10 Busiest Movie Actors of 2018, From Tessa Thompson to Michael B Jordan (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Michael B Jordan
The actor is in serious awards contention for his role in “Black Panther,” but also most recently starred in “Creed II,” “Fahrenheit 451” and “Kin.”

Josh Brolin
We all know Josh Brolin p…

‘Mary, Queen of Scots’ Film Review: Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie Make Worthy, Regal Adversaries

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Period pieces have always been a bit bittersweet for me: Stunning costumes aside, the films rarely offer something to which a woman or a person of color can connect. Historical tales often cast women as bitter and evil, or soft and in need of rescuing, and they also erase people of color completely from existence.

Contrary to what far too many filmmakers seem to believe, people of color didn’t just drop from the sky in the past few decades. We have been here all along; we’ve fought in wars, built cities, have been part of royal courts, and lived in lands as peasants, soldiers and laypeople all over the world. And women have always been a spectrum of personalities, opinions and lifestyles, muted only for the comfort of the male gaze.

“Mary, Queen of Scots” acknowledges both the struggles of women and the fact that people of color have always been part of society, even during the Renaissance and Age of Discovery. The film also provides an intense, gorgeous and fully fleshed-out story of two queens, each born to rule yet still controlled and manipulated by the very men in whom they invest their trust and lives.

Watch Video: ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Trailer Pits Saoirse Ronan Against Margot Robbie’s Queen Elizabeth I

Adapted by Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”) from John Guy’s biography “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart”, the film opens in 1561, when Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) returns to Scotland after the death of her husband, King Francis II. Alhough Mary is the true sovereign of Scotland, the kingdom has been run by regents since her infancy, and she had little knowledge over the complex politics taking place there. Her devout Catholicism, in a land mainly comprised of Protestants, leads everyone, from her advisors to her people, to cast a suspicious eye upon her. But Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) knows what it means to be a woman in power, and how even a throne can feel like a cage, but when it comes to dealing with Mary, Elizabeth doesn’t defy the advice of her all-male court for fear that her own people would turn against her and strip her of her crown.

First-time screen director Josie Rourke brings her stage experience to every frame of “Mary Queen of Scots.” In the theater, every second is meticulously planned out; every turn has a purpose; every moment, a need. She uses this knowledge to create scenes that are thrilling and effective, simply by focusing on the subtle details — a mischievous smile from Ronan, a wavering look from Robbie, small and precise, a process unveiling moment by moment. These minute details make Mary and Elizabeth’s long-distance battle of wits as thrilling to watch as any bloody battle scene from “Game of Thrones” or “Gladiator.”

Also Read: ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Gets Early December Release From Focus Features

Shying away from conventional history, Willimon’s screenplay devises a new narrative for the strained relationship between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth; the writer’s take feels fresh and much more believable, and in line with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. It presupposes that the Queens not only cared for but also respected each other, but that their conflict, and ultimately Mary’s demise, was constructed by the men around them who feared women being given too much power. This isn’t a far-fetched idea if you’ve kept your eye on politics, or even the workforce, over the past few decades. Women comprise over 51% of the population and yet, even after this recent election, we see a majority of men making decisions about women’s bodies and what rights they have over them. It’s the reason there’s still gender pay inequality, and why victims of assault are persecuted in the public square. It’s not a far-fetched idea at all.

Simultaneously, it’s refreshing to see people of color cast, not merely as background pieces spread about like bacon bits in a bland salad but given speaking roles and playing real historical figures. Even in recent period films (“First Man,” I’m looking at you), excuses of “that’s just how it was” are given to excuse the erasure of people of color. Even in the 15th century, Europe had migrants from what is now known as the Middle East, as well as Asia, India, Sub-Saharan Africa, and more. Casting talented actors like Gemma Chan, Adrian Lester, and Ismael Cruz Córdova — the latter plays an unapologetically queer character, another important aspect of representation often lacking in historical films — shows a heightened sense of awareness and creates a more realistic world.

