The box office this weekend brought a lot of surprises.
Neil Burger’s “The Upside” finished at number 1, a whisper under $20 million. Kevin Hart, embroiled in the Oscar hosting scandal, stars with Bryan Cranston, who is currently also on track for a Tony Award on Broadway in the sold out “Network.”
Nicole Kidman co-stars in “The Upside,” and she’s also in the number 2 movie, “Aquaman.” And she’s on target for an Oscar nod in her indie film, “Destroyer,” which Annapurna Pictures has put zero effort into. But that’s another story.
“The Upside” is the American remake of the great French film, “The Intouchables,” which was a hit for The Weinstein Company several years ago. Harvey Weinstein– I know, you can’t say his name– had the idea to remake it in English, bought the rights, and guided the project. Everyone hates Harvey now, but his filmmaking radar was exceptional. He wanted Hart and Cranston, Kidman was a Miramax/Weinstein regular. It all fell into place.
Weinstein premiered “The Upside” at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival, where it played like gangbusters in Roy Thomson Hall. The plan was for a late December qualifying run and then a January launch much like the one the movie got this week. But two weeks later the stories broke about Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, and you know the rest.
“The Upside” is not “The Intouchables,” but it’s highly entertaining, and the performances are excellent. I’m not surprised it’s a hit. Word of mouth should give it “legs” like crazy.
Meanwhile, Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule” heads to $100 million. Today it crossed the $90 million mark. It’s like printing money. If it gets no Oscar nominations– and it should– “The Mule” will be yet another big hit not represented on the Academy Awards telecast, a movie most people will have seen. Crazy.