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Breaking Big: Welcome to The Show, Chadwick Boseman

“I don’t know who he is… or where he is… but he’s coming.” —Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) in 42

Jackie Robinson was already 28 when he made history, a grown man who’d struggled and thrived in relative anonymity before he was handpicked to be the first African-American player in modern baseball. Perhaps that’s why Chadwick Boseman so ably tapped into his character in the film, 42—he possessed the same hunger, the same desire.

For most of the moviegoing audience, Boseman was a promising rookie, an overnight success with a bright future. But the now-37-year-old actor had been a working actor for more than a decade, appearing in theater, television, and smaller films. Not until he put on Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodger uniform, however, did the Hollywood star machine take notice. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): How Harrison Ford revealed his true 'character' in '42'

Harrison Ford is Harrison Ford because he made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, raced Nazis for lost treasure, and got the best of vengeful terrorists no matter the odds. Ford has been a movie star of the brightest magnitude for nearly 40 years, and not unlike Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood, he is most popular when he plays a version of his most heroic action-adventure characters. But this year, Ford went in another direction. In 42, the story of Jackie Robinson, he put on a fat-suit, wore a dowdy bow-tie, hid behind some facial prosthetics, and traded his iconic voice for a scholarly growl to play Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ executive who expedited the integration of Major League Baseball.

You might think someone of Ford’s pedigree can land any role he wants, but even at the height of his stardom, character roles like Rickey were not frequently available to him. “When I would occasionally suggest blurring the edges of the movie-star personality, it was often rejected,” says Ford. “If I wanted to wear a mustache or a beard, they’d say, ‘No, no, no, we paid for the face. We want to see you.’ But I was always anxious to play characters. That’s why when I was offered the first Jack Ryan movie, I said I think the script is great, but I’d rather play the Russian guy [ultimately played by Sean Connery] than Jack Ryan. They said, ‘Oh, no, no, no.'”

Not much had changed when 42‘s writer and director Brian Helgeland was casting Rickey, the supporting character in his modestly-budgeted sports film. READ FULL STORY

'Best Man Holiday': Does its success change the future of black film?

The Best Man Holiday, the R-rated sequel to 1999’s The Best Man, opened to $30.6 million this weekend, surprising box-office watchers who had predicted the $17 million film wouldn’t generate half of its ultimate take home. Yet to director Malcolm D. Lee, who wrote and produced the film along with its predecessor, the only surprise is how Hollywood hasn’t evolved its thinking toward films featuring black actors.

“I’m tired of the dismissive, marginalized way that movies starring African-American actors who don’t happen to be Will Smith or Denzel Washington or Kevin Hart, [are talked about when they] perform well at the box office,” Lee says. “Tyler Perry makes a movie and it’s number one almost every time. Think Like a Man was number one two weeks in a row. People talk about [Best Man Holiday] over-performing, but I feel like we got under-estimated.”

The majority of the audience for Best Man Holiday (87 percent) was African-American females,  90 percent of whom saw the original film. More important, the sequel generated an A+ with exit pollster Cinemascore indicating that the film should broaden out to a wider audience.

Lee is counting on it.
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The 15 most impressive box office performances of 2013 -- so far

We’re officially halfway through 2013, and if you’re an obsessive box office junkie like me, that means it’s time to reflect back on the past six months at the movies and give credit to some of the best box office performances so far this year.

By “best,” I don’t simply mean “highest grossing” — you can find that list here – I mean most impressive. Since each movie has its own budget, its own marketing costs, and its own distribution challenges, each movie also has its own standard for success. I like to judge films on their own rubrics — so I have!

This year, there were a lot of close calls. Films like Oz The Great and Powerful and This is the End were this close to making the list (A Good Day to Die Hard and Jack the Giant Slayer, meanwhile, were not), but not everything could make the cut. Thus, here is my totally-up-for-debate list of the 15 Most Impressive Box Office Performances of 2013 so far. (Shown in order of highest-to-lowest grossing)
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Box office report: 'Iron Man 3' leads with $72.5 million; 'The Great Gatsby' shines in second

If second place is the first loser — then this week, that’s a pretty great place to be. Warner Bros.’ literary adaptation The Great Gatsby stunned the industry today with a magnificent $51.1 million debut. Of course, that number wasn’t large enough to take down Disney’s superhero sequel, Iron Man 3, which topped the box office for a second weekend with $72.5 million, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Ah, the summer movie season: when films actually make money! (Provided that they’re not called Peeples.)

Iron Man 3, which had the second best opening of all time last weekend with $174.1 million, fell 58 percent in its second frame — a slimmer drop than Iron Man 2 managed (59 percent), but a heftier one than The Avengers scored (50 percent). Iron Man 3‘s gargantuan $72.5 million weekend gave it a sizzling $17,400 per theater average from 4,253 locations and lifted its domestic box office total to $284.9 million after just 10 days. Internationally, the film is proving even more invincible. The $200 million Marvel title has now earned $664.1 million overseas, led by massive business in Asia. Iron Man 3’s top two international markets are currently China ($95.3 million) and Korea ($54.1 million), and it has become the highest grossing film of all time in both Indonesia and Malaysia. Worldwide, Iron Man 3 has grossed a truly jaw-dropping $949 million, guaranteeing it will surpass $1 billion sometime this week.

