Out of the Furnace
|Out of the Furnace|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Scott Cooper|
|Music by||Dickon Hinchliffe|
|Edited by||David Rosenbloom|
|Distributed by||Relativity Media|
|Box office||$15.7 million|
Out of the Furnace is a 2013 American drama film, directed by Scott Cooper, from a screenplay written by Cooper and Brad Ingelsby. Produced by Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio, the film stars Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Shepard.
The film is about a Pennsylvania steel mill worker Russell Baze (Bale) and his Iraq war veteran brother Rodney (Affleck), who cannot adjust to civilian life. While Rodney makes some money doing bareknuckle fights for bar owner and small-time criminal John Petty (Dafoe), who runs illegal gambling operations, Rodney becomes so indebted due to his own gambling losses that he begs Petty to let him do a big money fight. After Petty reluctantly arranges for Rodney to do a fight for a ruthless criminal gang in the backwoods, Rodney disappears, and his brother tries to find out what has happened to him. The film received a limited release in Los Angeles and New York City on December 4, 2013, followed by a wide theatrical release on December 6. The film earned $15.7 million against its $22 million budget and it received mixed reviews.
After getting off work at a North Braddock, Pennsylvania, steel mill, Russell Baze catches his brother Rodney at a horse racing simulcast, where Rodney had just bet on a losing horse. Rodney reveals John Petty loaned the money to him. Petty owns a bar and runs several illegal games. Russell visits Petty, pays off some of Rodney's debt, and promises to pay Petty the rest with his next paycheck if Rodney has not yet paid it off. Driving home intoxicated, Russell hits another car, killing its occupants, including a little boy. He is incarcerated for vehicular manslaughter. While in prison he is informed that his ailing father has died and his girlfriend Lena has left him for the small town police chief, Wesley Barnes. Upon his release from prison, Russell returns home and resumes his job at the mill.
The same day, Rodney participates in an illegal bare-knuckle prizefight. Rodney was supposed to take a "dive" for Petty as a way to repay some of the gambling debt he owes Petty, but during the fight, Rodney becomes enraged against his opponent and wins the fight. The next morning, Russell finds Rodney's bloodied knuckle tapes in the trash and confronts him about it. Russell wants him to work in the mill, but Rodney, a four-tour Iraq war veteran, is too mentally scarred to take a regular job.
Rodney tells Petty that these "nickel and dime" fights will never earn him enough money to pay Petty back. Rodney then insists that Petty call and organize a more lucrative fight. Petty reluctantly arranges a fight with Harlan DeGroat, a sociopathic drug dealer from rural New Jersey to whom Petty owes a lot of money. Russell wants Lena back, but she is pregnant with Wesley's baby. Russell unsuccessfully feigns happiness to Lena, saying she will be a great mom, but both know that her pregnancy makes their getting back together an impossibility.
Rodney is told he must purposely lose the fight in New Jersey. When DeGroat seeks assurances Rodney will lose, Petty promises he will. Rodney briefly knocks out his opponent, but when hearing Petty pleading with him, Rodney helps the fighter get up, takes a dive, and lets the man pummel his face into a bloody mess. After the fight, DeGroat asks for the rest of his money, but Petty reminds DeGroat they had agreed in advance that this fight made them even, and DeGroat drops the subject. While driving back home, DeGroat and his men ambush Petty and Rodney. DeGroat first shoots and kills Petty, has Rodney dragged into the woods, and kills him, too. Unknown to anyone, Petty had accidentally dialed his cell phone, which fell onto the car seat and connected to his bartender Dan's voicemail while recording DeGroat as clear evidence of his murdering Petty.
That night, Russell finds a letter from Rodney, stating this will be his last fight and he wants to work with Russell at the mill. Wesley informs Russell about Rodney's disappearance, and Russell and his uncle, Red, set off to find him. In DeGroat's town, Russell and Red are stopped by the sheriff, who informs them that DeGroat's men would kill them if they knew why the two were in town, and, as a favor to Sheriff Wesley, he will escort them to the state line rather than searching and arresting them for illegally carrying concealed weapons.