Also Read: Margot Robbie in Talks to Star in Barbie Movie At Warner Bros

But back to the Queens: The contrast between Mary and Elizabeth is both focused and balanced, and neither the camera nor the script ever gives preference to either. The dynamics and power plays between the two are smart and calculated, and uniquely feminine. There’s a particular sequence that moves fairly quickly, where Elizabeth sends her lover (Joe Alwyn as Lord Robert Dudley) to Mary to propose that Mary take him as a suitor. Mary, completely unfettered, and perhaps a little impressed, knows exactly the chess move her cousin has made, because it plays on what Elizabeth knows Mary craves the most — a partner with whom to produce an heir. Without batting an eyelash, Mary turns the play around on the famously unmarried and childless Elizabeth, which frustrates and, in a way, delights her. Those are some boss moves.

Speaking of boss behavior, bow down to Ronan and Robbie for taking two legendarily complex characters, who have been reborn countless times in film and television, and completely owning both roles. Ronan’s fiery Mary and Robbie’s emotionally complex Elizabeth truly reign divine on screen. History has not been kind even to powerful women, and “Mary, Queen of Scots” strikes a complicated balance of making sure both characters are seen not only as icons but also as imperfect, vulnerable and subjected to so much of what women in the workplace have had to endure ever since women were allowed in the workplace.



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‘The Favourite’: Female-Led Film Resonates During #MeToo and Times Up

Read on: Variety.

Although “The Favourite” was in the works for long before the #MeToo and #TimesUp, it feels especially timely to have a film with three female leads right now. In the film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, set in 18th-century England, Olivia Colman plays Q…

Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone Go Head to Head in New ‘The Favourite’ Trailer (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone go head-to-head, vying to be Queen Anne’s favorite in a new trailer for Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite.”

In the trailer, the close relationship between Queen Anne (Colman) and Sarah Churchill (Weisz) is threatened when Sarah’s cousin, Abigail Masham (Stone), stops by and asks for a job. A bitter rivalry between the two relatives start.

Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, Mark Gatiss, James Smith and Jenny Rainsford also star in the drama directed by Lanthimos, whose last two films were “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “The Lobster,” the latter of which also starred Weisz.

Also Read: ‘The Favourite’ Film Review: Emma Stone Plays an 18th Century Eve Harrington in a Twisted Historical Farce

“The Favourite” had its world premiere at the 75th Venice Film Festival on Aug. 30 and is scheduled for release on Nov. 23.

Producers are Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Lanthimos, and Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara penned the script.

Watch the trailer above.

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‘Operation Finale’ Film Review: Strong Ensemble Infuses Passion Into Conventional Retelling of Adolf Eichmann’s Capture

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Ben Kingsley has embodied Jewish heroes as iconic as Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal (“Murderers Among Us”), Anne Frank’s father Otto (“Anne Frank: The Whole Story”), and businessman Itzhak Stern (“Schindler’s List”). In “Operation Finale,” he adopts another perspective altogether, portraying the ultimate villain in Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

The innately intense Kingsley isn’t an ideal match for the mild-mannered murderer who inspired philosopher Hannah Arendt to coin the phrase “the banality of evil.” But like the rest of the cast, he holds our attention even when the movie buckles under the burden of earnest intentions.

Once you get past the jarring collection of mismatched accents, it’s a pleasure to be in the company of pros like Oscar Isaac, Mélanie Laurent (“Beginners”), Nick Kroll, and Michael Aronov (“The Americans”). But as Mossad agents, their characters find little pleasure in the task designed by their intimidating boss (Lior Raz) and approved by no less than Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (Simon Russell Beale, “The Death of Stalin”): to secretly travel from Tel Aviv to Buenos Aires, risking their own lives in order to capture the elusive Eichmann.

