (note: the poetry is extremely well-performed and relatable, so if you weren’t a poetry fan before, you will be after this), what’s special about this movie is the nuanced, complex and unpredictable ways Murray has his characters grapple with their conflicts.
At first, you don’t want Kal to cheat on her husband – she is too intelligent and creative a woman to fall for the game the sexy-but-mysterious Curtis spits at her. But then again, you also wonder why Kal is staying with the sullen, unsupportive Ronnie, who seems to be going nowhere in his life and holding her back from hers. As the layers start to unfold, you learn not only has Ronnie gone through the hardship of losing his future, but also that Kal was brought up by her mother Charlotte (Charlayne Woodard) to believe that sticking with one’s husband no matter what is what defines a woman as a good person and wife. So when Kal finally does give in to her attraction to Curtis, they have so much chemistry and tenderness and understanding between them you want her to get away with the affair… until you realize Curtis may have even less to offer Kal than Ronnie when it’s revealed he’s an ex-con and why he landed in jail in the first place.
Actress Shanola Hampton carries the organic twists and turns of this movie so beautifully it’s surprising she’s never had a major role in a film before. She has an equally able partner in Omari Hardwick, who makes you root for Curtis despite the palpable possibility he may be more trouble than he’s worth. Which, I think, is Murray’s point – no matter how much you connect to another person and no matter how they make you feel about yourself or even challenge you to become your better self – the real romance and discovery lies within knowing and healing oneself. This is the thing not said about love – it alone does not conquer all. This is the thing not said about art or creative outlets – they alone do not solve deep issues. Kalindra is not “saved” by Curtis or her poetry, but rather, they both shed light on her path to saving and healing herself from all of the preconceived notions she’s grown up on, from all the ways she’s limited herself, and from all of the abuse she’s accepted – external and internal.
Things Never Said is an important addition to African-American independent cinema and humanistic storytelling that should not be missed. Its Los Angeles run has been extended through September 19 and the film opens in Atlanta, Boston, Washington DC, and Gary, Indiana on September 13 – TODAY! Please get out and support the movie — you can get updates on other showings around the country from thingsneversaid.com or on the Things Never Said Facebook Page. Also, check out the trailer below:
According to box office estimates, Lee Daniels’ The Butler the film beat out One Direction: This Is Us to win the Labor Day weekend box office race and become the first movie this year to finish No. 1 three consecutive weeks, according to TheWrap.
It appears the civil rights saga, starring Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker, will bring in a little more than $20 million over the four-day holiday weekend. After looking as if it was going to finish in the top spot, Sony’s boy band music documentary ended the Labor Day weekend with $18 million.
“We’re surprised,” The Weinstein Company’s distribution chief Erik Lomis told TheWrap, “and very proud. We weren’t expecting to come away with this one, especially after starting out $5 million behind ‘One Direction’ after Friday.”
Lomis said “The Butler,” which has now brought in nearly $80 million domestically, was continuing to broaden its demographic base by playing younger.
“With the kids getting back to school, we’re hoping the word of mouth gets even stronger,” said Lomis. There’s not much room to expand in terms of theaters; it’s on 3,330 screens and averaged just over $6,000.
Two other wide openers – the Selena Gomez-Ethan Hawke thriller “Getaway” and the Eric Bana spy tale “Closed Circuit” – were both non-starters. But “Instructions Not Included,” a family comedy starring Eugenio Derbez, recorded the biggest domestic opening ever for a Spanish-language movie – on just 347 screens – and finished fifth with $10 million for the four days.
The Weinstein Co. has unveiled the first posters for Lee Daniels’ The Butler, four days after it was forced to change the title from The Butler. Both posters show a white-gloved Forest Whitaker along with the new title (the poster above evoking the famous photo from the 1968 Olympics of Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the black power salute during their medal ceremony). TWC is releasing the film on Aug. 16. The Motion Pictures Assn. of America (MPAA) ruled Friday that TWC could keep The Butler”as part of the title, but would have to change its marketing materials and pay $400,000 in fines for violating a July 2 finding that the use of The Butler as the title had violated MPAA rules because Warner Bros. owns rights to The Butler.
The ruling also required that, should TWC use Lee Daniels’ The Butler as the title, the “Lee Daniels” part of title had to be 75% the size of “The Butler.” Lee Daniels’ The Butler is centered on African-American butler Eugene Allen, who worked in the White House during eight presidencies throughout the civil rights era. The film also stars Oprah Winfrey. TWC’s fine of $25,000 a day, dating back to July 2, is based on violating the initial ruling. The fine will increase to $50,000 a day if the studio fails to issue new digital materials (trailers, TV ads) by Thursday and new print materials by Aug. 2.
article by Dave McNary via Variety.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson