‘On The Basis of Sex’ & ‘Beale Street’ Expand; ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Cracks $15M: Specialty Box Office

Read on: Deadline.

Carryovers dominated the specialty scene over the weekend, with two platform releases making especially wide breaks.
Participant/Focus’ On The Basis of Sex jumped to more than 1,900 theaters in its third outing, grossing more than $6.2M to boost its cu…

‘The Upside’ Opens With $1.1 Million at Thursday Box Office

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“The Upside,” the American remake of “The Intouchables” starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman, opened to $1.1 million in Thursday box office previews on 2,460 screens.

The strong number for a January release puts it ahead of Thursday preview numbers for several other recent family comedies, including Mark Wahlberg’s recent “Instant Family,” which brought in $550,000 in an admittedly more crowded holiday release season.

The film from director Neil Burger and released by STXfilms is projected to bring in $10 million this weekend from approximately 3,080 screens with the hope that strong word of mouth might make for a surprise hit in the early weeks of January, but it does hold just a 34 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

By comparison, the similar dramedy “St. Vincent” starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy opened to $7.7 million and went on to gross $44 million domestically.

Also Read: ‘The Upside’ Director on ‘Intense’ Bryan Cranston Performance and Being ‘Truthful’ to Disabled Character

“The Upside” is based on a true story and follows the unlikely friendship between a wealthy quadriplegic (Cranston) and an ex-con (Hart) who is hired as his caregiver. The film was originally meant to open in March of 2018 but was delayed as part of The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy. The film is now being distributed by STXfilms along with the TWC offshoot Lantern Entertainment. It currently has a 40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Upside” opens opposite holiday releases still holding over, including the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic “On the Basis of Sex” opening in wider release.

But also releasing this weekend are Columbia Pictures’ family adventure “A Dog’s Way Home” and the Entertainment Studios sci-fi film “Replicas,” starring Keanu Reeves.

“A Dog’s Way Home” earned $535,000 from Thursday night previews starting at 5 PM from 2,657. The film stars Ashley Judd and Edward James Olmos in the story of a dog who goes on a 400-mile journey to reunite with its owner. Releasing on 3,090 screens, the film is projected for a $9-10 million opening against a reported $18 million budget. The film has a 71 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Also Read: Bryan Cranston Calls Playing Disabled Character in ‘The Upside’ a ‘Case of Catch-22’

“Replicas” stars Keanu Reeves as a synthetic biologist who loses his family in a car accident and rebels against both the government and scientific ethics with a desperate experiment to recreate them. The film is projected for a $4-7 million opening and has just an 11 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

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2019 Indie Box Office Starts With ‘Beale Street,’ ‘On the Basis of Sex’ Expansions

2019 Indie Box Office Starts With ‘Beale Street,’ ‘On the Basis of Sex’ Expansions

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

With the Golden Globes tonight, the first weekend of the 2019 indie box office was about awards contenders making in-roads with audiences. The studio making the biggest charge is Annapurna, as “If Beale Street Could Talk” expanded to 335 sc…

Costume Designers Help Establish a Film’s Point of View at First Look

Read on: Variety.

To look at Felicity Jones as the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the opening scene of “On the Basis of Sex” is to glimpse a microcosm of the next two hours: Outfitted in a 1950s-silhouetted dress, jacket and seamed pantyhose, Ginsberg is one of the few wo…

‘On the Basis of Sex’ Leads on Slow Finish to 2018 Indie Box Office

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

For the most part, the indie box office’s final weekend of 2018 was a muted one. Of the three films that opened this holiday weekend, the only one that had a solid start was Focus Features’ “On the Basis of Sex,” the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic directed by Mimi Leder and starring Felicity Jones as the civil rights lawyer and eventual Supreme Court Justice.

Released on Christmas Day on 33 screens, the film has earned $1.5 million over six days for a per screen average of $45,454. Of that total, an estimated $690,000 was grossed over the weekend for a PSA of $20,877. Focus remains positive about the film, noting its strong word of mouth among admirers of Ginsburg. The film expands to 100 screens next weekend.

