Does Angelina Jolie deserve credit for the box office success of ‘Unbroken’?

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As we discussed last Friday, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is performing very well at the box office. Unbroken wasn’t the #1 film at the long holiday weekend box office (#1 was The Hobbit), but it performed better than expected, and came in at a respectable #2 with about $47.6 million over four days. So how did Angelina manage to do it? Variety had a good story analyzing why so many holiday audiences might have been drawn to Unbroken – basically, the film is a religious-audience-friendly vehicle about faith, redemption, hope and the human spirit. Plus, bonus points because the story is true… and a well-known story amongst Evangelical audiences. Some key points from the Variety piece:

“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.

“It’s an inspirational film that played to all the quadrants,” said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s distribution chief. “The studio did an incredible marketing job telling the story of this hero.”

But “The Blind Side” had Sandra Bullock, while “Unbroken” is grounded by newcomer Jack O’Connell. That left Jolie to do the heavy lifting when it came to promoting the picture on “Today” and on the cover of magazines such as Variety. After “Maleficent” became the third biggest film of the year on a global basis, “Unbroken’s” success helps solidify her status as one of the industry’s preeminent movie stars — something that had been questioned given her four-year absence from screens.

“Angeline Jolie, along with Louis Zamperini, is the biggest star of the movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak. “Her name on the film raised awareness higher than it otherwise would have been.”

[From Variety]

I heard that several religious leaders in America endorsed Unbroken as well – likely because of Zamperini’s close affiliation with Billy Graham – and it feels like the film was well-marketed to cross-generational adults. When I went to see it on a Sunday afternoon, I saw a lot of young adults there with their moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas. Box office prognosticators are now revising their previous low-ball predictions and saying that Unbroken could easily break $100 million during its theatrical run. As for what I thought about it…

SPOILERS FOR UNBROKEN….

I liked the film but I didn’t love it. I don’t really blame Angelina for that, and not just because I’m a Brangeloonie. I think there were script issues, which is weird because I would have thought that Joel and Ethan Coen (both of whom have screenwriter credits) could have punched up the last hour significantly.

I’ve seen a lot of critics complain about the torture, and yes, it was hard to watch. It was difficult to read in Laura Hillenbrand’s book as well, but Hillenbrand managed to break up the torture scenes with interesting details about life in a POW camp. Hillenbrand also took pains to emphasize that some Japanese guards actually looked out for the POWs, and that The Bird was loathed/disrespected by many of his coworkers. All of that was missing from the film. You could try to explain it with “Angelina just couldn’t find a way to work that stuff in without bloating the run time,” but honestly… I could have cut 15 to 20 minutes out of the last hour, easily, and it still would have been the same film… with the same torture problem. Why not use those 15 minutes to show different aspects of the camp and even bulk up Garrett Hedlund’s character, who was one of my favorite characters in the book?

I also think the film short-changed some of the funnier, cooler moments from the book. I personally could not believe that Louis’s handshake with Adolf Hitler was left out. I would have loved to spend more time with Louis in Hawaii, build more about his friendships within his crew. I didn’t mind that the film didn’t include Gaga the duck though – Angelina explained to Entertainment Weekly why they couldn’t do the Gaga scenes and I don’t think the film is poorer for it. And this really bugged me, but maybe I’m off my rocker: were those the correct Japanese flags? If you’re a WWII history expert, please tell me. Because I feel pretty confident that the flags being flown at the POW camp – a camp operated by the Japanese military during wartime! – should have been this one, the Rising Sun flag.

Now that I’ve bitched and moaned about everything, let me just say: I actually do think it’s a good movie and I was impressed with Angelina’s direction at several moments, especially in aerial scenes in the bomber and in the pre-devastation of Tokyo. Jack O’Connell gave an incredible performance, as did Domhnall Gleeson and Garrett Hedlund. Miyavi played a good psycho, but I also understand why Miyavi has been left off of many Best Supporting Actor lists, and once again, that’s on the script. And I’m glad someone finally had the balls to make this movie, you know? It’s been sitting around various studios for decades and Angelina finally made it happen.

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Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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96 Responses to “Does Angelina Jolie deserve credit for the box office success of ‘Unbroken’?”

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  1. lisa2 says:

    She said in an interview that her stardom could help or hurt.. HELP because she could do a lot of promotion for the film. She she did. And so have many other directors. She had a untested cast so yes she was needed to get the movie the attention it needed.

    Why shouldn’t she get credit for the film hitting a chord with the public. If the film had tanked all the blame would be thrown at her.. ALL THE BLAME. The headlines all over would be Angelina fails at the Box Office and everyone knows it. So if the Blame is on her shoulders then the success should be as well.

    I am surprised daily by all the reactions to the film on Social media. So regardless of what critics or bloggers say the public has spoken and chosen to embrace the film. .

    so yes Good for her and she will be one of the very few women directors in years with a 100+ DOM movie.. I think it was last done by Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) and that was over 5 years ago.

    • Greata says:

      Well said.