In second place, Baz Luhrmann’s roaring ’20s drama The Great Gatsby took in $51.1 million — the third best opening weekend ever for a film that didn’t hit No. 1. (In 2004, The Day After Tomorrow debuted with $68.7 million but trailed Shrek 2. In 2009, Sherlock Holmes started with $62.3 million but couldn’t overtake Avatar.) The glossy F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, and Joel Edgerton, broke out at the box office despite middling reviews and a “B” CinemaScore grade. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: Will 'Gatsby' have a great opening?

Almost a full year after the first trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D adaptation of The Great Gatsby debuted, the much-buzzed-about (and long-delayed) F. Scott Fitzgerald tale is finally coming to the big screen. Gatsby will Charleston its way into theaters on Friday alongside Tyler Perry’s latest comedy, Peeples. Neither of the newcomers has a legitimate shot at taking out Iron Man 3, which will soar in its second weekend, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make an impact at the box office. To the contrary, Gatsby‘s prospects look surprisingly strong.

Here’s how the box office may look this weekend:
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Box office report: 'Iron Man 3' scores 2nd biggest debut ever with $175.3M, reaches $680M globally

Even Tony Stark would be impressed with Iron Man 3‘s incredible domestic opening weekend.

Disney’s $200 million superhero sequel earned $175.3 million in its first three days in North America from 4,253 theaters — the second best opening weekend of all time behind The Avengers‘ $207.4 million bow on this weekend a year ago. The film managed a robust $41,218 per theater average and got a big boost from IMAX screens, which accounted for $16.5 million of its opening weekend gross. About 45 percent of tickets sold were in the 3D format.

Like The Avengers, Iron Man 3 played to a broad spectrum of demographics with a tilt toward older men. According to Disney, audiences were 55 percent above the age of 25 and 61 percent male. Disney also reports that couples made up 52 percent of viewers, while families accounted for 27 percent, and teens 21 percent.

Iron Man 3 opened higher than both Iron Man ($98.6 million) and Iron Man 2 ($128.1 million), which isn’t all that surprising given that it’s arriving after The Avengers, which earned $623.4 million domestically and became the biggest hit of 2012. It’s difficult to imagine that Iron Man 3 could have garnered such impressive numbers without the boon of The Avengers — especially because Iron Man 2 was tepidly received by most viewers and ultimately finished with less than Iron Man ($312.4 million vs. $318.4 million). It’s to Marvel’s credit that they were able to augment interest in the Iron Man franchise with The Avengers. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Pain & Gain' leads slow weekend with $20 million; 'Iron Man 3' earns $195 million overseas

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In the final weekend before Iron Man 3 kicks off the summer movie season in earnest, Michael Bay’s R-rated action comedy Pain & Gain topped a slow weekend at the box office with $20 million from 3,277 theaters, giving it an average of $6,103 per location. The Paramount film achieved only a fraction of the opening weekend grosses of Bay’s Transformers films, but it only cost a fraction — just $26 million — of those films as well. It’s well on its way to profitability.

Pain & Gain, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, redeemed both stars following unimpressive box office results for action films earlier this year. Wahlberg’s Broken City petered out with just $19.7 million, while Johnson’s Snitch fared only slightly better, grossing $42.1 million. While both those films had darker, more serious tones, Pain & Gain was marketed as a sunny, over-the-top black comedy. Unfortunately, audience reaction wasn’t particularly sunny. Polled moviegoers issued Pain & Gain a dreadful “C+” CinemaScore. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Pain & Gain' maxes out with $7.5 million Friday

Michael Bay’s action comedy Pain & Gain flexed its box office muscles on Friday, earning $7.5 million on its first day in theaters. Paramount’s $26 million R-rated film, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, may take in about $21 million (in line with predictions) over the full weekend frame.

In second place, Tom Cruise’s sci-fi adventure Oblivion, which topped the chart last weekend with $37.1 million, dropped 62 percent from its opening day to $5.1 million, putting it on pace for a weekend in the $17.5 million range. The $120 million Universal film’s lackluster “B-” CinemaScore helps explain its hefty second weekend drop, though it will have amassed a solid $65 million by Sunday night. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Pain & Gain' hopes to do some heavy lifting on opening weekend

Oblivion, 42, Jurassic Park 3D, and Evil Dead have all achieved solid box office runs in April, but for the most part, this month has been nothing to write home about. The middling business trend will likely extend into this last weekend of April, as Pain & Gain (pictured) and The Big Wedding enter theaters. Basically, it’s the calm before the storm of Iron Man 3.

Here’s how the weekend may shake out:

1. Pain & Gain – $21 million
Michael Bay took a break from the Transformers franchise to make Pain & Gain, an action film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mark Wahlberg, for just $26 million. The Paramount release, based on a terrific series of articles in the Miami New Times, has a clear shot at winning the weekend. Though Wahlberg and Johnson each endured less-than-impressive results from Broken City and Snitch, respectively, earlier this year, those films felt dark and dour where Pain & Gain feels sunny and fun. Paramount has marketed the film aggressively, and Bay, whether you love him or hate him, has his fans. Pain & Gain is opening in 3,277 theaters, where it may earn about $21 million over its first three days. READ FULL STORY

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