Since the inaugural post for this section in March I've inadvertently left it dormant. I watched It's Complicated very recently so thought it would be an appropriate next entry. One of my favorite things about re-watching Streep films is that I catch these little things I missed in previous viewings. Of course one does that with every movie, but particularly with Meryl there are so many layers and subtleties to her performances that it's next to impossible to notice everything on the first go around.
I think we tend to think of this picture as a rom-com and total lifestyle porn. It probably is, but Streep's character of Jane Adler goes through some pretty complicated interesting emotional situations. The modern family dynamic following divorce is explored from the point of view of an independent mother of three adult children. Let's not forget that the film came out when Meryl was 60 years old, which makes the fact that it made $112 domestically pretty astonishing. At the end of 2009 Streep had sort of cemented her 'later-bloomer' box office draw standing. Following 2006's The Devil Wears Prada, 2008's Mamma Mia! and summer 2009's Julie & Julia, we'd enjoyed an unprecedented string of commercial successes for Streep which she has yet to match. The four films mentioned averaged $119 million in the U.S.
Florence Foster Jenkins is entering its second full week in cinemas. I thought it'd be a good time to take the pulse of the film's box office performance. Up to this point, I'd say it's doing ok. Knowing that its aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes was certified "fresh" at 86%, I had thought it might be a bit of a sleeper success this summer, as a niche option for adult movie-going compared to the typical tentpole superhero flicks. Ultimately, however, the film has basically fared identically to the the less-than-stellar Ricki and the Flash a year ago. At the same point in 2015, Ricki sat at $15.2m, while Florence has netted $15m.
I wonder if the overall quality of Florence might give it a bit better lasting potential, however. I definitely have to agree with the critics that Florence is a better film, which possibly could result in word-of-mouth sustaining potential. If that were the case though, I think we would've seen a bigger jump in its second weekend, where instead, it did the same numbers as Ricki. If the trend continues, we should expect that Florence will top out around $26m domestically. On an estimated $29m budget, that total would technically make Florence less financially successful than Ricki, which only cost around $18m.
It's not as if on paper Florence would be a huge draw. A 1940's-era dramedy about a bad opera singer doesn't exactly scream blockbuster. Getting an overall sense of whether the film has met expectations is therefore a bit tricky, but I'd wager the studio was hoping for better. That said, it's by no means a flop, and I think those involved are likely pleased with the overall quality of the film.
Thanks to an anonymous post, earlier today I was alerted to an article in "Out" where Meryl is apparently quoted in a press junket saying that she will not be pursuing Master Class, the HBO production of Terrence McNally's play about opera diva Maria Callas. Mike Nichols was set to direct the film prior to his death in November 2014. Production was to begin in early 2015.
What's interesting, however, is that I decided to search for any other news on this possible quote, and the only other recent blurb I found was this from the Boston Herald, where again Master Class is mentioned. A direct question was posed to Meryl asking "where does that stand?" Her quoted answer here is a bit less definitive. She explains that after Nichols' death and the depth to which the two of them had gone into preparations for the production, she essentially lost interest in doing it without him. But it seemed a bit ambiguous in regard to the possibility that she would be open to doing it if someone else were at the helm.
My take away from this information is that Master Class is not going to be made with Meryl Streep starring. I don't think it's 100% dead, and being that it's such a compelling story and has gone through so many struggles to come to the screen, I hope it does eventually get made, even if it doesn't star Meryl. However, I'm surrendering hope that Streep has any immediate involvement in the film. Unfortunate.
Florence Foster Jenkins opened nationwide yesterday. So, in traditional fashion, I met up with Scooter and his new beau, Joe (copycat), to take in the movie for a second time. In a much larger theater than the one (my) Joe and I experienced in London, what most struck me about this second viewing is how truly funny the film is. I recall a fair amount of giggling in London, but this time people were doing what I call the "quiet laugh," where they're laughing so hard you don't really hear much actually coming out after a while. This made me laugh harder as well, particularly after a few of the sort of 'barks' that come out of Meryl's mouth during her Carnegie Hall performance.
The theater wasn't completely full, and of course our trio was probably on average fifteen years younger than the majority of viewers, but that's typically standard operating procedure for many Meryl films. In general this encore experience solidified for me that not only is Florence a great film, but that Meryl's performance is truly astonishing. Specifically how challenging, and therefore how impressive it is to achieve the nuanced "badness" of singing she was adept at portraying. On multiple occasions last night I found myself thinking "nobody else could do that."
Its opening night gathered a modest $2 million on a total of about 1500 screens...half the number of theaters for the six films above it Friday night. Hopefully everyone gets out there and sees it!
Today is a big day. Not only does Florence Foster Jenkins open wide in the United States, but it also marks the five year anniversary of Word on the Streep! After over 600 posts and page hits from six continents, this blog continues to be a thoroughly enjoyable endeavor. Much of that enjoyment has come from the wonderful dialogue I've been privileged to have with readers and commenters over the years. Your thoughts and opinions help make the experience that much more thrilling. For that, I thank you! And as always, thank you, Joe, for setting it up.
I'm excited to see what Meryl has in store for us in the next several years. No matter what it is, I'm sure it'll be special. Here's to another five years!
With Florence Foster Jenkins set to make its U.S. debut in under a week, we're seeing a lot of Meryl for promotional purposes. Earlier this week, she and her castmates Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg joined moderator Annette Insdorf for a conversation about the film.
I don't really have much to say about it. It's a fairly long interview, and I sometimes feel bad that all the questions from the audience almost always seem to be directed only to Meryl. But of course if I were allowed a question it wouldn't be for either of the men. Glad to hear also that Meryl says she can't resist opportunities as they come and implies that she'll continued to do so because she loves her work. She's also up for a run on stage. I know that will please many readers.
As I discussed in the last post of this section, by 2006, Meryl had gone the longest she's ever spent without a lead acting nomination at the Oscars. Running into Helen Mirren's performance in The Queen that year meant that despite ending the lead nomination drought, she would go home empty-handed. The period after that year, however, would begin a decade-long wealth of high-profile lead roles which garnered for Streep unprecedented (for her) box-office success, critical accolades and industry honors.
So by the time Doubt hit theaters in late 2008, she had already enjoyed financial success in both The Devil Wears Prada and Mamma Mia!. A starring role as famed chef Julia Child for 2009's Julie & Julia was already in the can as well. It had been since Sophie's Choice (1982) that she had received a major awards win for a leading role, and ten straight losses at the Academy Awards could maybe even persuade the most jaded member to finally give Streep that elusive second lead trophy.
At the Golden Globes that year, Kate Winlset took home the awards for both lead drama and supporting categories for Revolutionary Road and The Reader, respectively. It was a pleasant surprise when at the SAGs, just a couple weeks later, Meryl was recognized for her role as Sister Aloysius, holding off Winslet. What seemed like a sure thing for Winslet turned out to cast some doubt on whether she would be able to come through at the Oscars.
Well, Winslet's role in The Reader thenended up being campaigned in the leading category at both the BAFTAs and Academy Awards. She was doubly nominated at the BAFTAs in lead (Revolutionary Road), but there is a rule at the Academy Awards that one cannot receive two acting nominations in the same category. Thus, The Reader won out and Meryl made it eleven straight losses. She'd be back the following year for the aforementioned Julie & Julia.
The full list of nominees in Meryl's category that year were:
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)
Below you'll see Meryl's SAG win with the Best Actress Academy Award presentation following.