Watch Video: Oscar Isaac Is a Mossad Spy in First Trailer for ‘Operation Finale’

The script’s blunt approach is indicated early on, when Argentine teen Sylvia (Haley Lu Richardson, “Support the Girls”) meets her new boyfriend at a showing of the 1959 racial drama “Imitation of Life.” Sure, it’s a nice way for director Chris Weitz (“A Better Life”) to give a shout-out to his mother, Susan Kohner, one of the film’s stars. But it’s an awfully obvious metaphor for the secretly-Jewish-passing-as-Catholic Sylvia, who proudly brings home the handsome, ultra-Aryan Klaus Eichmann (Joe Alwyn, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”).

Sylvia’s father (Peter Strauss) is stunned to realize he’s got a Nazi heir casually eating dinner at his house and immediately alerts Israeli authorities. While Klaus courts Sylvia by bringing her to terrifying Nazi rallies, the Mossad team begins devising a proposal to bring the elder Eichmann to justice.

The plan is a supremely dangerous one: Peter (Isaac), Rafi (Kroll), Isser (Raz), and Hanna (Laurent) are among the undercover agents who fly to Buenos Aires in hopes of airlifting Eichmann out. But first they have to kidnap him without the notice of his loyal wife (an underused Greta Scacchi) or Fascist henchman (a chilling Pêpê Rapazote, “Narcos”). Then they need to hold him at a hidden safe house that could be discovered at any moment by anti-Semitic local leaders. Worse still, the plane on which they hope to smuggle him out can’t take off unless Eichmann signs a document in which he freely agrees to be tried in Israel.

Also Read: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron Lead Cast for Animated ‘Addams Family’

That unlikely requirement should be enough to create tension on its own, and Weitz does build a sense of palpable panic around these impossibly high stakes. Moreover, because the movie primarily takes place in 1960, everyone on the Israeli team has been directly impacted by the Holocaust. Eichmann was a chief organizer of the Final Solution, responsible for sending millions of Jews — including Peter’s sister and her children — to their deaths.

That being the case, it strains credulity when we’re asked to believe that a personally haunted, professionally brilliant spy like Peter could be so easily drawn in by his crafty prisoner. First-time screenwriter Matthew Orton often seems to be going more for broad-stroke dramatics than gripping authenticity, given that he’s crafted a fairly generic biopic out of what was truly one of the most remarkable missions in modern history.

But it’s evident that he and Weitz believe passionately in their project, as does this wide range of first-rate actors. Every one of the supporting players makes an impact in his or her brief scenes, with standouts including the luminous Laurent and an effectively subdued Kroll, although both could have used more to do.

Watch Video: James Corden Stops London Traffic With Ben Kingsley for ‘Mary Poppins’ Crosswalk Musical

Indeed, the movie really belongs to the central pair, to such a degree that it often feels like a two-hander. Kingsley and Isaac are unusually charismatic actors, which elevates each of their cat-and-mouse scenes. Though it’s off-putting to watch Kingsley humanize a man who dedicated himself to monstrous acts, it was Eichmann’s apparent ordinariness that became his second legacy: the banality that Arendt so famously described after watching him defend himself as a cog in larger machinery.

Both Weitz and Orton are keenly aware of the parallels between Eichmann’s era and our own, and though they don’t hit them too hard, their intent is powerfully clear. This urgency (aptly accentuated by Alexandre Desplat’s score), and the sincere commitment of all involved, gives the movie a greater weight than its labored pacing and bland visuals otherwise might.

It’s a shame the filmmakers felt constrained by the import of their subject matter, rather than inspired to take some artistic risks. But even when the storytelling falters, the story itself — not merely extraordinary, but eternally relevant — remains paramount.



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‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Trailer Pits Saoirse Ronan Against Margot Robbie’s Queen Elizabeth I (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Saoirse Ronan faces off against Margot Robbie in the first trailer for Focus Features’ “Mary Queen of Scots,” an historical biopic that has all the makings of returning both stars to the Oscar race — in the same movie this time.

British stage veteran Josie Rourke directs the film, which explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Ronan). Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I (Robbie).

