The Friday after the Oscar nominations usually sees a flurry of activity as studios try to expand their nominated films into more theaters to capitalize on the publicity. The hitch this year is that the nominations were announced on a Thursday morning rather than earlier in the week, which didn’t leave a whole lot of time to book more screens once the names were read out. We’ll undoubtedly see a lot of bumps next week, and it’s not as if there aren’t a good 40 or so days until the actual awards. But it has made the post-nomination Friday just a bit quieter than usual. Zero Dark Thirty was always planned to go wide today — it was shoe-in for a good amount of Oscar attention, so planning its expansion for the day after the nominations made sense — but Sony has to be happy at their timing, even if they can’t tout Kathryn Bigelow as an Oscar nominee. I already covered Zero Dark Thirty in a previous What I’d Watch when it trickled out into all of eight theaters. That should give you an idea of how much I’m anticipating it, and you can rest assured it’s the one to see ahead of the other films opening this weekend.
The more movies like A Haunted House I see, the more I miss magazines like Mad and Cracked and Crazy. They could be reliably turned to for spoofs of particular movies or genres that didn’t require two hours of your time, and usually had more — and better — jokes. Sure, Mel Brooks and Airplane! were viable cinematic equivalents, but the recent run of _______ Movie clones aren’t exactly camping out in that neighborhood. What’s really annoying about these kinds of films is that they’re almost immediately dated, filled with pop culture references whose freshness has passed sometimes before the film is even released. And there’s no cleverness behind the references, just a cheap laugh of recognition and that’s that. Not that any of this will keep A Haunted House from making money. If Meet the Spartans can do $80 million, anything is possible.
The title Gangster Squad almost sounds like it’s supposed to be a spoof as well, but nobody’s been laughing all that much over this film. Originally set to open last September, it was famously moved in the wake of the Aurora shooting, and retooled due to a scene that depicted moviegoers being shot at with machine guns. Fortunately, apparently less upsetting scenes of people being shot in non-theater settings remain intact. I get the nod towards sensitivity, but was the scene in question somehow worse than other violent scenes solely on the basis of applicability? If we’re forever forbidden from scenes that recall actual traumatic events, we’re going to find ourselves awfully limited. As it is, the notoriety will probably help Gangster Squad at the box office, although I doubt it’s got the muscle to overtake Zero Dark Thirty.
And in the wake of the Oscar nominations, it’s time for my annual game of Did I See All the Best Picture Nominees? So far, I’ve seen six of the nine. Zero Dark Thirty will likely get crossed off the list sometime this weekend, although I’m still having a hard time mustering up much enthusiasm to go see Life of Pi. And Amour is in all of three theaters nationwide, although that’s bound to change in the wake of its hefty haul of nominations. I’m still rooting for Lincoln at this point, but maybe one of these last three can change my mind.