Top Film Industry Stories of 2014 #8:
Angelina Jolie's Year Was Bigger Than Her Horns
By Kim Hollis
January 6, 2015
Although the roaring success of Maleficent was surely thrilling for Jolie to experience, she likely was even more excited by some recognition she received in June. Jolie was appointed an Honorary Dame Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (DCMG) for co-founding the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative along with the U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague. Jolie noted that her work as a United Nations envoy to stop sexual violence in war zones was a rewarding experience, saying, ““Working on PSVI and with survivors of rape is an honor in itself,” Jolie, who co-hosted a four-day meeting in London this week aimed at stamping out sexual violence in armed conflicts, said in a statement. “I know that succeeding in our goals will take a lifetime and I am dedicated to it for the rest of mine.”
Most people don’t accomplish as much as Jolie did during the first six months of 2014 in a lifetime, yet her big year was nowhere close to being complete. In August, she took a little personal time out to marry Brad Pitt, her partner of nine years. Her wedding dress had flowers and comics drawn by her children on it. Angelina really was doing 2014 her way.
Jolie would end 2014 with a mighty roar, but not before becoming a piece of another Film Industry Story of 2014, the Sony hack. Although there continues to be debate about whether the hackers were North Korean, former Sony employees, lovers of anarchy, or some combination of all three, a number of potentially embarrassing email messages between Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairperson Amy Pascal and movie producer Scott Rudin resulted in inflammatory headlines and hard feelings.
Where Jolie comes into the picture is in an exchange between Pascal and Rudin about the Steve Jobs biopic, which Sony was backing (it moved to Universal Pictures later) and Rudin was producing. Rudin was irritated with Jolie because she wanted Fincher to direct her Cleopatra movie while the movie producer wanted Fincher for the Jobs film. He tells Pascal, "There is no movie of Cleopatra to be made (and how that is a bad thing and rampaging spoiled ego of this woman and the cost of the movie is beyond me) and if you won't tell her that you do not like the script - which, let me remind you, SHE DOESN'T EITHER - this will just spin even further out in Crazyland but let me tell you I have zero appetite for the indulgence of spoiled brats and I will tell her this myself if you don't.”
Considering Jolie’s status in the industry (and the fact that her husband is now an Academy Award-winning movie producer himself), this is a precarious line to be walking. Rudin goes on to say, “"I'm not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for eighteen months so she could go direct a movie. I have no desire to be making a movie with her, or anybody, that she runs and that we don't.”
We’re going to presume that he won’t have to worry about being burdened with working her again – and probably not Pitt or Fincher, either.
Jolie got the last laugh, anyway. The movie that Rudin mentions her directing is Unbroken, and this little movie about the triumph of the human spirit defied all expectations to become one of the big stories of the 2014 holiday movie season. Despite having no real stars other than the one behind the camera, Unbroken debuted on Christmas Day with a whopping $15.4 million. Its Thursday-through-Sunday total was $46 million. Its cumulative domestic total through yesterday was $89.1 million.
Although the movie hasn’t received overwhelmingly positive critical response, audiences seem to love it. It has received awards attention from the American Film Institute, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, and the National Board of Review. It remains to be seen if the film with capture the attention of the Academy, but if Unbroken receives a Best Picture or Best Director nomination, Jolie’s 2014 story ends on a cliffhanger rather than being tied up with a tidy bow.