Warner Bros.’ decision to secretly screen Andy and Lana Wachowski‘s Jupiter Ascending (opening 2.6) last night at Park City’s Egyptian theatre didn’t turn out all that well. The Egyptian is a small theatre but the crowd was far from capacity, according to Variety and a couple of tweets, and all were forbidden from reviewing until next week. The elf-eared “space opera” is anything but a typical Sundance-type film, and everyone has been presuming all along that it’s some kind of problem movie so why show it here in the first place? A fair number of Sundance-attending press weren’t invited, were turned away at the door or didn’t even know about the screening, to go by several conversations I had last night.
From Variety‘s Ramin Setoodeh: “Despite the hype of a secret Jupiter Ascending screening, clusters of seats inside the 300-person venue remained empty, and a handful of patrons walked out” — bailed! — “of the two-hour-plus space epic starring Mila Kunis as a princess and Channing Tatum as an intergalactic soldier tasked with rescuing her.
“The Wachowskis’ flair was fully on display, with sequences reminiscent of The Matrix or Star Wars. But when the film ended, the usually gracious Sundance audience didn’t clap at the closing credits.
“‘I hated it,’ said one of the festival’s volunteers, who asked not to be identified for fear of irking Sundance. ‘It’s just ridiculous.’
“Neville Kiser, a screenwriter, thought the movie was hurt by the fact that it was debuting at a venue for highbrow films. ‘I actually liked it,’ Kiser said. ‘But the Sundance context is weird. There were so many people in the audience scoffing and sneering. They are forgetting they are watching a movie targeted primarily to teenage boys. I’m sure those 15-year-old boys, and hopefully girls, will like it.”
If I, Jeffrey Wells, had been there I would have told Setoodeh the following: “It’s a combination of a whole bunch of different kinds of crap wrapped into one big brown superball fantasia.” But I wasn’t there, of course, so this view is invalid, and therefore Setoodeh wouldn’t have asked me in the first place.
Last night: “Eddie Redmayne‘s Norbit,” otherwise known as Andy and Lana Wachowski‘s Jupiter Ascending, is having a Sundance “secret screening” at 9 pm (i.e., 45 minutes from now) at the tiny Egyptian theatre. I don’t know if I could get in if I tried, but either way I’m taking a pass. I’ve been doing just fine with all the indies in Park City. Why would I want a big Wachowski flick to mess with the vibe? It’ll open soon enough — i.e., February 6th. We’re all a little afraid of this film, no? I know that Redmayne and his people are. Let’s just catch it next week. Or the week after. No worries.