Monday, July 22, 2024

Box Office: Oscar Buzzed “La La Land” Sings Up a Storm with $855K in 5 Theaters


Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” sang up a storm over the weekend: $855,000 in just five theaters. And that number may go up after today’s receipts are counted properly. “La La Land” should sweep the Critics Choice Awards tonight on A&E, then rack up a bunch of nominations in the morning with the Golden Globes. The Oscars are beckoning. Only Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” will prove to be competition.

I watched “La La Land” last night again for the first time since it debuted in Toronto. It is really a work of genius. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are perfection– Gosling isn’t getting enough kudos for his Gene Kelly-like performance and his musicianship. He’s playing a lot of that piano! He and Stone really make for a dreamy old fashioned Hollywood couple.

Much has been written about Justin Hurwitz’s original score, which reminds of Gershwin, Sondheim, and Cole Porter. He’s got two songs in there that are knockouts– “Audition” and “City of Stars.” But John Legend has a hit single on this soundtrack called “Start a Fire.” I hope it gets released. I wonder why it’s not on Legend’s new album? That’s a marketing error, I think.

“La La Land” is arresting and exciting from the minute it begins on the LA freeway. But the real clincher is that “five years later…” retelling of the movie from another point of view.  This is Chazelle’s grand gesture. Woody Allen says no one ever talks about him as an influence, but that sequence has to be generated by memories of “Annie Hall” as Alvy remembers their romance. It worked then and it works now.

I didn’t even get into the cinematography– the colors bursting off the screen. Or the editing of the flying sequence (again, a little Woody nod to “Everyone Says I Love You”).

Now– all I want to know is when “La La Land” is coming to Broadway. Because you know, it is, it will be, and it will be a massive hit if the right people are involved and it’s not just another movie adaptation. I don’t know why, but I feel like Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliott”) and Baz Luhrmann must be fighting over it already!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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