Upon returning to the mill, Wesley visits Russell and confirms Rodney's death. Russell goes to Petty's office, finds a phone number for DeGroat, and calls him without identifying himself, enticing him to come collect Petty's debt. At the bar, Russell sabotages DeGroat's van to prevent his escape and confronts him. DeGroat escapes to a nearby, shutdown mill, where Russell shoots him in the thigh. Russell then follows DeGroat to a field outside the mill as he hobbles off and shoots him in the back. Russell informs DeGroat that he is Rodney's brother, as Wesley approaches the field in a squad car. Wesley pleads for Russell to put down his gun, but Russell proceeds to carefully aim his hunting rifle and shoots DeGroat in the head. The film cuts to Russell sitting at home at the dining table- Wesley having arranged matters so that Russell avoided prison- and fades to black.
- Christian Bale as Russell Baze
- Woody Harrelson as Harlan DeGroat
- Casey Affleck as Rodney Baze, Jr.
- Forest Whitaker as Wesley Barnes
- Willem Dafoe as John Petty
- Tom Bower as Dan Dugan
- Zoë Saldana as Lena Taylor
- Sam Shepard as Gerald "Red" Baze
The film was produced by Relativity Media, Appian Way Productions, Red Granite Pictures, and Scott Free Productions, with Jeff Waxman, Tucker Tooley, Brooklyn Weaver, Riza Aziz, Joey McFarland, Joe Gatta, Danny Dimbort, and Christian Mercuri serving as executive producers. Director Scott Cooper read an article about Braddock, Pennsylvania, a declining steel industry town outside of Pittsburgh, and the efforts to revitalize it, led by mayor John Fetterman. After visiting, Cooper was inspired to use the borough as the backdrop for a film. Cooper developed the story from The Low Dweller, a spec script written by Brad Ingelsby that had actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Ridley Scott attached. The studio offered the script to Cooper, which he rewrote, drawing on his experience of growing up in Appalachia and losing a sibling at a young age. DiCaprio and Scott stayed on as producers of the film. The story has no relation to Out of This Furnace, a 1941 historical novel by Thomas Bell, set in Braddock. The Hollywood Reporter reported the film's budget was $22 million.
Principal photography began in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area on April 13, 2012, and wrapped on June 1, 2012. The majority of filming took place in Braddock, and additional filming was in nearby North Braddock, Imperial, Rankin, and Swissvale. Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi shot the feature in anamorphic format on Kodak 35 mm film. Prison scenes were filmed in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, at the former State Penitentiary in Moundsville. Filming also took place in rural Beaver County, including a deer hunting scene in Raccoon Creek State Park and a mill scene in Koppel. Independence Township doubled for Bergen County, New Jersey. The Carrie Furnace, an abandoned blast furnace near Braddock, served as the location for the film's finale. Christian Bale wore a tattoo of Braddock's ZIP code, 15104, on his neck as a homage to the town's mayor John Fetterman, who has the same design on his arm.
The musical score to Out of the Furnace was composed by Dickon Hinchliffe. Originally, it was announced that Alberto Iglesias had reached an agreement to compose the score for the film. However, Hinchliffe later took over scoring duties. Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder re-recorded the song Release from Pearl Jam's debut album Ten for the film, which can be heard during the opening scenes and end credits. A soundtrack album featuring Hinchliffe's score was released digitally on December 3, 2013 by Relativity Music Group.
The film premiered at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 9, 2013 in Hollywood, California as part of the American Film Institute's AFI Fest. It received a limited release in Los Angeles and New York City on December 4, 2013, followed by a wide theatrical release in the U.S. on December 6. Director Scott Cooper won the award for best first or second film for Out of the Furnace at the 2013 Rome Film Festival.
The Pearl Jam song "Release" is featured during the opening title and features in a newly recorded edition during the end credits.
Out of the Furnace was the only new film to receive a wide release in the U.S. on December 6, 2013, and earned an estimated $1.8 million on its opening day. The film took in an estimated $5.3 million over its opening weekend. The film came in third behind the animated Disney film Frozen, which brought in $31.6 million, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which had $27 million in ticket sales that weekend. Relativity Media had pre-sold the film to foreign distributors for $16 million, which offset its costs.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an average approval rating of 53% based on 182 reviews and an average rating of 5.9/10. The general consensus for the site says: "While it may not make the most of its incredible cast, Out of the Furnace is still so packed with talent that it's hard to turn away." The film holds a score of 63 (indicating "generally favorable reviews") out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 40 critics.