Each young Queen beholds her “sister” in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence.

Also Read: Margot Robbie Teases Harley Quinn Spinoff ‘Birds of Prey’ as ‘R-Rated Girl Gang Film’

Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones– and change the course of history.

Ronan (“Lady Bird”) and Robbie (“I, Tonya”) were both nominated for Best Actress this year, though they lost to Frances McDormand for her role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

“Mary Queen of Scots” also stars Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, Martin Compston, Ismael Cordova, Brendan Coyle, Ian Hart, Adrian Lester, James McArdle, David Tennant and Guy Pearce.

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Beau Willimon (“The Ides of March,” “House of Cards”) wrote the screenplay based on John Guy’s book “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward produced.

Focus Features is planning to release the film on Dec. 7.

Watch the traile above.

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Oscar Isaac Is a Mossad Spy in First Trailer for ‘Operation Finale’ (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

MGM has released the first trailer for “Operation Finale,” a film about the true story about the 1960 mission to capture Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann.

In the trailer, we see Ben Kingsley as Eichmann, the man who came up with the transportation logistics that brought millions of Jews to the concentration camps.

“My job was simple,” says Eichmann. “Save the country I loved from being destroyed.”

Also Read: Oscar Isaac in Final Talks to Star in Nazi Hunting Drama ‘Operation Finale’

Oscar Isaac stars as a Mossad spy Peter Malkin, while Melanie Laurent, Haley Lu Richardson, Joe Alwyn, Nick Kroll and Lior Raz also star in the historical drama that was directed by Chris Weitz and written by Matthew Orton.

Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Fred Berger produce under their Automatik banner alongside Isaac and Inspire Entertainment’s Jason Spire. Matt Charman and Ron Schmidt executive produced.

See Video: Watch Carrie Fisher Slap Oscar Isaac Over and Over Again in ‘Last Jedi’ Blooper Reel

“If you fail,” Malkin is told, “he escapes justice, perhaps forever. I beg you –do not fail.”

“Operation Finale” hits theaters on September 14.

Watch the trailer above.

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Song Review: Taylor Swift’s ‘Gorgeous’

Read on: Variety.

It appears the “old Taylor” can come to the phone after all. For anyone hoping for a more conventional Taylor Swift single from her forthcoming sixth album, “Reputation,” the third time’s the charm, as “Gorgeous” finally provides some of the conventional pleasures that only a pop song about falling deeply in crush can. Not that […]

‘Billy Lynn’ Star Joe Alwyn Joins Russell Crowe in ‘Boy Erased,’ Oscar Isaac in ‘Operation Finale’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Read on: Variety.

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” star Joe Alwyn has landed roles in two highly anticipated films. The actor has joined Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges in Focus’ drama “Boy Erased,” directed by Joel Edgerton. He’s also boarded MGM’s “Operation Finale,” starring Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley in the true story of the hunt for Nazi war… Read more »

‘The Sense of an Ending’ Review: Jim Broadbent Gets Swept Up in Past Romance

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Handsomely mounted and deeply sincere, “The Sense of an Ending” is the kind of film that probably couldn’t be made in America, or in any other country without a government-backed entity like BBC Films to partially underwrite it.

Based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by Julian Barnes, this is a production about Very Uncommercial Things: aging, regret, and the sneaking suspicion that we’re all somehow passengers in our own lives. It’s also a film that fairly reeks of anti-cinematic cultural imperatives. A universally acclaimed but very internal British novel has been translated to the screen mostly to cement its status as a literary benchmark, and this despite the fact that what’s best about the book (shimmering prose, a nuanced depiction of an aged man’s inner life) has been jettisoned by the movie.

A gimlet-eyed and self-deprecating Jim Broadbent is Tony Webster, the aged owner-operator of what must be London’s smallest storefront business: a camera shop wedged into the foyer of a mid-century commercial building and dedicated exclusively to the sale and refurbishment of classic Leica cameras.

