Fox Searchlight’s Napoleon Dynamite, a low-budgeter aimed at 25-and-unders, was facing a bit of a touch-and-go situation at first, but it caught on and may actually hit the $40 million mark before running out of steam. Sundance know-it-alls were predicting marginal business last January, and it clearly hadn’t enchanted the over-40s I spoke to back then…but kids made it into a quasi-phenomenon. Things weren’t looking all that fantastic at first for Open Water either (not conventionally scary enough, not enough twists, etc.), but now it’s a safe bet to top $30 million. The prime goal for distributor Lions Gate was to hit at least $18 million (what with prints and ads); now they’re looking at something like $15 mil over and above.
A recent watching of the DVD of George Lucas’s THX 1138, out 9.14 following a limited theatrical break on Friday, came as a bit of a surprise. For decades I’ve been calling this Lucas’s finest film as well as an indication of an intriguing path he might have followed if he hadn’t hit it big with Star Wars, and it still is that, I suppose. But it no longer cuts through. Where it once seemed darkly prophetic or at least stylistically striking, THX 1138 now seems a touch passe. Hard to say why this story about a spiritually sedated, shaved-head functionary (Robert Duvall) slowly coming to rebel against a white-on-white techno-oppressive society of the future now exudes a been-there, done-that odor…but that’s how it plays. It was all I could do to watch it to the end.
Fahrenheit 9/11 may get nominated for a Best Picture Oscar (or not), but director Michael Moore has decided against submitting it as a Best Feature Documentary hopeful. Hoping to turn as many swing voters against President Bush as possible, Moore has declared on his website he’d like his film to be shown on broadcast TV before the election, even though he admits that Fahrenheit 9/11‘s DVD distributor, Columbia Tristar Home Video, probably won’t allow this. He’s saying it’s “more important to take that risk and hope against hope that I can persuaded someone to put it on TV, even if it’s the night before the election. If there is even the remotest of chances that I can get this film seen by a few million more Americans before election day, then that is more important. Having a second [Best Documentary Oscar] would be nice, but not as nice as getting this country back in the hands of the majority.”
Nikki Finke’s disturbingly funny take on suited Hollywood’s sensitivity to the recent Presidential poll turnarounds is a half-echo, half-lament that the Swift Boat Veterans for Bullshit strategy (along with those ads playing Kerry’s testimony about U.S. soldiers committing atrocities in Vietnam) is working with the undecided’s. It also reminds how quickly currents can change. I’m presuming things will turn back again in Kerry’s favor, especially after he and Dubya lock horns in debate, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling hugely deflated by those polls. Is Kerry an incarnation of the high-minded Henry Fonda character in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man? A candidate who’s too effetely principled to hit back in ways that really matter when the rough-and-tumble demands it?
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