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So, what do magic, aliens, and teenage angst have in common?  We’re tempted to say the Marvel Universe. After all, that Peter Parker has got to have some identity issues, but that’s really besides the point.

As we inch closer to awards season, the MoviePass Member Top 5 becomes a bit more interesting. Don’t get us wrong, we’re always curious to see what films perform well among our members; however, in a season filled with the créme-de-la-créme, the list feels more competitive. There are the obvious choices, but sometimes, there are delightful surprises. In a way, it almost feels like Christmas. So, we won’t prolong the wait. Without further ado, here’s our MoviePass Member Top 5.

Eddie Redmayne in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them#1: FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Synopsis: The year is 1926, and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

Move over, Doctor Strange! There is a new fantasy film dominating the domestic box office and its name is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Really, this should come as no surprise. In an error of nostalgia, anything that stirs sentimentality is sure to court attention (think: Ghostbusters remake and Independence Day: Resurgence). However, not all attention is good. After all, to many moviegoers, both, Ghostbusters and the Independence Day sequel, failed to live up to expectations, which ultimately led to financial disappointment. So, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 76% (slightly higher than that of Ghostbusters 2016), how did Fantastic Beasts manage to fair so well? It’s all about the brand! With a worldwide gross of roughly $7.7 billion (including the IMAX re-release), the Harry Potter film franchise is not only financially successful, but critically acclaimed. After all, the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of the series is 78% ( Harry Potter and the Goblet FireHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). 

So, how did Fantastic Beasts perform at the domestic box office? During its debut weekend, it earned $75 million, claiming the #1 spot. Among MoviePass members, the film claims 25.09% of weekend check-ins, almost twice as many as this weekend’s #2 film. If you’re a Harry Potter fan teetering on the fence as to whether or not you should see Fantastic Beasts, we’d recommend this charming review from CineVuewhich states, “A great deal of love, intelligence and effort have gone into crafting a more mature rendering of the Wizarding World.” It’s pretty clear that adults are not too old for magic.

hailee steinfeld in the edge of seventeen#2: THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN

Synopsis: Everyone knows that growing up is hard, and life is no easier for high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who is already at peak awkwardness when her all-star older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) starts dating her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). All at once, Nadine feels more alone than ever, until an unexpected friendship with a thoughtful teen (Hayden Szeto) gives her a glimmer of hope that things just might not be so terrible after all.

We’ll admit that we’re pleasantly surprised by this week’s #2 entry, The Edge of Seventeen. Don’t get us wrong, we love Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson, but in a week filled with blockbusters and films courting Oscar attention, this teenage dramedy is not necessarily an obvious choice. Earning 12.64% of this weekend’s check-ins, the film outperformed the powerhouse Doctor Strange, which currently holds the #2 ranking domestically. At the box office, The Edge of Seventeen debuted at #7, earning roughly $4.8 million on a $9 million budget. Critically, the film’s received high praise, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 95%. Among the many positive reviews is Slate Magazine which states, “Edge of Seventeen likewise transcends its tropes by being just a bit truer, sadder, and bolder than it needs to be.” So, if you need a cathartic release, The Edge of Seventeen may be the perfect fit.

arrival-1#3: ARRIVAL

Synopsis: Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.

Claiming this weekend’s #3 spot is last week’s favorite, Arrival. Among members, the film earned 9.72% of check-ins and pretty rave reviews. In the MoviePass app, Joshua P writes, “One of the best movies I’ve seen. Denis Villeneuve is the best director today and keeps delivering unprecedented masterpiece! 10/10.” Domestically, the film earned $11.8 million during its second weekend in theaters, decreasing its ranking from #3 to #4 (we don’t blame you, Arrival. We know that it’s Fantastic Beasts’ fault). Critically, the film is incredibly strong with a Metascore of 81. Of the 52 reviews considered, 47 are positive, 4 are mixed, and only 1 is negative. Filmdrunk writes, “Not only is Arrival [Villeneuve’s] most thoughtful film, it’s probably his most competently crafted, even for a guy who makes his bones being cinema’s most competent craftsman.” From the actors’ performances to composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s notable soundtrack, the film is inspiring conversation among cinephiles. Its financial performance isn’t bad either. On a $47 million budget, the film has earned approximately $54.2 million worldwide. And since you can definitely bet that it’ll stick around during Oscar season, we’re curious to see this gross climb.