      • TremeHBOfangrl says:

        Very well said. I even hate the title of this thread. Such disrespect. This woman gets kicked in the head so much. She has to earn and work hard for everything she gets, because unseen, yet obvious forces, are always gunning to take her down. I believe this. They are never successful however.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      So true.

      • velourazure says:

        I don’t recall anyone ever asking if Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg or James Cameron should get credit for their successful films. Seems like it’s assumed they would. Why is that question asked of a female director?

    • Sherry says:

      I agree 1^10000 with your comment about credit or blame. I’m not surprised by the negative response by some bloggers. They’d love an excuse to tear Angie down. Plus they would never diegn give her the recognition and respect she deserves for bringing this near to impossible book to film. It was in turnaround for over 5 decades. That’s freaking 50 years!! Respect, man!!
      Also re kaiser’s take on the script, I think it was deliberate. It’s a story about endurance and she kept the focus on Louie and his ability to endure the horror of war. Putting in the ‘lighter’ moments and focusing on secondary characters would take away from that. Not a movie for the faint-hearted. I left feeling that there were so many other horrors of war we didn’t see and so many other stories that didn’t get told because some of these good men did not survive the war and if they did, they never spoke about it. I dated someone whose dad is a WWII veteran and he told me his dad never ever spoke to his sons about the war. It’s not until he was nearing 96 yrs old that he wrote down his experiences. And even then he focused on a lot of bare facts and a funny anecdote or two. So Bravo Louie and bravo Angie.

      • lisa2 says:

        Louis daughter said that there were a lot of things she didn’t know about her father’s experiences. She learned some of them in the book. He didn’t talk about it a lot. Told them stories but never really shared how horrific his time in captivity was.

        so yes I think Angie did him proud.

      • MtnRunner says:

        Based on the reviews I expected to be underwhelmed but came out wondering why it had gotten mixed reviews. I thought that for a true story with so many interesting details, it would have been difficult to keep it from being a 4 hour movie to include it all. I thought the film was well done all around and Angie sure as hell should be proud of her work and take credit for its success, as well as the others that contributed to it.

        I live in a town with a huge military presence and a large faith-based community and it’s been well received, as you can expect. But Louis’ faith doesn’t even get mentioned until the post-script and it’s relevant to his post-war life and modeling forgiveness. It appeals to middle America from young to old and that in and of its mainstream appeal shouldn’t count against it. I know it’s not unique like Boyhood, but deserves to have a nod for Best Film at the Oscars, imo.

      • Dagmarunger says:

        Agree x 1 billion
        Spoilt brat done good

      • @MtnRunner
        I read an interview where Angelina said her first cut of the film came at 3 1/2 hours–and that she was really scared/worried because she thought the movie was perfect as it was. So I’m assuming that a lot of the cameradrie of the soldiers, in the planes, and in the POW camps were cut. I watched one of the featurettes on youtube and she said that the most that they cut from was that little holding island (Oajilla???sp??)….so I am definitely interested in the Director’s cut.

        And yes, like you I expected to be underwhelmed. Very underwhelmed.

        As far as the Christianity aspect, I’d think that a lot of Christians–who are the respectful, moderate kind–are just happy that faith was represented respectfully, instead of taking a Bible story and completely changing everything i.e. “Noah”.

      • MtnRunner says:

        V.C., they didn’t spend much time on that holding island and it prob would have dragged the story down. It is a long movie, but don’t mind slow moving movies (like J Hogg films) that give me time to think about what’s going on — movies that don’t give everything away in the dialogue but rather through facial expressions, actions etc.

        Yes and agree that Christians I know are happily surprised when they are portrayed respectfully in Hollywood. It wasn’t a movie about his faith, but deserved a mention in the postscript because of the dramatic way that faith changed his life.

      • @MtnRunner
        Maybe you didn’t stay for the end, because there definitely was a post script about how Louis fulfilled his promise and gave his life over to God, along with mention of his suffering from PTSD and alcoholism.

      • MtnRunner says:

        “It wasn’t a movie about his faith, but deserved a mention in the postscript because of the dramatic way that faith changed his life.”

        V.C., I think you misunderstood my remark. People keep calling this a faith-based movie, when his belief in God isn’t significant until the post-script at the end. I wouldn’t want someone to be turned off from the movie if they were non-religious, thinking it was all about his faith. I was agreeing with you that the postscript was important to show how he overcame his troubles post-war and forgave those that tortured him due to his conversion to Christianity. Hope that clears it up.

    • Insomniac says:

      Yep, you said what I was going to say. People were gloating like crazy when “Angie’s movie” was snubbed for awards. Damn straight she should get some of the credit now that the film is succeeding at the box office.

    • Veruca Salt says:

      I agree with this comment :-)

    • Kay V says:

      Eloquent & Spot On!

  2. jujoki says:

    There’s NO DOUBT she’s working hard, and will get it. Credit for her!!

  3. Andrea1 says:

    Why not? if the movie had flopped it would have been all on her So why can’t she take credit now that the movie is successful….. And let’s face it lots of people were hoping to see her fail. So I’d say congrats Angie and please do keep the flag flying… We need more women directors!

