Saturday, March 27, 2010

Uma Thurman Film Makes £88 on Opening Weekend-- How Should a Producer Spin That?

When the producer of your film says this to the press, you know you're in trouble:
"Think how much crap succeeds at the cinema. Motherhood is not bad. It's a very decent movie. I've seen movies that are not half as good."
I've seen movies that are not half as good. This is the producer of the film Motherhood, starring Uma Thurman, talking to the press.

That is one of the funniest things I've ever read in my life. It is so funny that I'm afraid I'm going to have paste it again:
"Think how much crap succeeds at the cinema. Motherhood is not bad. It's a very decent movie. I've seen movies that are not half as good."
The Guardian has the full story of the disastrous opening weekend for the movie that I admit I'd never heard of before this. It reads a bit like an onion article.
Over its opening weekend, no more than a dozen people went to see Motherhood, a semi-autobiographical account of stressed-out Manhattan parenting written and directed by Katherine Dieckmann. The film made just £88 on the weekend of Friday 5 March. On its debut Sunday, box office takings were £9, meaning one person bought a ticket.

The disaster has now degenerated into a bitter confrontation between Metrodrome, responsible for marketing the film in the UK, and producer Jana Edelbaum, who blames the company for Motherhood's atrocious performance.
It was Ms. Edelbaum who remarked to the author of the article that there are far worse films out there than hers. And she may very well be right, I don't know.

But take a look at that log line. "A semi-autobiographical account of stressed-out Manhattan parenting written and directed by someone you've probably never heard of."

How did they get nearly a dozen people to actually go to the movie?

Uma Thurman is a talented actress, and she's been in some good movies. She's also been in some bad ones. Her track record probably isn't good enough to "open" a movie on her own.

So, Uma Thurman's good sometimes, but what's the movie about?

Well, it's a semi-autobiographical account of stressed-out Manhattan parenting written and directed by someone you've probably never heard of.

Hmmm. What do we care about stressed-out Manhattan parenting? I'm going to go check out the 3-D version of Alice in Wonderland
.

Even people in America didn't want to see it:
The film, thought to have cost $5m to make, earned just over £40,000 when it opened in the US last October, but Edelbaum had no idea quite how badly it had performed in the UK until contacted this week by the Guardian. "You're kidding?" she said. "We must have broken a new record for grosses."
As I've already said, I never heard of it. I'm kind of surprised it made £40,000, which is almost $80,000, I think. Not sure about the exchange rate right now (or was that back in October?).

But I don't buy that Ms. Edelbaum didn't know quite how poorly the movie had done. She knew. For a number like that, she probably knew it down to the penny. Producers know that kind of stuff.

As for the director, Ms. Dieckmann, I didn't know her name, but according to wikipedia she actually has a fairly distinguished resume. She has directed music videos by R.E.M. and Kristin Hersh, and episodes of The Adventures of Pete & Pete, a terrific show that was on Nickelodeon about 80 years ago. And a couple of other movies that might be good.

So, yeah, maybe the producer was right. Maybe the movie isn't as bad as most of the "crap" that succeeds at the cinema.

Uma Thurman carrying the weight of the world on her back in the financial failure "Motherhood." As the film's producer says, it's better than most crap that makes money.

Pic source.

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