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The Weekend Movie Takeaway: January 28, 2019

January 28, 2019

The first weekend since Oscar® nominations were announced didn’t see notable action on the box office front; but plenty of interesting, film-related developments happened elsewhere.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass maintained the top spot, earning $19 million (an indication that mixed critical and social media reaction to the film hasn’t stopped people from showing up).

For better or for worse, Shyamalan is one of few filmmakers working today known primarily for storytelling prowess; the attention Glass is receiving proves that prowess still resonates with large audiences.

Last week saw Aquaman surpass The Dark Knight as the highest-grossing DC Comics movie at the international box office to date, signaling a sunny future for a comic book company that has struggled to keep up with main rival Marvel, despite having better-known characters.

The narrative lessons from Aquaman — keep it fun, make it big — should be observed by future DC Comics adaptations.

The Matthew McConaughey/Anne Hathaway thriller Serenity had a pretty dismal first weekend in theaters, earning only $4.5 million (a low number, particularly for a film with such big stars). Some are mocking it on social media for confusing storytelling; a good reminder that story still matters.

The Kid Who Would Be King, which also debuted on the weekend, fared slightly better by earning $7.5 million. Still, the numbers are no doubt a disappointment to executives at Fox, who clearly had high hopes for the film when they put it into 3,500 theaters.

Again, the Oscar nominations haven't had a huge impact on the box office; best picture nominee Green Book saw the biggest bump after adding 1,500 theaters and earning more than $5 million.

Fellow best picture nominee The Favourite added around 1,000 theaters and seems to be benefiting from 10 nominations, earning $2.5 million over the weekend. That brings its total to $25 million; impressive numbers for a period drama, no matter how you look at it.

But the most exciting movie-related news from the weekend is coming out of Sundance, where many films begin their journey to glory.

Throughout his tenure as star of the Transformers franchise, nobody predicted that Shia LaBeouf would become an acclaimed screenwriter; but that’s exactly what he is following the premiere of his autobiographical film Honey Boy, which was directed by Alma Har'el.

LaBeouf co-stars as a character based on his own father in the film, which received a standing ovation at its Sundance premiere.

As depicted in Honey Boy, which chronicles the tumultuous relationship between a young Hollywood star (played at different ages by Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges) and his abusive father, LaBeouf was instructed to document his childhood traumas as part of his alcohol rehabilitation.

The narrative takeaways: honesty results in great storytelling, screenwriters should listen to their therapists.

Other Sundance premieres making waves on the storytelling front include Joe Berlinger’s Ted Bundy film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, the Mindy Kaling/Emma Thompson dramedy Late Night, which Amazon has acquired (in addition to enhancing the interrogation film The Report), and Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chada’s Bruce Springsteen-themed, 80s-set movie Blinded By The Light.

I Am Mother, a high-concept, dystopian sci-fi thriller adapted from a screenplay that showed up on the 2016 Black List, is also getting a positive reception from audiences.

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