  4. Maya says:

    As they said in Variety article – the combination of Angelina’s stardom & Louis Zamperini’s amazing life experience is the key to this success.

    Hundreds of tweets from normal people, respected people within Hollywood, war veterans etc have tweeted their admiration, support and respect for Unbroken.

    This movie sat on the shelf for 5 decades and not a single director had the courage or vision to do this movie. Angelina read the book and pitched her butt off to direct this movie. Angelina deserves all the credit, applause and hopefully awards for this movie.

    PS: I am loving the fact how dislikers and few so called Oscar bloggers are losing their shit over the fact that Unbroken is doing so well. Infact these people are losing their credibility simply because they cannot handle the success of another woman – especially if that woman is gorgeous, talented, admired universally like Angelina.

    PPS: proud to be a Brangeloony.

    • lisa2 says:

      The blogging is because some of them see Angie as a threat to Ava.. and yet you never see any of this about men.. There are a least 6 men in the BD Oscar discussion. Do you see any Oscar Bloggers pitting them against each other.. Do you see men on gossip sites trashing any of the males because they are afraid their favorite film won’t fare as well.

      We saw it in the emails from Rudin.. Women who are powerful or standing in the way of what someone wants are to be attacked and belittled. I see women coming to gossip sites to trash Angie saying she didn’t direct the film, saying she is using her whatever.. but you don’t see that with any of the men.

      I hope Selma blows the BO off its top.. I hope the film does great. I’m going to support it because I think it is probably a great film and should be seen. I think Unbroken was a great film and should be seen. Why can’t people like both. Why can’t both films be supported and enjoyed. Why can’t both of these female directors be praised for what they did for their films. Why is it always that you have to pick a side when it comes to women.. and only women.

      • Toot says:

        Agree completely and very well said!

      • Maya says:

        Well said Lisa – the hatred from those bloggers is because they are afraid Ava might be overlooked and Angelina will get the nomination.

        Why can’t hollywood celebrate women power and nominate both women?

        I will support Angelina and Ava because they are trying to survive in a male dominated world. It’s not helping that few women like those bloggers are pitching these two against each other instead of supporting them both. The bloggers are selective feminists and they are losing credibility daily.

  5. Guest says:

    Angelina got the blame when ITLOBH didn’t. Do as great. So many people point out her first movie bombed so yes she does deserve some credit. Not saying she deserves 100% but it definitely helps especially since no one knows about Jack in the US.

  6. Toot says:

    Yes she should get credit because if the GA hated it and it flopped she would get the blame. Angelina chose her cast, that was all her and people have loved the cast. This story has been sitting at the studios for 50 years and no one had the balls to make it. Angelina did, and the general audience has mainly been loving it.

    Congrats to Angelina and the whole cast/crew of Unbroken.

  7. Maria says:

    She gets the credit, as stated by others, had it bombed EVERYONE would have blamed her.

    She promoted the hell out of this movie, I just wish the actors got some shine too—i don’t blame Angie for this, face it, the ONLY person who can match her stardom is her husband.

    Good for her.

    /not feeling her upcoming Africa project tho

  8. Tippy says:

    Unbroken’s PG-13 rating probably had more to do with it’s box office success.

    Many felt as though the film should have been rated R due to the subject matter and graphics torture scenes.

    Obviously a PG-13 rating meant a substantially larger potential audience for Unbroken, especially due to school holiday vacation.

    • Jessica says:

      A PG-13 isn’t just about getting young people in the theatre. An R rating turns a ton of people off. My family definitely wouldn’t have watched it if it was an R, and they’re all middle-aged and above.

      • Anon says:

        Agree, besides it seems like young people see whatever they please anyway. So much so, that it seems like an R rating gets the young people to want to see them.

    • MtnRunner says:

      I didn’t think the torture scenes were as brutal as everyone says it was. I don’t like seeing anyone get beat up, but I’ve seen worse on film.

  9. serena says:

    I still haven’t watched it, but I feel sorry for Miyavi.. he should get some more credit for his work and I’d love if he’d actually win some award.

    • lisa2 says:

      Miyavi was very good. I went to see Unbroken again with my mother.. She hated The Bird.. she is still talking about how much she hated him..

      so yes Miyavi was awesome.. but Jack was in every scene.. He took us through the film and I think all the men in the cast were wonderful.. It was so great see so many young actors.. It just made my heart hurt because I knew how young the men in WW 2 were.

      My mother noted how they didn’t have the benefit during that time of a lot of Combat training.. they were at home one day and on a battlefield or plane the next.

      • Esmom says:

        It is heartbreaking to think how young our soldiers were/are when they go to war, and yes often with so little training. My 15 year old can barely make toast, I cannot imagine him theoretically being ready for combat in just three short years from now.

  10. Angela says:

    I’m not going to see Unbroken (I don’t care for war movies) but I’m glad it’s a success and glad AJ is moving into directing. She definitely deserves the W for Unbroken’s box office success. Hope she picks something a little lighter after that messy looking picture with Brad.

