Oscar news: ‘Interstellar’ soars at box office, preview of ‘The Gambler’

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Sara Hamedy details a brewing box office battle: “Christopher Nolan‘s space epic “Interstellar” had a promising launch at the box office with early showings. The film, which goes up against Disney’s animated film “Big Hero 6” this weekend, is expected to pull in $1.5 million in its first 24 hours, according to early estimates. As of Wednesday, tracking suggests “Big Hero 6” could open to up to $60 million, putting it slightly ahead of the roughly $55 million forecast for “Interstellar,” according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys.” Company Town

Sasha Stone makes a strong case for an expanded Documentary Feature category: By now, with 134 entries, it’s time for the Academy to acknowledge that documentary filmmakers are making an abundance of vital, important films right now. Five slots for Documentary Feature is simply nowhere near enough to honor the groundswell of non-fiction filmmaking. Since mainstream Hollywood seems more inclined towards fantasy, we need documentaries now more than ever. The Documentary category looks the way the feature film category SHOULD look and yet one allows for more than five and the other doesn’t.” Awards Daily 

Oscar experts: ‘Boyhood’ will win 5, ‘Interstellar’ 4, ‘Birdman’ 2

Ryan Lattanzio previews “The Gambler,” which will screen as part of the AFI Fest on Nov. 10. “Borrowing liberally from James Toback‘s original script, this remake of Karel Reisz’ 1974 thriller follows Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg, stepping into James Caan‘s shoes), an English professor and high-stakes gambler who borrows from a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) and hands over his own life as collateral. As he enters an illicit underground world (what else is new?), Bennett juggles his wealthy mother (Jessica Lange), a loan shark (John Goodman) and a relationship with a student (Brie Larson). Thompson on Hollywood

As Matt Patches notes: “The around-the-corner 2014 AFI Festival is a cavalcade of awards contenders… with limited space. The films AFI selects are among the best of the best. But not everything fits. Not everything wants to fit. Example: As if to divert attention with its own, non-festival fanfare, The Weinstein Company’s “Big Eyes” will premiere at Los Angeles County Museum of Art “Film Independent” screening on on Thursday, Nov. 13 — the final night of AFI Fest.” In Contention

Oscars flashback: How smart or stupid were Experts at this point last year? 

Amy Kaufman reveals: “It took years for the filmmakers behind “The Theory of Everything” to convince Stephen Hawking and his former wife, Jane, to sign off on a film about their relationship. But once the couple came on board, they quickly became active participants in production. The theoretical physicist eventually lent props from his office to the film, including his thesis and a medal he was given by the Queen. The Hawkings also came by the set during a ball scene to watch Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones bring their story to life.” Los Angeles Times

Scott Feinberg reports: “For his critically-hailed performance as the talking ape leader Caesar in the 2014 summer blockbuster “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” Andy Serkis, the premier practitioner of motion-capture acting will be pushed by 20th Century Fox for an Oscar in the category of best supporting actor, not best actor.” THR

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