Even before Friday’s box-office reports appeared, I was hearing that James Vanderbilt‘s Truth was doing poorly on both coasts. A friend who attended the 9:50 pm show at Manhattan’s Lincoln Plaza reported that the theatre was nearly empty, and the Los Angeles-based LexG tweeted that “per the Arclight seating chart Room and [Bridge of Spies] are packed tonight, [but] Truth empty all shows. Nobody tell @wellshwood.”
On top of which Cary Fukunaga‘s Beasts of No Nation, which began airing on Netflix as it also opened yesterday in select venues, reportedly tallied a lousy $17K in 31 situations for a per-screen average of $1,742, which sucks wind. Ditto Deadline‘s projected 3-day cume of $54,000. Over and out.
Was I therefore wrong yesterday in stating that Truth and Beasts are the best films opening this weekend and that viewers should take heed? No, I was not wrong. These films are the finest newbies.
I tweeted the following last night: “The public, bless ’em, sometimes has curious taste in films.” Which was a polite or roundabout way of saying that the public only occasionally exhibits taste of any kind in choosing what they’ll buy tickets to, and that they are often lazy, ignorant and ineducable when it comes to catching the highest quality fare. On top of which complexity (i.e., a lack of black-and-white simplicity) scares them to death.
Boxoffice’com’s Phil Contrino: “It doesn’t look good. The release feels really rushed to me. They put the trailer out way too late. Plus the critical reactions have not been enthusiastic enough. I think it’s going be overshadowed by bigger Oscar contenders like Steve Jobs and Room.”
Truth was arguably under-promoted (who waits until three weeks before opening day to release a trailer?) and was certainly under-defended by Sony Pictures Classics. The negative articles didn’t help; ditto CBS officially criticizing its accuracy. All Vanderbilt or producer Brad Fischer said to me during our Greenblatt’s interview was “the movie speaks for itself.” No — that wasn’t enough. Dan Rather should have written a strong op-ed and given it to the N.Y. Times, but all he did was show up for a few interviews. Plus the 67% Rotten Tomatoes score obviously indicated dissent.
SPC had a loser with I Saw The Light, which they bumped yesterday into March ’16, but Truth has the goods, the smarts, the pedigree & Cate Blanchett‘s blazing performance…and they still couldn’t sell it. Maybe it was in the cards no matter what. You can point to that famous quote by impresario Sol Hurok: “When people don’t want to come, nothing will stop them.” Who knows?
I know that I’ve seen Truth three times now. It’s a solid, well-written, well-cut, strongly acted film. One-third of the Rotten Tomatoes gang said no or not so much, okay, but two-thirds said yes. I know what I know, and so do the Movie Godz.