    Can we get a little more coverage of Selma, please???? Another female-directed awards contender, one which I can’t wait to see. And I would love to know more about Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo. Can’t wait to see Americanah with Oyelowo and Lupita!

    • Maya says:

      I would love more coverage of Ava and also the female director for Belle.

      #letssupportwomendirectors

      PS: Angelina is directing Africa next and it seems very likely that she will be acting in Cleopatra with Daniel Day Lewis, Leo D and directed by Martin Scorsese next. Nothing is confirmed but the latest emails reveals they are in the negotiation stage and also are planning to buy Scott Rudin out.

    • Maya says:

      I would love more coverage of Ava and also the female director for Belle.

      #letssupportwomen

      PS: Angelina is directing Africa next and it seems very likely that she will be acting in Cleopatra with Daniel Day Lewis, Leo D and directed by Martin Scorsese next. Nothing is confirmed but the latest emails reveals they are in the negotiation stage and also are planning to buy Scott Rudin out.

      Nothing lighthearted in the near future I am afraid…

    • Kim1 says:

      Oprah’s OWN network will have several shows on Selma starting in January. The film will get tons of coverage before it opens wide.
      Unbroken is based on a best selling book but it also starred not well known actors.Angie’s involvement brought some attention to the project.I had never heard of the book before she became involved so she brought in additional viewers.We will never how many people were like me and became interested because of her.
      I wished he had lived to to see his movie be #1 on Christmas Day

  11. G&T says:

    I think the credit is mostly hers. It’s a very well-known book, but she’s been the focus of the whole the promotion.

    I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m curious as to how this success will affect its Oscar chances. It’s still on a few potential Best Picture lists, but I’m not sure how it will even be nominated with such poor reviews. I was thinking about how Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close had similar reviews, and ended up with a few nominations.

    I know it’s a popularity contest, and these awards don’t mean what they used to, but my question is, would it be fair? Would there be backlash? Even The Blind Side (which I hated) was far better received.

    • Guest says:

      If you look at metacritic Blind Side has a very low 53 which is even worse than maleficent. Rotten tomatoes is tricky because there were several 2.5/4 and 3/5 being labeled as rotten. Also if you look at avg rating it has 6.4/10 for top critics. So even though it does look like it has worse reviews they are probably equally the same. Blind side got best picture because it was a big hit. No idea how extremely loud incredibly close got I’m since it has a low 46 on metacritic nor did it make money. Oscars are so weird. Can you believe the reader not only got a best pic nod in a field of five but also best director and it’s metacritic score was 58.

    • Maya says:

      I wouldn’t trust those reviews on rotten tomatoes because they have been fiddled with.

      I checked it yesterday and for atleast 10 of the reviews which have been given rotten – their rating is 2.5/4. That’s a fresh score on all the other movies but for Unbroken they gave it rotten.

      People are working behind the scenes to make it look like critics hate the movie while Infact the score is near the 60% rating.

  12. lower-case deb says:

    i will be the one acting like broken record, contribute nothing of essence in this thread.
    - Miyavi’s shoes, i want them
    - i just watched Variety Artisan coverage of Roger Deakins. i hope he wins the gold statue this year. i know the perennial argument of “you need to be nominated based on merit”, but at this point, he could be directing a 10-second segment of Sesame Street with a 1-pixel potato in portrait for Youtube and still have enough roll-over merit to earn him a statue.

    • mpb says:

      Miyavi’s whole look here is outstanding, from his hair to the cut of that jacket to those shoes. WORK IT.

      I haven’t seen the movie but kudos to Angelina.

  13. Kimmy says:

    Although I did like the movie,I also really missed the comraderie between Louis and his crew. I thought that showed so much about his personality. And addin the Hitler scene!? Come on…Louis was such a cocky little shit at that point…it would have been amazing.

  14. martin says:

    You know whats funny .if unbroken was a box office flop.people will immediately blame Angie.and now when it gained those numbers
    They are questioning if Angelina Jolie deserve credit for it success .ha

    • tarheel says:

      I know. He is being criticized BECAUSE IT’S DOING WELL!

      Female directors get no respect. Even when they get an Academy Award for Best Picture they say she didn’t earn it.

  15. noway says:

    WWII buff here, and my father was an older father and a WWII veteran so I think I am right on this, but can’t ask him for sure, but Angelina Jolie I think got it right. The Rising Sun flag was used by the Japanese Navy during WWII, but the other flag was used elsewhere. If it was a POW camp they would not have used the Rising Sun Flag.

    On another note yes Angelina Jolie deserves some credit for its box office success. If for no other reason, she would have received the flack if it failed so the reverse is true too.