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There’s a quiet obsession behind the hyper-specificity of Tony’s inventory. Back in the mid-1960s, Tony’s first love Veronica (Freya Mavor, “Skins”) introduced him to the Leica brand before running off with his best friend Adrian (Joe Alwyn, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”) and causing a wound Tony still carries, 50 years on.

A last will and testament thrusts Veronica back into Tony’s life after decades apart, where he finds her as enigmatic as ever (and played by a warily coquettish Charlotte Rampling, in a very small role unworthy of its star billing). Adrian left a diary, and Veronica’s wicked mother (Emily Mortimer, impactful in just two scenes) has willed it to Tony. But as executor of mom’s will, Veronica refuses to hand the possibly revelatory pages over. The re-emergence of so many old ghost pitches Tony into his own past, where he must confront both his lack of closure and his own role in a forgotten tragedy he and Veronica share.

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As he demonstrated more assuredly with his sweet comedy of yearning “The Lunchbox,” director Ritesh Batra has a knack for the nuances of human interaction. Though they lopside this movie by underscoring subplot at the expense of plot, the scenes between Broadbent and Harriet Walter (“The Crown”) as his patient and compassionate ex-wife are soulful and lived-in. Broadbent is incapable of giving a false performance, and he does fine, if perhaps too sprightly, work here. But as a couple, Broadbent and Walter radiate familiarity and tenderness — the very embodiment of how a severed union can remain intact.

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“The Sense of an Ending” is bracketed by extended and lyrical narration sequences suggesting the other and perhaps better movie that might have been. In the hoary received wisdom, words are “uncinematic,” and novels must therefore be “opened up” and externalized for the screen. But had this well-meaning movie been more willing to directly embrace its origins in Barnes’s luminous prose, it’s quite possible “The Sense of an Ending” might be something special rather than something worthy. It’s not quite the same thing.

‘Doctor Strange’ Heads to No. 1 for Second Weekend With $45 Million

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Predictions for the opening of Paramount Pictures’ sci-fi drama “Arrival” and Universal’s holiday-themed comedy “Almost Christmas” are no longer neck and neck for this weekend’s new wide releases.

The Amy Adams sci-fi drama is now expected to earn roughly $24 million in its opening weekend for third place, pulling away from “Almost Christmas,” estimated to make $16.2 million.

Disney-Marvel’s holdover hit starring Benedict Cumberbatch, “Doctor Strange,” is on its way to making $45 million for No. 1 at the box office for its second weekend in a row, trouncing the two new titles in the process.

The newbies are also having a tough time beating DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls” in its second weekend, on track to be No. 2 with an estimated $34 million to $35 million.

“Doctor Strange” earned $85.1 million last weekend and “Trolls” grossed $46.6 million.

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Meanwhile, new EuropaCorp thriller “Shut In,” likely won’t eke out a place in the top five at this point, now expected to open to roughly $4 million.

Holdover “Hacksaw Ridge” is tracking toward an $11 million second weekend for a probable 5th place.

Here’s more of the breakdown:

“Doctor Strange” made $14.9 million on Friday night, making its current domestic cumulative $124.9 million. Fox’s “Trolls” earned $12.2 million on Friday night, bringing its cumulative to $93.1 million.

Off glowing reviews, “Arrival” is beating estimates of $17 million made earlier in the week by roughly $7 million. It’s playing in 2,317 locations this weekend and was made for $47 million, not counting marketing costs. (Paramount acquired U.S., Canadian and China distribution rights out of the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 for $20 million.)

Also Read: 6 Reasons Why ‘Doctor Strange’ Overperformed at the Box Office

It stars Amy Adams as a language expert who risks her life in an attempt to communicate with the inhabitants of a mysterious spacecraft. The film also features Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark O’Brien, and was directed by Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”).

“Arrival” passed with flying colors when it screened on the festival circuit earlier this year and currently has a 93-percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Predictions for “Almost Christmas” match those made earlier in the week, as the film made $5.9 million on Friday from 2,376 locations.

