Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 
'The Witch' Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 'The Witch' Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Sundance Reviews: 'The Bronze' Is "Potty-Mouthed," "Vinegar-Spirited," Racy Gymnast Comedy Sundance Reviews: 'The Bronze' Is "Potty-Mouthed," "Vinegar-Spirited," Racy Gymnast Comedy 'American Sniper' Writer Jason Hall Addresses Concerns About Clint Eastwood's Controversial War Pic 'American Sniper' Writer Jason Hall Addresses Concerns About Clint Eastwood's Controversial War Pic Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Oscar Predictions 2015 Oscar Predictions 2015

Fox Sneaks We Bought A Zoo; Early Reviews

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 27, 2011 at 2:53PM

With theatrical box office more important than ever, the studios have gone back to a tried-and-true method of building word-of-mouth for movies they believe in--sneak previews. Disney has sneaked "War Horse" twice now, and Paramount threw "Young Adult" into key markets as well. Saturday, Twentieth Century Fox booked Cameron Crowe's bid to escape movie jail, "We Bought a Zoo," on 800 screens nationwide in advance of its December 23 release. I checked out the movie at L.A.'s Arclight.
5
We Bought a Zoo
We Bought a Zoo

With theatrical box office more important than ever, the studios have gone back to a tried-and-true method of building word-of-mouth for movies they believe in--sneak previews. Disney has sneaked "War Horse" twice now, and Paramount threw "Young Adult" into key markets as well. Saturday, Twentieth Century Fox booked Cameron Crowe's bid to escape movie jail, "We Bought a Zoo," on 800 screens nationwide in advance of its December 23 release. I checked out the movie at L.A.'s Arclight.

Writer-director Crowe and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada"), adapting Benjamin Mee's autobiograpaphical tale, have fashioned a smart family story comparable in appeal to a film like "Marley and Me," that should play well across generations. Matt Damon carries the movie as a recently widowed journalist/adventurer who in the past six months has lost his wife and job and has to move his two kids when his depressed older son (Colin Ford) gets kicked out of school. Mee uses his inheritance to buy a country house with a surprise attachment: a zoo complete with lions, tigers and bears, run by a motley crew led by fetchingly competent Scarlett Johansson (wearing refreshingly little makeup).

Crowe expertly balances charming animal escapades (yes, Damon gets chased by a porcupine and multiple snakes escape) and various financial and romantic stakes by keeping the dialogue sharp and the treakle to a minimum. (I laughed but did not cry.) Still, the film functions as mainstream family fare and should score with moviegoers over the holidays.

Fox reports that it sold out sneaks on the coasts as well as in the middle of the country "from New York to LA, Minneapolis to Memphis, Salt Lake City to Boston, Detroit to Orlando, Philly to Kansas City."

Here's THR: "Bottom Line: Cameron Crowe’s film has some rough edges, but it ultimately delivers thanks to Matt Damon’s moving performance.
"

And HitFix: "It's just a film that wears its emotions right out front, and somehow, Crowe is able to brush aside any thoughts of what people will or won't think and just focus on building those moments that he does so well, those heartbreaking little moments of magic that have been the main currency of his career.  Cameron Crowe remains, as always, uncool.  And wonderful for it.  'We Bought A Zoo' is lovely, delicate, and absolutely worth seeing with your family this holiday season."
 

This article is related to: Reviews, Box Office, Matt Damon


E-Mail Updates