  16. db says:

    Good for AJ, I hope the film continues to do well. Actors taking up directing can be dicey – I Monuments Men was terrible — but AJ is talented

    • Emma - the JP Lover says:

      @DB, who wrote: “Good for AJ, I hope the film continues to do well. Actors taking up directing can be dicey – I Monuments Men was terrible — but AJ is talented”

      Yes, but “Good Night, and Good Luck” (2005) and “The Ides of March” (2011) were excellent films, both of which George Clooney co-wrote and directed. “Good Night, and Good Luck” (about Edward R. Murrow) was nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (David Strathairn), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Design.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0433383/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_4

      “The Ides of March” was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (I love the poster for that film).

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1124035/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_2

  17. Jayna says:

    No, she doesn’t get all the credit for why people went to the movie that weekend. The majority would be going for the book, the story of him, strong promo getting the story out there (by Jolie too), a great trailer that played all the time in prime time spots, a strong Christian base showing up, veterans showing up.

    But the Cohen Brothers wrote a good script off of the book and Angie did a strong job directing the movie and thus gets the credit for why the audience either really loved it and/or thought it was a good movie and enjoyed it, plus a strong performance by Jack and to other supporting actors.

    There was a high audience thumbs up factor after the movie, which the credit goes to Angie and the Cohen Brothers, and Jack to a smaller degree. So, congratulations, Angie. And because she did a strong job of directing and making a good movie with a good script by the Cohen Brothers, she should receive a lot of credit for how this movie carries momentum at the box office for the coming weeks, because, like any good movie, word of mouth will carry it. So a lot of the credit should go to Angie’s directing for that also. She made a good movie that audiences are responding to and that will give this movie legs at the box office, and she will get credit for that and should.

    • Esmom says:

      True. I know numerous people who read the book who had no idea AJ was directing — or even really know/care who she is in the case of my middle school son and his friends — and would go see the movie no matter what.

      And yes if they love it then of course she should get credit. People have extra high expectations when a beloved book is being translated to the big screen.

    • Lucy2 says:

      I too think the book is the main reason- it was on the bestseller list for over 2 years, and got another boost of sales after Louis died this past year. Much like Gone Girl, the film comes with a large built in audience due to the popularity of the book.
      Jolie definitely brought more attention to it (most 2nd time directors dont get an Entertainment Weekly cover) and brought her own fan base as well, and all the publicity she did surely added to the box office, but I think LH’s book is what brought many people to it.

  18. Josefa says:

    Of course she should, she’s been working hard to promote it. Congrats to her.

    Anyway, I went to watch it and it felt very… basic. It was an okay movie when a story like this deserved a far better one. I guess I agree with all the critics – it is not a bad movie, or a bad start for Angie as a director, but it does feel pretty dissapointing.

    Is Angie still on the race for the directing oscar? If so, she shouldn’t. It’s not a bad start as directing is very hard, but her work wasn’t exactly “good” either.

  19. Esmom says:

    Ha, I know it’s sacrilege to speak ill of Louis’s story but the shark punching did take me out of the believability zone when I was reading!

    • doofus says:

      but it works!

      (according to mythbusters, maybe?) it’s an excellent way to drive them away because of all of the super sensitive nerve endings in their “nose” area.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, doofus, I remember reading or hearing that too. I guess it was just one detail too many that made his ordeal seem momentarily unfathomable. Maybe it was just Hillenbrand’s writing, which I don’t really care for. But it seems true that humans are capable of extraordinary strength in extraordinary circumstances.

    • @Esmom
      I was watching a press conference for Unbroken on youtube yesterday–and they were talking about when Louis had to lift that wooden beam. He was emaciated, very little strength,etc–but he held the beam over his head for 37 minutes, and only dropped it because The Bird kicked him in the stomach. They talked about Jack O’C picking it up and trying to hold it–they didn’t specify how long it was, but from what I got out of it, it was only a few minutes.

      So, agree–people sometimes have amazing inner strength to endure and survive. That’s why I liked the movie–I didn’t come away thinking that they were so amazing and heroes because they killed all of the guards and got back to America–it was simply because they endured and survived.

  20. tarheel says:

    Forgot to add: yes, the flags were correct. The wikipedia entry you linked to even verifies this.

    Just as the popular image of the Confederate flag was not the one generally, so it was with the “Rising Sun” standard. It had very specific uses, and was not THE Japanese flag.

  21. Miss M says:

    His story was probably sitting around for decades, but his story based on the book wasn’t because the book was published 4 years ago.

    Ps: yes, she should take credit. She did a good job kn her second directorial work and it was a hu

    • Miss M says:

      I couldn’t edit. She should take credit for directing well jn her second directorial job and for promoting like crazy. People who read the book were going to see it Angelina being the director or not.

  22. Louise177 says:

    I can’t believe this is even a story. I don’t know why when it comes to Angelina people are so quick to say a movie will bomb but when it becomes a success everybody blames everything except Angelina for the success. Angelina helped the movie but there are also other reasons for people to see the movie. But if the movie failed, she would get all of the blame. People are already saying critics hate the movie but I haven’t seen any bad reviews. They range from ok to good.

  23. Jessica says:

    I don’t think she get’s the credit for the box office, not in this case.