Also Read: ‘Arrival’ Venice Review: Amy Adams Talks to the Aliens in Cerebral Sci-Fi Story

Written and directed by David E. Talbert (“Baggage Claim”), the comedy stars Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Danny Glover, Romany Malco, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, J.B. Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Jessie Usher and DC Young Fly. The film is tracking strongest among African-American women.

“Almost Christmas” was produced for $17 million and is playing in 2,372 theaters. It centers on the family patriarch’s one wish as his family gathers for five days over the holiday: to get along.

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In EuropaCorp’s “Shut In,” Naomi Watts plays a child psychologist whose son (Charlie Heaton of “Stranger Things”) becomes bedridden following a car accident that killed her husband.

The movie made $1.4 million on Friday night, and now its three-day estimates have sharply declined.

“Room” star Jacob Tremblay is also in the PG-13 thriller, playing in 2,058 theaters. He plays a young patient who goes missing, is later presumed dead, and appears to haunt her home in rural New England during a dangerous winter storm.

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‘Arrival,’ ‘Almost Christmas’ Won’t Beat ‘Doctor Strange’ at Box Office

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Predictions for the opening of Paramount Pictures’ sci-fi drama “Arrival” are neck and neck with Universal’s holiday-themed comedy “Almost Christmas” for this weekend’s new wide releases.

But Disney-Marvel’s holdover hit starring Benedict Cumberbatch, “Doctor Strange,” is poised to magically emerge in the No. 1 spot at the box office for its second weekend in a row, trouncing the two new titles in the process.

The newbies will also have a tough time beating DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls” in its second weekend. “Doctor Strange” earned $85.1 million last weekend and “Trolls” grossed $46.6 million. Both would have to experience extremely steep percentage declines to lose to any new wide releases.

Also Read: Why the Presidential Election Has Sucked the Air Out of the Box Office This Fall

Meanwhile, new EuropaCorp thriller “Shut In,” should eke out a place in the top five if it performs in line with expectations.

Also worth noting: New York and Los Angeles audiences will be treated to high-tech screenings of Sony’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” directed by Ang Lee. Shot in 120 frames per second, the film, starring newcomer Joe Alwyn, along with Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund and Vin Diesel, will play in 124K 3D — an emerging technology using one-of-a-kind projectors — during the film’s very limited opening before it expands the following weekend.

Here’s the breakdown:

“Arrival” is tracking to open at $17 million, though Paramount is expecting slightly lower numbers in the low-to-mid teens. It’s set to play in roughly 2,200 locations this weekend and was made for $47 million, not counting marketing costs. (Paramount acquired U.S., Canadian and China distribution rights out of the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 for $20 million.)

Also Read: 6 Reasons Why ‘Doctor Strange’ Overperformed at the Box Office

It stars Amy Adams as a language expert who risks her life in an attempt to communicate with the inhabitants of a mysterious spacecraft. The film also features Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark O’Brien, and was directed by Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”).

“Arrival” passed with flying colors when it screened on the festival circuit earlier this year and currently has a perfect 100-percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Experts predict “Almost Christmas” will debut to $16 million, though Universal is being more conservative with estimates in the low-to-mid teens.

Also Read: ‘Arrival’ Venice Review: Amy Adams Talks to the Aliens in Cerebral Sci-Fi Story

Written and directed by David E. Talbert (“Baggage Claim”), the comedy stars Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Danny Glover, Romany Malco, Mo’Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, J.B. Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Jessie Usher and DC Young Fly. The film is tracking strongest among African-American women.

“Almost Christmas” is opening in 2,372 theaters and centers on the family patriarch’s one wish as his family gathers for five days over the holiday: to get along.

Also Read: Ang Lee Explains Why ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ Actors Didn’t Wear Makeup

In EuropaCorp’s “Shut In,” Naomi Watts plays a child psychologist whose son (Charlie Heaton of “Stranger Things”) becomes bedridden following a car accident that killed her husband.