Also Read: ‘Aquaman’ Rules Box Office Again With $51.5 Million 2nd Weekend

The other two films that opened this weekend, Annapurna’s “Destroyer” and Sony Pictures Classics’ “Stan & Ollie,” didn’t fare nearly as well. “Destroyer,” which also opened Christmas Day, earned $116,000 over six days with a weekend total of $58,472 from three screens and a PSA of $19,491. The thriller by Karyn Kusama stars Nicole Kidman as a scarred, obsessed LAPD officer and has a 76 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

“Stan & Ollie” — the Laurel & Hardy biopic starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as the famed comedic duo in the final years of their career – was released on five screens and earned $79,674 over the weekend for a per screen average of $15,935. The film has an 89 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

Among holdovers, Annapurna’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” held on decently after its first expansion to 65 screens. The film earned $759,579 over the weekend for a per screen average of $11,686, bringing it to a domestic total of just under $2 million. On the widest end, Focus’ “Mary Queen of Scots” had another solid weekend with $2.65 million from 841 theaters, giving it a total of $9 million after four weekends.

Also Read: 2018 Box Office Sets Domestic Annual Record With Over $11.38 Billion

Finally, Fox Searchlight’s “The Favourite” remains the queen of the holiday awards season, adding $2.4 million in its sixth weekend to bring its total to $15.2 million. So far, the Yorgos Lanthimos film is keeping up with the box office pace of last year’s Best Picture Oscar winner, “The Shape of Water,” which was also a Searchlight release.

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‘Cold War’, ‘On The Basis Of Sex’, ‘Stan & Ollie’ & ‘Destroyer’ Get Pre-Holiday Bows: Specialty Preview

Read on: Deadline.

Save for a few titles, high-profile awards-focused specialties have taken a back seat to last year’s group. A slate of new limited releases this weekend through the rest of 2018, however, might turn the tide. Amazon Studios is opening Pawel Pawlikowski…

Mimi Leder Discusses ‘On The Basis Of Sex,’ Apple Morning Show Drama & The Long Road Toward True Gender Parity

Read on: Deadline.

While Ruth Bader Ginsburg origin story On the Basis of Sex is Mimi Leder’s first feature in 18 years, it isn’t a return. In the mind of the director, who was making groundbreaking television long before it was in vogue, she never really left. When she …

Yes, ‘On the Basis of Sex’ Screenwriter Wrote Those Love Scenes About His Aunt Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A version of this article about Daniel Stiepleman and “On the Basis of Sex” first appeared in the Actors/Directors/Screenwriters issue of TheWrap’s Oscar magazine.

If most screenwriters told their aunts that they wanted to make a movie about them, the response would probably be, “Why me?” But Daniel Stiepleman’s aunt happens to be one of the most celebrated women of our era, pioneering lawyer and current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who’s already been the subject of a hit documentary, “RBG,” earlier this year.

So when Stiepleman told Ginsburg about his movie idea, her big question wasn’t why he wanted to do it, but why he wanted to center the film on the 1972 Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue case, in which she and her husband, Martin Ginsburg, set a precedent that helped overturn sex discrimination.

“She said, ‘Why that case?’” Stiepleman said. “She said, ‘I argued bigger cases, I argued cases in front of the Supreme Court.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but this is the only one you ever argued with Uncle Mark.’ And to me, that was the crucial angle — figuring out how they lived at home what they were fighting for in court. It was important for people to know that the political and the personal were intertwined.”

Also Read: ‘On the Basis of Sex’ Film Review: RBG Biopic Celebrates the Political and the Personal

Stiepleman didn’t know about the case until he heard about it in a eulogy at his uncle’s 2010 funeral. “I immediately thought, ‘Wow, this would be an incredible movie,’” he said. “And my second thought was, ‘What kind of asshole am I? I’m sitting here at my uncle’s funeral — I can’t mine his life for material.’”

