The Möbius Strip- Confusing Oscar race is set as box office suffers worst Super Bowl weekend in almost 20 years

Super Bowl weekend is always bad news for the box office, but this was one of the worst weekends in history, with movies only making $73.4 million total, with no individual film making even as much as $10 million. Glass earned its third box office crown by default with $9.5 million, and The Upside hung around for its third second-place finish with $8.7 million. Newcomer Miss Bala failed to really get off the ground, earning just $6.7 million for third place. Christmas week superhero releases Aquaman and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse continued to swim or swing around in fourth and fifth place with $4.9 million and $4.5 million, respectively- Box Office Mojo

The $73.4 million represents the worst Super Bowl weekend in almost 20 years- The Hollywood Reporter

Miss Bala Director Catherine Hardwicke, best known for directing Twilight more than 10 years ago, talks about shooting the film in Mexico, pulling together a cast that was more than 90 percent Hispanic and her duty as a prominent woman filmmaker- The Hollywood Reporter

Sixteen years and eight films after her directorial debut, Hardwicke talks about the ways women directors are at a disadvantage from the very start- Indiewire

Though the Super Bowl traditionally chokes the box office, it’s not without merit for movie lovers. Here’s all the trailers and spots that debuted around the big game- Empire

On the streaming side of things, there was a major release to Netflix this week in writer/director Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw, which turned heads when its trailer dropped in early January and debuted at Sundance in between. Gilroy talks about partnering with his star, most often Jake Gyllenhaal, who stars in Buzzsaw as he did in Gilroy’s 2014 directorial debut, Nightcrawler- Film School Rejects

The once-anticipated Serenity dropped all the way to 14th place in just its second weekend in release with $1.7 million, and new statements confirm that distributor Aviron Pictures deliberately bailed on the film after repeated failures with test audiences and critics. Aviron agreed to put out advertising commensurate with a 2,500 theater release, but almost completely swallowed the film, moving it from Oct. 19 to a Jan. 25 release and completely ceasing its marketing. Writer/director Steven Knight and Oscar-winning stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are reportedly furious, having signed on and been ready for a full press junket only to learn the distributor had abandoned the cause just as they were about to leave for Los Angeles- Deadline

As press begins to spool up for next week’s releases, star Liam Neeson made a startling confession about an incident in his past. After learning someone close to him had been raped by a black man, Neeson says he spent a week and a half wandering the streets with a cudgel, hoping a “black bastard” would confront him so that he would have an excuse to murder him. Neeson related his reaction back to his childhood during The Troubles and to his action roles over the past 10 years- The Independent

Epic Stone Group has filed suit against 20th Century Fox for trademark infringement and unfair competition over Alita: Battle Angel, which opens Valentine’s Day. Epic, which doesn’t seem to have much of a web presence, is alleging they have been selling merchandise under the “Battle Angel” trademark since 2009, and that Fox is trying to deliberately confuse consumers by selling a movie and merchandise with the same brand. The movie is based on the manga Battle Angel Alita, which originally ran from 1990-95 and sold more than 50 million copies in that timespan. Epic is requesting an injunction on all marketing related to this $150 million movie that is onto its second release date, that all related merchandise be offered up for impoundment and that Fox be required to give its profits from the movie to Epic Stone Group- The Hollywood Reporter

Best Actor favorite Remi Malek talked about the Bryan Singer allegations at the Santa Barbera Film Festival over the weekend. Malek stands to win Best Actor for his role in Bohemian Rhapsody, which was directed by Singer, who’s long history of sexual abuse allegations was detailed by The Atlantic two weeks ago. Singer was fired from the production with two weeks left to go because he wasn’t showing up for work, and there were rumors of he and Malek clashing on set. Malek had previously denied knowing about the allegations against Singer, which date back to the early ‘00s. Despite his firing, Singer still stands to make an estimated $40 million on the film- The Hollywood Reporter

Several guilds held their awards ceremonies over the week. In the biggest news, Alfonso Cuarón won the Director’s Guild of America award for Roma, and heavy favorite for the first-time director award Bradley Cooper was upset by Bo Burnham who won for Eighth Grade- Variety

The Favourite and, despite having some of the worst editing I’ve ever seen, Bohemian Rhapsody earned best editing awards at the American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards on Friday – The Hollywood Reporter

Rhapsody editor John Ottman said his job on the film was to balance the separate stories of Queen, Freddie Mercury and the AIDS crisis, a balance the film does an absolutely terrible job of striking. Apparently, the narrative behind the award is that Ottman was persevering under difficult circumstances after director Bryan Singer was fired with two weeks left in production- Indiewire

From a production design standpoint, it looks like Black Panther and The Favourite are on a collision course after winning the Ard Director’s Guild awards for fantasy and period films, respectively- The Playlist

As expected, Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse cleaned house at the Annie Awards, taking home Best Animated Feature, Best Character Animation, Directing, Writing and Animated Feature Production awards. It has been a lock for the Best Animated Feature Oscar for some time- The Playlist

This has been a bizarre and confused Oscar season. There is no clear or even ostensible favorite heading into the Feb. 24 awards ceremony, with very little overlap between the best predictive awards – the producer’s, directors’ and actors guilds all went with different picks, some of which were quite shocking, and only a couple of the Best Picture nominees are also nominated for the crucial director, screenplay and editing categories.