The movie is expected to debut to $9 million, according to recent estimates.

“Room” star Jacob Tremblay is also in the PG-13 thriller. He plays a young patient who goes missing, is later presumed dead, and appears to haunt her home in rural New England during a dangerous winter storm.

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Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan, Joe Alwyn Playing For ‘Keepers’ – AFM

Read on: Deadline.

Cross Creek Pictures is fully financing Keepers, a psychological thriller to be helmed by The Killing‘s Kristoffer Nyholm in his feature debut. Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan and up-and-comer Joe Alwyn (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk) have now boarded the project that’s inspired by a true unsolved local mystery. Mad As Birds is producing with an eye towards an early 2017 UK shoot. Protagonist Pictures will introduce to buyers at the AFM this week.
The action is set on an…

Ang Lee Explains Why ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ Actors Didn’t Wear Makeup

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Ang Lee used new technology to charter “unknown territory” in shooting his new film “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” the two-time Oscar winning director explained on Thursday night.

“I want to bring the audience into the movie,” he said of his new 3D film during a Q&A at Dolby Cinema at Vine Theater in Hollywood. “There is so much more to play with.”

Lee shot the movie in 4k, which displays four times the usual number of pixels on screen. It was also filmed at 120 frames per second.

Also Read: Oscar Race: Martin Scorsese, Denzel Washington, Ben Affleck Aim to Bring Down ‘La La Land’

There are pluses and minuses to filming double the frame rate, according Lee, who said it offers a much higher level of realism than traditional film — which suited his story about a young U.S. soldier (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who returns from the Iraq War as a hero.

“It’s a way to honor our troops,”  Lee said, explaining that he aimed to explore the new technology for dramatic purposes in showing flashbacks to battle sequences — and not just high-concept action and fantasy. “I want to capture what it really feels like.”

Since much more detail appears on screen, it would be easy for audiences to spot makeup on the actors. So, the cast went mostly without any at all. “There was no makeup… I wanted to study their faces — every little nuance,” said the “Life of Pi” director. “No artifice was allowed. So much is seen in their eyes, even the pores and their skin tone.”

Also Read: ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ NYFF Review: Ang Lee Stumbles at the 50-Yard Line

Because Lee was working in an emerging medium, he had to do everything differently than what he has been used to. “I tried not to light like 2D. There were a lot of details and they have to look real, not stylish.”

The action scenes benefited, he said, explaining that filmmakers usually have to cut around the old 60 frames-per-second when it comes to fast movement. “Now we can film while a car is shaking. There’s no flickering, we now see [the actors]. It’s more exciting… there’s more dimension, light and clarity.”

Based on the celebrated novel by Ben Fountain, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” goes inside the mind of decorated soldier Billy Lynn, who has gained fame after a battleground video that captures his heroics has gone viral. As he and his squad appear at an NFL game, he finds himself conflicted about his newfound fame as he reflects on his wartime experience. Sony is distributing the TriStar and Studio 8 production.

Also Read: ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’: First Powerful Trailer for Ang Lee Drama Explores Pain of War (Video)

Lee discovered Alwyn, then a student, after a month of searching. “Two minutes into the reading — bing — done deal,” Lee said.

The book depicts Lynn as acerbic, satirical and wise beyond his years. But Alwyn has a natural propensity to be more “emotional and earnest,” Lee said, explaining that he molded the movie to Alwyn’s talents.

When it comes to his use of new tech, Lee emphasized, “There’s no reference here… We’re just beginning to learn. I want to take a leap of faith and see what it looks like.”

The film, which also stars Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Steve Martin, Vin Diesel and Chris Tucker, opens in theaters on Nov. 11.

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New York Film Review: ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’

Read on: Variety.

