'Still Alice' and 'Maps to the Star's box office: Julianne Moore Oscar helps only one movie
(See previous post: “'The Lazarus Effect' Box Office: Olivia Wilde Horror Movie Arrives Comatose.”) The Oscars do matter. As mentioned in the previous post, Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman was up an estimated 125 percent this weekend, Feb. 27-March 1, '15, following its four Academy Award wins – including Best Picture. Also up a hefty 24 percent – after adding 553 locations – is Sony Pictures Classics' Still Alice, which earned Julianne Moore the year's Best Actress Oscar for her performance as a woman in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Oscars' box office boost
True, an Oscar win – or key nominations – may not create mammoth blockbusters like Francis Lawrence's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, Sam Taylor-Johnson's Fifty Shades of Grey, or Clint Eastwood's American Sniper. For that, you need title recognition and/or a massive (and cleverly targeted) marketing blitz.
But the Oscars clearly do help smaller movies such as Birdman, Still Alice, and James Marsh's The Theory of Everything (up an estimated 17 percent), which stars Best Actor Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking.
Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (The Last of Robin Hood, Sundance winner Quinceañera), on its seventh weekend out Still Alice raked in $2.69 million at 1,318 U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Per theater, the family-psychological drama averaged $2,045.
'Still Alice' among Top Ten
Also worth noting, this post-Oscar weekend, Still Alice managed for the first time to crack the Top Ten at the domestic box office.
Still Alice's North American cume has reached an estimated $11.98 million, in addition to about $1.5 million from a handful of international territories. Not bad at all for a $5 million-budgeted drama dealing with highly disturbing issues: illness, death, the loss of self.
Monday, March 2, update: According to official figures, Still Alice grossed $2.65 million, averaging $2,012 per site. Its current cume stands at $11.94 million.
Julianne Moore's Still Alice co-stars are Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, Shane McRae, and Alec Baldwin.
'Maps to the Star's box office
Still Alice benefited from Julianne Moore's Best Actress Academy Award, but considerably less lucky this weekend was another Julianne Moore star vehicle. That's David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, strategically released so as to get some box office traction from Moore's Oscar victory.
Co-starring Robert Pattinson (coincidentally, Still Alice co-star Kristen Stewart's leading man in the five Twilight Saga movies), Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird, John Cusack, Sarah Gadon, Olivia Williams, and Star Wars' Carrie Fisher, Cronenberg's Sunset Blvd.-ish comedy has been hindered by both mixed reviews and an apparent lack of interest from distributor Focus World.
Maps to the Stars currently has a 60 percent approval rating and 6.3/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. That's certainly better than the ratings for the previous David Cronenberg-Robert Pattinson collaboration, the 2012 ride Cosmopolis: 51 percent approval and 5.8/10 average. (See also: “Cosmopolis bombs at U.S. box office: Anti-Robert Pattinson bias?”)
But that's definitely not good enough for a small, not-at-all-mainstream-friendly movie in dire need of as much critical support as possible. For comparison's sake, Still Alice's Rotten Tomatoes score is 92 percent approval and 7.8/10 average among the site's top critics.
'Maps to the Stars' gets no Oscar leftovers
Budgeted at a reported $15 million, Maps to the Stars collected an estimated $139,000 this weekend at 66 venues – or about 40 percent more than early estimates indicated. Even so, that represents only $2,106 per screen.
Now, bear in mind that Maps to the Stars is also available on VOD. Pathetically, studios are reluctant to make public these increasingly important revenue figures.
Monday, March 2 update: According to official figures, Maps to the Stars grossed $143,422, averaging $2,173 per site.
Little-to-no chance during 2015-2016 awards season
Expect Maps to the Stars to disappear fast from U.S. screens. And there's little chance of it being remembered during the 2015-2016 awards season.
David Cronenberg's film opened in the Los Angeles area last December – one daily screening for one week to qualify it for the Golden Globes. It worked: Julianne Moore did get a nomination in the Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical category.
So, it's mind-boggling that distributor Focus World – a division of Focus Features, itself a division of the mega-conglomerate NBCUniversal – opted not to give Maps to the Stars a decent push in 2015 instead of a one-week, for-your-consideration-if-you're-a-mind-reader run late last year.
Especially considering Julianne Moore's Best Actress win at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Needless to say, Maps to the Stars is ineligible for the 88th Academy Awards.
Cult classic in the making?
Unfortunately, the Canadian Screen Awards don't have the mainstream appeal of the Oscars. Maps to the Stars was in the running for 11 of those, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (Bruce Wagner), and nominations for just about every cast member.*
But all isn't necessarily lost. Don't be too surprised if Maps to the Stars resurfaces as a cult classic a decade or two from now, with Julianne Moore hailed as the Gloria Swanson / Norma Desmond of the early 21st century.
* The 2015 Canadian Screen Award winners were announced on Feb. 28. Xavier Dolan's Mommy swept the awards, with nine wins including Best Picture.
Julianne Moore lost the Best Actress Canadian Screen Award to Anne Dorval for her titular performance in Mommy.
Upcoming Julianne Moore movies
Following her Best Actress Oscar win for Still Alice and the currently in release Maps to the Stars, Julianne Moore will next be seen in:
Peter Sollett's Freeheld, based on the real-life story of a lesbian couple battling terminal illness, financial issues, and prejudice. Moore will once again be playing a dying woman. Ellen Page is her lover.
Also in the Freeheld cast: Steve Carell. Luke Grimes. Michael Shannon. Mary Birdsong. Dennis Boutsikaris. Screenplay by Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia, The Painted Veil).
Cynthia Wade's Freeheld (2007) won the Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short category.
Also in the Mockingjay 2 cast: Sam Claflin. Elizabeth Banks. Willow Shields. Jena Malone. Natalie Dormer. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Stanley Tucci. Woody Harrelson. Donald Sutherland. Robert Knepper. Toby Jones. Jeffrey Wright.
“Still Alice vs. Maps to the Stars: Julianne Moore Oscar Helps One Film” is an updated and revised version of an article initially posted on Feb. 28, '15.
Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore Still Alice photo: Sony Pictures Classics.
Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars photo: Focus World.
Image of Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1: Lionsgate.