Angelina Jolie has just beaten two giants.
Jolie’s second work as a director, Unbroken, is now expected to be the top film at the Christmas Day box office, besting Disney’s Into the Woods as well as the final installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.
Unbroken is on track to earn $15.6 million in Christmas Day ticket sales, according to Deadline, outpacing Into the Woods, which was initially expected to be the day’s big winner with an estimated $13.6 million in sales.
The film, which Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson calls “respectfully, carefully made”, is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling biography of Louis Zamperini, the real life Olympic runner turned World War II airman turned P.O.W. Jolie directed the cast that includes Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney, Miyavi, Domhnall Gleeson, Finn Wittrock, and Jack O’Connell. (See Vanity Fair’s photo shoot with the cast here.) Unbroken has also earned an A- at Cinemascore.
Jolie told Vanity Fair what she hoped audiences would take away from the film: “The main message [of the movie] is about how you choose to live your life—that there is greatness in everyone.”
The box office triumph must be doubly sweet for Jolie, after the hopeful Oscar contender was overlooked by both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. While she waits for the Oscar nominations to be announced, Jolie has nominations for best picture, director, adapted screenplay and cinematography from the Critics’ Choice Awards (plus Brad Pitt) to keep her warm at night.
For awards watchers, there was one last film that remained to be seen — until Sunday, when Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” played for audiences in Los Angeles and New York. Though the film had premieres in Australia and London, reviews are under embargo until Monday. But judging by the guild screenings in L.A., Universal Pictures has a heavy hitter on its hands. The film is a surefire best picture nominee, with Jolie likely to break into the director race. Acting categories might be harder to crack with such stiff competition, but star Jack O’Connell could make his way into the best actor race, and supporting actor Miyavi also has a fair shot for playing the main villain.
The film first screened in the morning for the SAG Nominating Committee, ending to rapturous applause. SAG is generally a warm audience and the star presence of Jolie certainly helped the excitement. But a standing ovation was given not only for Jolie but star O’Connell, who was clearly caught off guard. Also joining in the Q&A, moderated by Variety’s Jenelle Riley, were actors Garrett Hedlund, Domhnall Gleeson and Miyavi.
“Unbroken” comes with an impressive pedigree; Joel and Ethan Coen are among the credited writers who adapted Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller and the cinematography is by the great Roger Deakins, who has 11 Oscar nominations for his previous work, including “No Country for Old Men” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” It tells the true story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, who, as a soldier in WWII, survived in a life raft lost at sea for 47 days before being sent to a Japanese prison camp for over two years.
While the panel spoke with great reverence about working on the film and Zamperini, who died earlier this year, there were moments of humor as well. Most of the cast lost weight to portray the difficult conditions they were in, to which Gleeson noted he was happy to do it for a great film. “You don’t want to starve yourself for a sh—y movie,” he said. When Hedlund revealed he earned his SAG card for the film “Troy,” Riley pointed out that the star of that movie (Jolie’s husband, Brad Pitt) is a pretty good actor. Quipped Gleeson about his father, “Brendan Gleeson is really good in it, too.”
Full article at Variety.com
Before U.S. Olympian-turned-WWII hero Louis Zamperini died on July 2 at age 97, director Angelina Jolie showed him the film she’s made about him (in theaters Dec. 25), adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 best-seller. “I brought it on my laptop to the hospital,” Jolie says. “It was a deeply moving, very profound few hours of my life. Telling his story is a giant responsibility.”
It was certainly an extraordinary life: Zamperini competed in the 1936 Olympics in track, enlisted with the U.S. Air Force in WWII, survived a crash into the Pacific, spent 47 days marooned on a raft, and then endured over two years of torture in a Japanese POW camp. Playing Zamperini was no easy task. Jack O’Connell, a veteran of British TV’s teen drama Skins, had to lose nearly 30 pounds to appear emaciated in key scenes. “You learn not to think of your own problems,” he says. “That’s something you can attribute to Louie and Angie—they both strive to be selfless every day.”
Luckily, not every day was so grueling: One night, O’Connell formed an impromptu band with producer Matthew Baer and costars Garrett Hedlund (who plays a fellow prisoner) and Miyavi (a real-life Japanese rocker who portrays a sadistic guard in the film). Their tunes included “Angie” by the Rolling Stones and, of course, the Kingsmen classic “Louie Louie.”