    My mother’s family are evangelicals, their various churches organized multiple outings to see it over the weekend. Apparently my aunt’s church had a big group going to every single showing at their local theatre. None of my family had a clue Angelina directed, and many of the church-goers truly wouldn’t even know who she is as they don’t consume much, if any, non-Evangelical media. The marketing in their neck of the woods has really just pushed religion angle hard.

    Likewise my husband is vicariously involved in the armed forces, and the movies being promoted like crazy in those circles. He gotten something like 12 emails from various departments telling him to go see it, and again, he read all those and still had no idea Angelina directed.

    I’m not slamming Angelina. I think movie buffs and gossip commentators greatly over-estimate the impact directors have on audiences. Most people don’t know and don’t care who directed the films they see, even when you’re talking about a Spielberg or Scorcese. If people like the film that reflects well on her, but nothing is suggesting the bulk of the audience was influenced by her involvement.

    • The Original G says:

      This project was sitting around and NO director picked it up and ran with it until Angelina.

      Making a movie that appeals to multiple audiences is an ACTUAL strategic decision that Angelina and the producers made and good for them. My only point is that this move simply did not just appear in your local theatre. It got there on purpose, because of tens of millions of dollars of investment, production and marketing savvy.

  24. MAC says:

    If anyone could find it possible to remove Angie from all of tis for a sec. Than why wouldn’t a movie like this do well. It covers a lot of things that cross race, religion, etc

    Human struggles on big issues. That are common to many people.

    • lisa2 says:

      Then why did it take 50 years to do it.

      She said during the DRT that all Directors see a call sheet of films that are in need of a Director. All of the men at that table were aware of the script. ALL Directors.. but none of them wanted to touch it. The Coens even said that the story was going to be a hard one to film. And that they themselves wouldn’t want to tackle it.

      She did..

    • I think you can say that about almost all movies. How many Disney movies have flopped, and how many Disney movies have made money because they were Disney movies. It’s a special mix of people, all of whom whose ideas contribute to the movie. I don’t think you can really predict which films will do well, which ones won’t–$$$-wise.

      I really think that people really responded well to the fact that Angelina was friends with Louis–and that showed in their interactions. Because, if anyone else had done this film, it would be a given that they’d focus on the Olympics (like with the first trailer that was done for the Olympics), would focus on Louis as a war hero. It’s a no brainer. But she was actually friends with him. That gives the entire story an extra oomph! I think.

  25. Michael says:

    I saw Unbroken on Christmas Day and was truly disappointed. I went to see it not because Jolie’s name was attached to it, I could care less who directed it, but because I read the book and the story is powerful. I felt that there was so much left out of the movie, that could have been injected, had there been one or two less torture scenes.

    .
    The Christmas BO success is clearly due to people like myself, a Christian, going to see a movie that they thought was going to be as fascinating as the book. Sadly, it wasn’t! Does Angelina Jolie deserve credit for directing Unbroken? Sure. But she doesn’t deserve the credit for it’s BO success over Christmas. Word is spreading that most, if not all, the faith based scenes were left out. Unbroken could have been an Oscar winner!

    • Emma - the JP Lover says:

      @Michael, who wrote: “The Christmas BO success is clearly due to people like myself, a Christian, going to see a movie that they thought was going to be as fascinating as the book. Sadly, it wasn’t! Does Angelina Jolie deserve credit for directing Unbroken? Sure. But she doesn’t deserve the credit for it’s BO success over Christmas. Word is spreading that most, if not all, the faith based scenes were left out. Unbroken could have been an Oscar winner!”

      Wow … just, wow. “Unbroken” made just shy of $50 million in 4 days. I can guarantee you Christians weren’t the only group to see the film. Theirs won’t be the only word of mouth about the film, either. And how in the world do you know those scenes weren’t included in the film before Universal did its ‘final’ edit?

      • lower-case deb says:

        just a slight note on the Universal edit rumor, it’s not true. Matt Baer and Angelina both denied this:
        https://www.yahoo.com/movies/s/making-unbroken-angelina-jolie-fought-uphill-battle-bringing-180004671.html

        “Anybody who thinks anybody could take anything away from Angelina is out of their mind.” Jolie also denies losing control of the edits. “We didn’t always agree creatively with [Universal],” she says, “but that was part of the fun.”

        in a sit down interview (can’t remember which it’s on youtube), Angelina confirmed that the post-war PTSD and conversion chapter of Louie’s life is not made because “that’s another whole movie altogether.” she didn’t feel respectful to make it just 10-30 mins in the movie.

        this is also confirmed by Luke Zamperini (i think his article was linked here in CB a few weeks ago?), citing that the PTSD and conversion is a continuation of the process, and they feel that the faith issue has been adequately represented through Louie’s life showing that his road to Faith and Forgiveness is a long road from when he was in the church listening and not understanding, to his bargaining with God on the raft and at Kwajlein… etc.

