According to the LA Times, Cyrus, starring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill “more than doubled its theater count from 200 to 446 but saw its ticket sales decline from $1.3 million to a studio estimated $1.1 million. While ‘Cyrus’ continues to play well in cities, it didn’t find much of an audience in the new suburban theaters where it opened this weekend.”
Well, duh. Every week at the newspaper, we have a ritual. Wed. a.m. we’re kiddies checking out the goods under the Christmas tree, peeking under the wrap. Where will Santa Empire put our favourite indie movies (if they show up at all) this weekend: downtown, within walking distance? Or–as we did on Saturday to see Cyrus–do we have to take our bi-annual, long, help-us-if-it-shows-up bus ride, squeezed in between neck tattoos and grandmas, to then march up a unmarked grassy hill into a sidewalk-free box store complex that obviously hates you because you don’t own a car? It’s like a pile of holiday coal (or oil-burning) for car-free, independent movie lovers. Though the mathematical “art” of theatre programming has been explained to me numerous times, we have our own system. Downtown movies and route 52 movies. Cyrus: definitely small, definitely downtown. Last Airbender? #52, you can keep it, and your 3D glasses, too.
Cyrus was actually worth standing in front of the Zellers bus stop for 30 minutes in a scorching asphalt soup, but the theatre was empty and a few impatient guys–no doubt trying to find the Superbad in the Duplass brothers’ stellar script–couldn’t make it to the end. Next time, Empire, listen to your royal subjects. They have spoken.
But wait, there’s this…according to the same article, downtown lesbian-family film The Kids Art All Right “had a very strong expansion on its second weekend from seven to 38 theaters, all in major cities. It sold just more than $1-million worth of tickets, or $27,000 per theater.
“Focus distribution president Jack Foley said he’s now confident that the Sundance Film Festival favorite starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo will end up with more than $10 million. The indie division of Universal Pictures is expanding ‘Kids’ aggressively to build on its box office momentum, taking it to about 175 theaters on Friday and more than 500 on July 30.”
I am sure theatre programming involves some alchemy and a little faith, too. And I suppose, the more these small films find their way into big theatre audiences, the more studios will hopefully take chances. Maybe on quiet little scripts from Halifax. Ahem.