Every film of consequence goes through five awareness bumps before opening. The first bump is absorbing early info (title, synopsis, cast, director, producers) and maybe reading the script. The second comes with first reactions to early screenings (be they research or long-lead). The third bump is comprised of (a) reactions from people you know and more or less trust who’ve seen the film a few weeks before the opening and/or (b) reactions from festival screenings, if a festival showing is a factor. The fourth bump is general reviews, trailers, tracking, first weekend word-of-mouth. The fifth can be the most crucial — reactions from slowboat ticket buyers, second-wavers, doddering Academy types and non-geniuses. If a movie has caught on, the reactions from this last group will reflect that.
So far Warren Beatty‘s Rules Don’t Apply (20th Century Fox, 11.23) has been through bumps #1 and #2. The first reactions were “good if somewhat traditional”, but a more recent reaction from a knowledgable guy is that it’s very good and is in fact a kind of sublime bull’s-eye thing that will connect with Academy mooks. Bump #4 will happen privately in late September and October, but more particularly when his film, a Los Angeles-set late ’50s dramedy involving two employees (Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich) who work for super-magnate Howard Hughes (Beatty), kicks off the 30th AFI Film Fest on Thursday, 11.10. The dream or desire on Beatty’s part, I would imagine, is that under-35 types will relate and embrace given (a) the Collins-Ehrenreich casting and (b) the general theme of seeking a certain emotional serenity — a place of grace, a safe haven — in the midst of a somewhat oppressive and overbearing social system or climate.