In a 12.25 post called “Take…No, Respect The Pain” I asked for reactions to Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken, but more importantly I asked how “the room” felt. “How did it seem to play with Joe and Jane?,” I wrote. “Seriously…I’m asking. Maybe on some level it’s connecting. What do I know?” Well, Unbroken is connecting. $15,592,000 earned on Christmas Day, and close to $50 million expected by Sunday night.
Except half the critics said “nope” and the film itself isn’t, to be bend-over-backwards fair, traditionally comforting or nourishing. It’s a well-made, handsomely captured slog about a guy enduring all manner of pain, trial, deprivation and torture. So something is happening here, Mr. Jones, but what? I think it’s the fans of Laura Hillebrand’s 2010 book plus fans who are looking to kiss the proverbial Jolie glamour ring plus the same people who ten years ago wrapped themselves in the blessed spiritual agonies of The Passion of the Christ.
And yet when I asked if anyone felt tremors in the ground only two readers, “Sams” and “Actionman,” answered in the affirmative. Everyone else navel-gazed. The HE community failed. I’d like explanations, please.
Sams: “Saw it at MoMa. Audience picked up on the occasional humor. Seemed to really like it — Enthusiastic applause at the end.”
Actionman: “Just got back from a completely sold out 12:30pm show in CT, the bargain matinee at $5.50. Haven’t seen that many people in a theater in quite some time. Nobody spoke a word and there seemed to be very few people taking bathroom or phone breaks, considering the size of the crowd. Scattered applause at the end but I got the sense that people felt a bit beaten-down at the immediate conclusion. [And yet] the chatter when the lights came up seemed overwhelmingly positive.”
Boxoffice.com assessment: “Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Unbroken delivered the third-largest Christmas Day debut of all time, behind only 2009’s Sherlock Holmes and 2012’s Les Miserables. Unbroken opened an impressive 4 percent ahead of the $15.01 million opening day take of 2012’s Django Unchained. The film received an A- rating on CinemaScore, which suggests the film is going over significantly better with moviegoers than it has with critics.”