Top ten lists
Despite its mixed critical reception, Out of the Furnace appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2013.
- 2nd – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
- 2nd – Clint O'Connor, Cleveland Plain Dealer
- 4th – Marc Doye, Metacritic
- 6th – Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
- 7th – Kristopher Tapley, Hitfix
Town officials from Mahwah, New Jersey, urged a boycott of the film due to negative depictions of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, an indigenous people living around the Ramapo Mountains, characterizing the film as a hate crime. Relativity Media responded that the film "is not based on any one person or group" and is "entirely fictional". Nine members of the group, eight of whom have the surname of the film's lead character, DeGroat, filed suit against the makers and other involved parties, claiming that Out of the Furnace portrays a gang of "inbreds" living in the Ramapo Mountains who are "lawless, drug-addicted, impoverished and violent." The lawsuit asserts that "The Defendants, and each of them, knew or should have known that their actions would place Plaintiffs, and/or any person so situated in a false light." The suit continues, "The connection between the ethnic slur of 'Jackson Whites', with the location of the Ramapo Mountains of New Jersey', with a Bergen County Police patrol car, with the surnames 'DeGroat' and 'Van Dunk', is too specific to the Ramapough plaintiffs to be chance, coincidence or happenstance, and implies an element of knowledge on the part of the Defendants, or some of them."
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- "Three-Time Oscar®-Nominee Alberto Iglesias to Compose Original Score for Scortt Cooper's Currently-titled Out of the Furnace". Relativity Media. June 5, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
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- "'Out Of The Furnace' Headed To LA & NYC Two Days Before Wide Release". Deadline Hollywood. November 21, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- Lyman, Eric J. (November 16, 2013). "Rome Film Fest: Italian Docudrama 'TIR' Wins Top Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
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- Stewart, Andrew (December 8, 2013). "Box Office: 'Frozen' Ices 'Fire' in Weekend Showdown; 'Furnace' Fails to Gain Any Heat". Variety. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
- Kaufman, Amy (December 8, 2013). "'Frozen' tops 'Catching Fire,' but 'Furnace' generates no heat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
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- Duffy, Christie (December 4, 2013). "'Out of the Furnace' under fire in Mahwah". FiOS1. Archived from the original on December 10, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
- Ivers, Dan (December 5, 2013). "Ramapough Indians, Mahwah officials decry depiction in new movie as 'hate crime'". NJ.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
- Incalcaterra, Laura (December 6, 2013). "Ramapough chief denounces Christian Bale movie as 'hate crime'". The Journal News. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
- Ma, Miles (December 23, 2013). "Members of Ramapough seek $50 million from makers of 'Out of the Furnace' A lawsuit says 'Out of the Furnace,' starring Christian Bale and Zoe Saldana, misrepresents members of the Ramapough Mountain Indians. (Relativity Media)". NJ.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
- "WILBUR C. DEGROAT, III, ARLITTA DEGROAT, LEON DEGROAT, DIANE DEGROAT, PIA DEGROAT DENNISON, MARIE DEGROAT MANN, RODNEY VAN DUNK, EUNICE DEGROAT, GILBERT DEGROAT,, ROSEMARIE MANN, AMANDA MANN, DAWN MANN, SANTANA PETERSON, JAZMINE PETERSON, RACHAEL MANN, DANIEL W. DENNISON, JR and JON VAN DUNK, Plaintiffs, v SCOTT COOPER; BRAD INGLESBY; RELATIVITY MEDIA, LLC a California limited liability company; APPIAN WAY, LLC, a California limited liability company; ENERGY ENTERTAINMENT, INC., a California corporation; SCOTT FREE PRODUCTIONS, INC., a California corporation; RED GRANITE PICTURES, INC. a California corporation; and JOHN DOES 1 to 5, Defendants" (PDF). NJ.com. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
- "Judge tosses out Ramapough Mountain Indians' lawsuit over Out of the Furnace". The Star Ledger. May 16, 2014. p. 17.