Miles Teller & Aaron Eckhart in Bleed for This#4: BLEED FOR THIS

Synopsis: Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza (Miles Teller), a local Providence boxer, shoots to stardom after winning two world title fights. After a near-fatal car accident leaves him with a broken neck, he is told he may never walk again. Against all odds and doctor’s orders, renowned trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) agrees to help Vinny return to the ring just a year after the accident for what could be the last fight of his life. Based on a true story.

At #4 is the Miles Teller-Aaron Eckhart drama, Bleed for This. During this, its opening weekend, the film debuted at #8, earning approximately $2.4 million on a $6 million budget. Among members, the film accounts for 6.43% of check-ins, rightfully earning its place in the MoviePass Member Top 5. Critically, the film is the subject of mixed reviews, even with one of Hollywood’s rising stars as its headliner. Bleed for This currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 64% and a Metascore of 62. Among the film’s positive reviews is ABC News which states, “‘Bleed for This’ is ultimately a straightforward, well-acted parable about taking punches.” As we mentioned in our article spotlighting director, Ben Younger, Bleed for This not only represents the comeback of its lead character, but it is also a comeback for its director whose two films, Boiler Room and Prime were released more than a decade ago.

Tilda Swinton & Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange#5: DOCTOR STRANGE

Synopsis: Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.

And rounding out this weekend’s MoviePass Member Top 5 is the remarkable Doctor Strange. During its third weekend in theaters, the film fell to #2 at the domestic box office, earning $17.7 million. To date the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has earned $572 million worldwide on a $165 million budget. Among MoviePass members, the film is still going strong, collecting 4.96% of this weekend’s check-ins. However, with films such as the Brad Pitt-Marion Cotillard feature, Allied and the Dev Patel-Nicole Kidman drama, Lion, scheduled for release this weekend, perhaps this will be the doctor’s last week on the charts. Of course, we’ll keep you posted, as we always do on Mondays! 🙂

IN THEATERS THIS WEEK (Click the title for the trailer)

Bring on the drama! We actually don’t mean this metaphorically speaking. To clarify: bring on the dramatic films! In particular, we’re excited to see Allied, Lion, and Rules Don’t Apply. For a little family fun, we’re definitely going to see the long-awaited, Moana. Let’s just hope that Thanksgiving dinner and Black Friday shopping don’t make us too tired.

376697_m1474887455ALLIED

Synopsis: During World War II, intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is stationed in North Africa where he encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Reunited in London, their relationship is threatened by the extreme pressures of the war.

636068644160979829-lion-markrogers-987LION

Synopsis: Five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

rules0001RULES DON’T APPLY

Synopsis: Small town beauty queen and devout Baptist Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), under contract to the infamous Howard Hughes, arrives in Los Angeles. At the airport, she meets her driver, Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), only two weeks on the job and also from a religiously conservative background. Their instant attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test but also defies Hughes’ number one rule: no employee is allowed to have an intimate relationship with a contract actress.

moanaMOANA

Synopsis: An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master way-finder. Together they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds. Along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she always sought: her own identity.

BS2-11273_CROP(l-r) Billy Bob Thornton stars as Willie Soke and Brett Kelly as Thurman Merman in BAD SANTA 2, a Broad Green Pictures and MIRAMAX release.Credit: Jan Thijs | Broad Green Pictures / MiramaxBAD SANTA 2

Synopsis: Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) teams up with his angry little sidekick, Marcus, to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. Along for the ride is chubby and cheery Thurman Merman, a 250-pound ray of sunshine who brings out Willie’s sliver of humanity. Mommy issues arise when the pair are joined by Willie’s horror story of a mother, Sunny Soke, who raises the bar for the gang’s ambitions, while somehow lowering the standards of criminal behavior.

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