On paper, “Unbroken,” the story of a bombardier who survives a crash in the Pacific Ocean only to be tortured by his Japanese captors, doesn’t sound much like a Christmas movie.
However, by emphasizing the inspirational elements of the incredible true story and director Angelina Jolie’s work behind the camera, the account of Louis Zamperini’s travails and ultimate triumph became one of the holiday’s biggest openers.
“At this time of year stories about faith and how strong the human spirit is do huge numbers,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations.
Bock compares “Unbroken” to “The Blind Side,” which also drew crowds in the big cities and Middle America by emphasizing uplift. “Unbroken” debuted to $31.7 million over the weekend and has made $47.3 million since opening on Christmas, stunning box office prognosticators who had expected it to make $10 million less than it collected. The oft-repeated mantra in trailers and other promotional materials, “If you can take it, you can make it,” gave the film a quasi-religious, redemptive aura that made it seem seasonally appropriate.
Opening on Christmas Day is director Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. The film tells the incredible true story of Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), a former Olympian and WWII bombardier whose plane crashed at sea in 1943. Zamperini and two crewmates floated adrift for 47 days and 2000 miles, eventually finding themselves caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a POW camp where Zamperini was targeted by a sadistic overseer. While Unbroken could have ended up a movie of the week on Lifetime, Jolie has crafted a film worthy of your time and money. For more on Unbroken, check out six clips, the trailer, and all our previous coverage.
At the New York City press day I participated in a press conference with Angelina Jolie, Jack O’Connell, Garret Hedlund, Miyavi, and Finn Wittrock. They talked about what it was like making the film, if it was tough getting a PG-13 rating, what it was like playing real people, how Jolie decided what pieces of the book to include, how the first cut was three and a half hours, the editing process, what the Coen Brothers contributed to the film, and a lot more. Hit the jump for what they had to say.
Angelina Jolie knew she was going to have to make some trims. The first cut of Unbroken, her sweeping World War II epic about the true-life adventures of Louis Zamperini — the U.S. airman who survived getting shot down over the Pacific and spending 47 days floating on a raft and two years being tortured in a Japanese prison camp — clocked in at four hours and 30 minutes. So, in late spring 2013, Jolie locked herself in an editing bay at Universal Studios, rolled up her sleeves and began whacking away at the footage.
A few days later, she emerged with a new version. She’d cut 10 minutes.
Of all the challenges Jolie faced directing and producing Unbroken — landing Joel and Ethan Coen to revise the screenplay (adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 best-seller); persuading Universal to greenlight the film with a $65 million budget; finding just the right star to portray the feisty, rebellious Zamperini (she went with unknown British actor Jack O’Connell); and shooting airplane battles in the skies over the Pacific (mostly CGI) and shark-attack scenes in a vast, endless ocean (a water tank on a soundstage in Australia) — by far the biggest headache was slimming the final cut to a still-meaty two hours and 17 minutes.
“Mom? I saw this thing over there — can I skateboard on it?” The “thing” is a freshly painted cyclorama inside the Los Angeles photo studio where, on a sunny day in November, Jolie is being photographed for her THR cover. And the blond girl in the hoodie who wants to skateboard on its rad curved surfaces is none other than Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, arguably the most genetically advantaged 8-year-old on Earth. Also possibly the most self-assured (“Wassup!” she greets a stranger, flashing a cocky grin). But the answer is no, Shiloh may not skateboard on the cyc wall. Some rules cannot be broken, even if your mother happens to be one of the biggest rule breakers of the year.
“I never had a plan for my life,” Jolie says after breaking the bad news to her daughter, then settling into a sofa with Zen-like calm. “I do what I want to do. And if suddenly tomorrow I couldn’t do anything, I could deal with that. I’d be happy at home being a mom.”
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay – Selma
David Fincher – Gone Girl
Alejandro G. Inarritu – Birdman
Angelina Jolie – Unbroken
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Source: Critic’s Choice
Added scans from newest issue of People magazine.
– Scans People – December 22 2014