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” has the potential to be a revolutionary film. It opens the door to a new way for movies to be shot, a new way for them to look and feel, a new way for them to be experienced. (This may not happen — in fact, it surely won’t — for… Read more »

‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’: Film Review | NYFF 2016

Read on: Hollywood Reporter - All Reviews.

Ang Lee pushes cinematic boundaries in this drama starring newcomer Joe Alwyn as an Iraq War hero caught up in a head-spinning whirl of pre-packaged patriotism.read more

‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ NYFF Review: Ang Lee Stumbles at the 50-Yard Line

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

So who is Billy Lynn, and what is a halftime walk, and why is it long? These questions and a few others are tentatively answered in Ang Lee‘s film adaptation of Ben Fountain’s 2012 novel about an Iraq War veteran named Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who participates in a grueling Thanksgiving Day halftime performance after coming home from battle in 2004.

Lee has shot “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” at a rate of 120 frames per second with a resolution of 4K in 3D. The always well-meaning Lee and his collaborators have been quoted as saying that this new process is meant to be a step forward when it comes to realism on screen, but the result of their experiment is anything but realistic.

In most of the scenes in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” a figure will stand in the foreground of the frame and the background will be out of focus, and the foregrounded figure is so super-clear that they look like a cut-out with scissors from a glossy magazine. There have been some outstanding examples in recent years of what can be accomplished with immersive 3D imagery, but the extra-clarity 3D in this Lee movie often looks weirdly like something shot on videotape in the 1980s.

See Video: ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’: First Powerful Trailer for Ang Lee Drama Explores Pain of War

What this process means for the actors is that every pore on their face is highlighted as well as wrinkles and blemishes and yellow teeth that would likely not be noticeable otherwise. (This process is surely the nightmare of a performer with any standard degree of physical vanity.) Does this 120 frame rate/4K resolution technique heighten what we can see on a human face, which is what Lee is hoping for? It does seem to give an extra emotional oomph to the close-ups of Kristen Stewart, who plays Billy’s loving sister, but this exaggerated scrutiny totally exposes the all-surface performance of Steve Martin, who is miscast as a villainous tycoon.

How exactly is this new frame rate supposed to look like any sort of progress if the background of a shot is almost always out of focus? The only thing this process in its current state might be good for are shots that are supposed to be from the subjective viewpoint of a character who is losing touch with reality, which is the exact opposite of what Lee intends it for here. Cinematographer Gregg Toland’s experiments with deep focus from 75 years ago feel more radical than anything in “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” and any old school split diopter shot with both background and foreground figures in sharp focus might knock any of the images in this movie right off the screen.

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A bolder director than Lee might have made a clearer and even blunter connection between American warfare and the American entertainment at the halftime show, but this film is structured with a before-and-after dynamic so that the scenes where Billy Lynn and his fellow soldiers stand behind Destiny’s Child at the halftime show feel far more nerve-wracking and ominous than the unconvincing war scenes, and this deliberate imbalance doesn’t pay off dramatically in any discernible way.

On a narrative level, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is as awkward and half-hearted as its title. Lee demonstrates absolutely no understanding of how the soldiers could or should relate to each other as a team, and the dialogue rhythms are especially off when they try to be funny with each other. The scenes where Billy romances a cheerleader named Faison (Makenzie Leigh, “James White”) are especially disastrous, as if both of them were stilted beings from some other planet trying to relate to each other.

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Of all the actors here, only Stewart behaves as if she is in a serious film. Her character has been injured and scarred in a car accident, and the marks on her face and on her torso have been convincingly applied so that they stand up to the test of Lee’s new frame-rate process. Perhaps this process is only in its early stages and might improve over time, but for now it does not feel ready for anything but TV soap operas starring actors with the clearest and smoothest possible skin.

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” winds up being a wearying experience, not because of its emotional content but because of its lack of cohesion and its ultimate collapse into gross and unearned sentimentality. The impression this movie leaves is one of hapless and anxious super-clear cut-outs interacting with either blurred co-players or blurred backgrounds that look less like life and more like near-sightedness.

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