But Stiepleman was so taken by the story of that case, and of a marriage in which he said his aunt and uncle “were real equals,” that he overcame his qualms and got Ginsburg’s permission to delve into her files at the Library of Congress to research the case and her life at the time. “I’d look at her lecture notes and the drafts of her briefs and her letters to other lawyers, and then at night we’d eat dinner and drink wine and talk about her marriage,” he said.

“On the Basis of Sex” follows Ginsburg as a young mother struggling to be taken seriously at Harvard Law School, then struggling to be hired by any law firm while Martin (played by Armie Hammer) enjoys a flourishing career. But her directive to Stiepleman, he said, was not to overstate her importance in using the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution to strike down institutionalized sex discrimination.

“She said, ‘I don’t want people to think I invented this area of the law,’ as if it had never occurred to people before me that women should be considered people under the Equal Protection Clause. I built my career on the shoulders of a generation of women lawyers who came before me.’”

: ‘On the Basis of Sex’ Star Felicity Jones Says Hollywood Should Embrace Director Mimi Leder’s Patience (Video)

Because the film spends plenty of time on the dynamics of the marriage, it also ventures into areas in which its screenwriter was not entirely comfortable. One of the scenes that Stiepleman found hardest to write shows his aunt and uncle flirting, then adjourning to the bedroom.

“I just wrote, ‘They fall into bed together,’ but [director] Mimi Leder said, ‘I need something to shoot,’” he said. “I went home, poured a drink and called Aunt Ruth.’”

He laughed. “No, that did not happen. That would have been weird. But I thought about the dynamics of their relationship, which was not something I necessarily wanted to think about, and then wrote the scene. I understand that Mimi shot two versions of it, the one that’s in the movie and one that goes a little further. I was not on the set that day, which was not an accident.”

Also Read: Felicity Jones Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg in First Trailer for ‘On the Basis of Sex’ (Video)

With President Trump frequently lashing out at judges whose decisions he doesn’t like, Chief Justice John Roberts recently decried the politicization of the judiciary, saying, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.”

But Ginsburg has become an inherently political person (and icon), and Stiepleman knows it. So does he consider “On the Basis of Sex” a political film?

“Here’s what I learned from writing the movie, and from being Ruth’s nephew,” he said. “Ruth is someone who has ideals, and those ideals for some have made her a hero and for others have made her divisive.

“There is a perception of my aunt by some that she wants to tear down the system, but my experience is that she reveres the system, and who agrees with the idea that there should not be Obama judges and Trump judges and Clinton judges.

“What I see, and what the movie explores, is a young woman figuring out how to articulate her beliefs in a way that’s persuasive — she finds the balance between not alienating the male authorities and also being true to herself. Which is inherently political. She’s trying to persuade the people who disagree with her, not destroy them, and I think that’s what we’ve stopped trying to do in his particular political moment.”

Meanwhile, he’s hoping that “On the Basis of Sex” educates people, and maybe even changes a few minds. “At one test screening,” he said, “a man wrote down on his comments card, ‘I never understood why sex discrimination was a big deal until now. Thank you.’

“And I immediately called her up and said, ‘Guess what? We did it!’”

To read more of TheWrap’s Actors/Directors/Screenwriters issue, click here.

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Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson on Sex at the Movies

Read on: Variety.

Armie Hammer and Dakota Johnson sat down for a chat for Variety’s Actors on Actors. For more, click here.  Dakota Johnson has become the muse for Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino. In this year’s remake of the horror thriller “Suspiria,” their secon…

Felicity Jones Isn’t Afraid to Take Risks as She Juggles Diverse Roles

Read on: Variety.

It’s hard to believe that Felicity Jones has been working in the film industry for only a decade. Since her bigscreen debut in 2008’s “Flashbacks of a Fool,” the unassuming 35-yearold has gained incredible momentum over the 20 films she’s made, effortl…