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‘August: Osage County’ to open during strong box office period

“August: Osage County tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.”

— From the official

movie website for “August: Osage County”

With barely a week remaining until the nationwide release of locally-filmed movie blockbuster “August: Osage County,” critical forecasts remain mixed — but the current barometer readings for Hollywood are at record highs.

Domestic box office receipts for the waning year show 2013 to be the best 12 months ever, with Hollywood productions raking in nearly $11 billion — almost one percent higher than the 2012 total.

When final totals are in, the collective gross could top last year’s take of $10.8 billion by more than $100 million, according to movie marketing analyst Rentrak.

And, even though Hollywood was able to offset last summer’s expensive flops like “After Earth” and “The Lone Ranger,” attendance remained stagnant due to higher ticket prices, the Associated Press reports.

Summer hits “Fast & Furious 6” and “Iron Man 3” supplied an initial boost for 2013, followed by fall and holiday offerings that brought in big year-end revenue. Christmas box office sales — spurred by Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” and Disney’s “Frozen” — grossed an estimated $78 million, the second-highest Christmas Day performance of all time, according to MarketWatch.

Originally scheduled for its U.S. release on Christmas Day, August: Osage County opened Friday, Dec. 27, at select theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The running time is slightly more than two hours, which makes the film an hour shorter than the original Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play by Tulsa native Tracy Letts .

With a budget estimated at $20 million, the movie stars Meryl Streep as Violet Weston and Julia Roberts as Barbara Weston-Fordham. Other cast members are Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney and Misty Upham.

Director of the film is John Wells, the creative force behind some of primetime television’s biggest hit series (including ER, The West Wing, China Beach and Third Watch). Producers are Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Steve Traxler, Jean Doumanian and George Clooney.

Principal photography took place between Oct. 16 and Dec. 8, 2012, in and around Pawhuska and Bartlesville.

Streep and Roberts have earned Golden Globe nominations for their performances.

Roberts won a best supporting actress award at Hollywood Film Festival, where the August cast was named “Ensemble of the Year.” Streep, Roberts and the cast also awarded top honors by the Screen Actor’s Guild.

The movie premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9. Letts’ play made its Broadway debut in December 2007 after premiering earlier that year at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. It continued with a successful international run.

Based on a December sampling of more than 60 reviews, national film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave ”August: Osage County” a 70 percent approval rating — with an average score of 6.6/10.

The Rotten Tomatoes website’s consensus reads: “The sheer amount of acting going on in ”August: Osage County” threatens to overwhelm, but when the actors involved are as talented as Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, it’s difficult to complain.”

The movie is rated R for strong language and adult themes.

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