  26. MrsBPitt says:

    I haven’t scene Unbroken yet (planning to go with hubby this week), but a friend of mine saw it and said it wasn’t her cup of tea. She said it was one long drawn out torture movie…I realize there are horrible torture scenes, I’m hoping there will be uplifting scenes showing the amazing, man that Louis was and his strength and faith! All I ‘ve heard about is the torture. Can anyone give me a review about the rest of the movie…I don’t trust movie critics…

    • lisa2 says:

      It is not a Rah rah rah movie. It is a real view of what abuse this man endured. People talk about his faith and his ability to be Unbroken; but until you see the extent of what he endured you don’t understand how that term UNBROKEN applies.

      I’m tired of the press saying this is “torture pr0n”.. if she had not shown that then they would have found something else. Like someone said in a review that there was not enough profanity. Well men didn’t talk the way they do today. So this isn’t a perfect film. But I have not seen any film that is perfect. That is why people have opinions of liking or not liking a film.

      see it for yourself and decide. If you like it fine if you don’t fine but it will your judgement; not others.

  27. I have to say I agree about the script issues. I expect more from the Cohens than what we got but my biggest beef was actually with the open ocean scenes which to me could have been cut down but were SO FRICKING UNREALISTIC there is no way after multiple days at sea in the South Pacific they would not have been burnt to a crisp/blistered/bloody and to have a rather manicured goatee/moustache? That bugged me hard core. When those guys were found by the Japanese they should have looked worse and it was really annoying how it was like they didn’t want to ugly up the pretty mens. I think showing as well how his fellow guards felt about The Bird would have gone a long way as well to flesh out the camp section of the movie which to me felt rushed and half assed. Maybe I just love the Great Escape too much.

  28. lower-case deb says:

    from what i read, the film seems to be 4 films in one: an air, land, track, and sea.
    some critics dislike the sea part, some critics dislike the POW part, some critics dislike the track part. but i have yet to read one single critic who dislikes the air part. in fact most critics have high praise for the aerial part.

    maybe it’s because she’s a hobby pilot who’s quite at home inside the cockpit to have a sense of what kind of things might look better from the inside etc.

    bearing that in mind, and her propensity for war/period pieces, maybe she can consider getting someone to write a spec script on Bessie Coleman or Jacqueline Cochran, both amazing women aviators whose feats and life she can direct on screen.

    i think that’ll be a nice directing idea for her?

  29. Janet says:

    If the movie had bombed she would have received all the blame for the failure. Since the movie is a hit she should get credit for its success. Fair is fair.

  30. Sillymilly says:

    No. It was a great book, a great story. Zamperini gets the credit not Jolie. She just jumped on it.
    Anyone could have directed it and it would have done well.

    • lisa2 says:

      well anyone didn’t.. she did

      no one has a problem giving other directors props for a movie’s success..

    • Maya says:

      The movie sat on the shelf for 5 decades – 50 freaking years. No one touched because they didn’t have the balls to take on such an incredible true story and make it into a movie.

      Angelina had the courage and fortitude and she had it done – so yeah she deserves some if not most of the credit.

    • Krystal says:

      The point was no one wanted to direct it. It didn’t get made, until Angelina had enough balls to bring this man’s life story to the big screen. No one is discrediting Louie, Laura’s book, or anyone else that worked so hard to get this man’s story told. They all deserve credit, most of all Louie because he was such an extraordinary man. However, I doubt it would have made nearly $50 million in the U.S. if it hadn’t opened it over 3,000 theaters. Who do you think made that possible? Universal and Angelina. She promoted the hell out of this movie. I went to see it because I read the book and because I’m an Angie fan. The movie will shine more light on his story. It will help people know about him, that weren’t aware of the book.

    • Leah says:

      So that goes for all movies? Anyone could direct any movie, and there is no need for any professional directors since anyone could direct? wow. Her haters are really getting desperate now.

    • Janet says:

      Your moniker does you credit.

    • The Original G says:

      Anyone could have observed and defined gravity. Anyone could have invented the Foreman Grill or nail polish or gene therapy. But SOMEONE did actually do those things and they deserve the credit.

  31. scout says:

    When I read the book, I was very glad he found a religion or a purpose later in his life to completely change his life around. His wife went through HELL because of his PTSD, drinking, violence etc. (He was sitting on his pregnant wife’s chest while having a nightmare about “the bird”, choking her and later one day his wife found him shaking his baby girl he loved so much!) It’s pretty scary stuff to read and imagine his wife was going through until one day, he listens to Billy Graham and change was immediate. I am not religious at all but if I were Louis Zamparini, ANY guidance wherever it comes from, in ANY form would be wonderful to save me from that kind of mental torture, got to read the book to understand but harsh reality for him and his family must have been enormous. So I don’t blame if this particular group supports the movie, good for them.
    Movie is choppy at first and picks up quickly, I agree. It doesn’t mention his choice to be a evangelist, which came later in his life. Movie ends when he reunites with his family. Book goes on into more details after his POW days.

  32. Tig says:

    The book had a huge following- and is a great read for those of you who haven’t read it yet.