With every other awards ceremony said and done and the dust nowhere near settled, Nate Jones tries to make sense of the Best Picture race- Vulture

All of this comes after another embarrassing week for a ceremony that just seems lost. It was confirmed this week that all five Best Song nominees would be performed, as is custom – but only two were on the schedule when it was initially announced- Variety

Are the Oscars embarrassed to be the Oscars?- The New York Times

The Academy has traditionally favored movies that are based in historical fact, but most movies that are “based on a true story” present something that is far from the truth. What’s at stake if we allow Hollywood to re-write history?- The Guardian

As much as the public Tweets about diversity at the Oscars and as much as the Academy scrambles to comply, film festivals are leading the charge. At Sundance, 40 percent of officially selected films are directed or co-directed by women, up from just 3 percent in 2018, and 63 percent of invited press are from under-represented groups. Additionally, GLAAD will present its own curated version of the black list of favorite unproduced scripts with an LGBT bent- Variety

The Berlin Film Festival has signed a gender parity pledge, following in the footsteps of Cannes, Venice, Rome and others. The pledge states the festival will strive for gender parity in top management positions and publish figures on the gender of directors for submitted films- The Hollywood Reporter

Sundance wrapped up over the weekend, with the Grand Jury Prize going to One Child Nation, a documentary about China’s policy of only allowing its citizens to bear one child. Amazon Studios bought the film for a high six-figure deal- Variety

Here’s a complete list of purchases from the festival- Indiewire

Sundance filmmakers talk about their camera choices and the reasoning behind them- Indiewire

One of the most prominent faces at Sundance is comedian Jim Gaffigan, who has roles in three different festival entries. Gaffigan talks about his under-the-radar film career- Indiewire

Looking back on The Blair Witch Project 20 years after its 1999 Sundance premiere- Film School Rejects

Without a streaming home after Filmstruck’s folding last November, the Criterion Collection is launching its own streaming service, the Criterion Channel, in April- Indiewire

Last night at the Television Critics Association tour, FX CEO John Landgraf went off on Netflix, accusing the streaming service of cherry-picking statistics and substantially inflating its viewership numbers by using metrics that are much more forgiving than the industry norms- CNN

As the Chinese market grows ever more important for big-budget movies’ bottom lines, it was only a matter of time before the country would start producing its own. The Wandering Earth, which was made for more than $50 million and is being described as China’s first big-budget science fiction epic, will release Feb. 5 – and Feb. 8 in 22 U.S. cities- The Hollywood Reporter

The British Film Institute is reporting that the U.K. spent £3.7 billion ($4.05 billion U.S.) on film and high-end television production in 2018- The Hollywood Reporter

Sony Pictures posted Quarter 3 profits – the Japanese fiscal year ends in March – of  ¥11.6 billion ($107 million U.S.), notably boosted by surprise hits in Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The company as a whole is reporting net profits of $3.78 billion, boosted primarily by its music division- Variety

As bizarre as its success was in America, Oscar favorite Bohemian Rhapsody is doing bonkers business in Japan, with cosplay and sing-along screenings keeping it at or near the top of the Japanese box office for 13 weeks running. It is now at the top of the Japanese 2018 box office by more than $12 million, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” the song has had a massive resurgence in popularity at Japanese karaoke parlors- The Hollywood Reporter

Julie Adams, best known for her role in 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon, died over the weekend at age 92- The Hollywood Reporter

A few days earlier, Dick Miller, who appeared in more than 100 films over a 64-year career, died of natural causes last week in his Los Angeles home, surrounded by his wife of 60 years, their daughter and grand-daughter. The Navy veteran was 90- AV Club

Actor and singer Jussie Smollett, best known for his role in the Fox drama Empire, was hospitalized last week in Chicago after being assaulted by two men in a likely hate crime. Smollett, who is black and gay and plays a gay character on Empire, told police that two white men in ski masks yelled racial and homosexist slurs as they attacked him, saying, “This is MAGA country,” referring to the Donald Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again,” which is decidedly not true – Illinois, and especially the Chicago area, voted overwhelmingly against the president in the last cycle. The two men poured an unknown liquid on Smollett and put a noose around his neck. Smollett fought them off and walked himself to Northwestern Memorial, where he was released “in good condition” later in the morning- Variety

Smollett’s attack shows that visibility does not protect LGBT people- Out Magazine

Smollett was back on stage over the weekend, saying he “Can’t let the mother fuckers win”- Variety

As Warner Bros. and Sony have floundered for years while trying to keep up with Disney and its superhero-driven financial bliss, Universal has oddly had no trouble keeping up thanks to consistent $1 billion showings from the Fast and the Furious and Jurassic World franchises. Now, with a new trailer for the first Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, they’re finally taking superheroes on directly- The Hollywood Reporter

Hobbs himself Dwayne Johnson talks about his ambitions for his burgeoning career as a producer, and continues to not say “no” to a presidential bid- Indiewire

Alia Shawkat, still best known for Arrested Development almost 20 years later, talks at length about her career and her new film Animals, which premiered at Sundance last week- Vulture

Behold: the script for the Sopranos/Sex and the City crossover you never knew you wanted- AV Club

And finally, how Damien Chazelle’s First Man re-frames the triumphant space race as the harrowing journey of a single man-

Leopold Knopp is a UNT graduate. If you liked this post, you can donate to Reel Entropy here. Like Reel Entropy on Facebook and reach out to me at

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