    Since I had read it, I had no intention of seeing it until after New Year’s. I am glad AJ is getting well deserved credit for getting the story from page to screen. Interested tho- have any posters seen both this and The Railway Man( film last year with Colin Firth)? If yes, which did you prefer and why?

  33. silly you says:

    Why wouldn’t she deserve some credit for the film’s success? She directed it, so she deserves the director’s share of the credit. There you go.

  34. lunchcoma says:

    For me, this is one to watch on television, if that. Just not my thing. That being said, as much as I like my comic book and fantasy movies, I think it’s a good sign to see a traditional studio film that’s targeted at adults do well at Christmas. Recently, there’s been a bit too much of a divide between the hobbits and superheroes and the tiny that get nominated for awards. Having something in between might encourage studios to make similar films that might be more to my taste.

  35. dpatz says:

    Welll – this is a faith based + pro-war veteran pic leveraging an already popular subject. I liken it to action films based on the marvel and transformer franchises or disney movies which make money regardless of who is directing it or quality of film (although marvel is good on the quality front) . We’ve seen faith based movies with a small fraction of the production and marketing budget for unbroken (marketing for unbroken was shrewd and everywhere), no popular source material, action sequences, and limited name recognition of the directors/ actors do remarkably well at the box office. You can also look at the box office success of pro veterans or pro army movies and it’s pretty amazing as well. For these films, no one gives 100% credit to the director. In short, the box office was unbroken’s to lose. The story has a built in base of consumers already and has all the right elements – action, no uncomfortable war narratives, pro-veteran and faith-based (or the promise of it).

    I think AJ deserves credit for promoting the sh*t out of it to build awareness but don’t think she can take ALL the credit for the film’s BO success (otherwise I think the Blood and Honey film and some of her other producing ventures would have been far more successful if it was on her name alone). All in all good for Zamperini’s story. However, what I think AJ should be really looking to get credit on is her direction and choices on screen which is where the mixed reviews are coming in. So a win for the commercial success of the film, but is it an (oscar-worthy) effort for AJ – don’t think so. But hey! it’s progress for women as directors in decidedly masculine narratives/ content.

    • norah says:

      Yes she does deserve credit for the success of unbroken no question

      1) She picked and chose to do a tough project that nobody wanted to do

      2) she chose a war movie unusual choice but a very brave one based on a long time best seller

      3) she directed and promoted the movie and chose the actors who are all unknown –

      4) if it had done badly who would have received the blame – it would have been her so its only fair to give her credit not only for her part which is huge but also by bringing in top talent on board to show off her vision for the movie – deakins ethan joel cohen etc – so kudos to aj for showing not only that women directors can direct a different genre but also that a 39 year mega star who is an a list actress can use her stardom for good and show what louis z was all about – good job to all the cast esp jack o connell who did so well amazing that he is only 23 or 24

  36. dpatz says:

    Also i think Into the Woods came in as second over the weekend? At least per box office mojo.

    And no one is talking about Into the Woods which is strange – it’s theatre count is under 2500 and it did remarkably well over the weekend. Long live Meryl!

    • Jessica says:

      Unbroken was estimated to come in second, but Into The Woods actually came in second and is building momentum.

  37. EM says:

    Given that I think that she is a tad overrated, why shouldn’t she be given credit? It’s a question that shouldn’t even be asked. We don’t question Oliver Stone’s crapload of films – like Alexander, and some other duds. Nor do we question the junk that Apatow releases to the masses.
    But whenever a female director – not just Jolie – makes a film, she is scrutinised more than a male director. Examples: Streisand, Bigelow.

    • tarheel says:

      I said the same basic thing upthread — exactly. Female directors, the oh so very few of them, always get snarked at, even when they win Best Picture Oscars.

  38. kim says:

    Of course she deserves a credit. Especially for rather underachieved movie like this. She honored LZ for some amount of time giving this movie actual authenticity. Otherwise it would have not been seen as the same. People are gonna see this movie just because they like AJ and great choices she makes. Yeah it’s annoying she trys to be a superhuman all the time, but poor woman is in the position where everybody’s snooping around her bathroom all the time. I hope to see her getting better at techniques, be a better

  39. bisolar says:

    First!I love her.
    And yes she does deserve the credit.Totally.
    How is it even questioned?

  40. Angie says:

    I think she ABSOLUTELY deserves a huge amount of credit for the success because we know damn well she would’ve gotten the blame if it had failed.

    Having said that, the PG-13 helped ALOT. I live in the rural South and I know a ton of people that avoid R rated films. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if many conservative leaning people were drawn to the film given both it’s inspirational theme and it’s rating.

  41. Bobby the K says:

    If the film was a flop, she would certainly get all the blame.

  42. Patty frost says:

    It’s kind of unfortunate that her role in the films success is being questioned. If it was Brad Pitts directorial debut then he would be lauded for his box office and critical success instead of having his contribution over analyzed. She might not be a brilliant director but the fact that she hasn’t been ripped to shreds means she’s pretty good. She maybe holier than thou or atleast appear to be but you can’t deny she is an extraordinary lady who is extremely talented. Sorry team Aniston.