Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
December 9, 2008
Cadillacs are GM products, after allKim Hollis: Cadillac Records, a film once considered an awards season contender, was exhibited in only 686 locations the weekend after Thanksgiving. Why do you think Sony dumped it there and what do you take from its $3.5 million total?
Brandon Scott: Sony knew they didn't have a hit on their hands as it has been sitting around for a bit. I read that they were just trying to cash in and get whatever they could get. The trailers and everything about this read as "standard biopic type" film. Many potentially good actors are involved. I think Jeffrey Wright is highly under-appreciated, but unlike other biopics where they have focused on some bigger names (see Ray or Walk The Line), this was kind of a grouped effort where the artists weren't as featured. Obviously, something was missed here, whether it was how to market it, or what the focus of the script or film should be...something was just off. (And allow me to say, Mos Def is a solid MC as a rapper, but as an actor he is difficult to watch. His voice just annoys, so I have no desire to see him as Chuck Berry...Sorry Mos.)
David Mumpower: I'm actually a big fan of Mos Def as an actor. I loved him in three different films: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Italian Job and (particularly) Brown Sugar. I also thought this was a great idea for a movie when I first heard it, but the instant it got slotted here, I knew it was screwed. In point of fact, this result is better than worst case scenario. It reflects an acceptable per-venue average north of $5,000. Maybe there was justification for a larger amount of exhibitions for Sony, but they made their call. This one will be lucky to do $10 million domestic. At this point, what is left is the hope that Beyonce Knowles (I'm not calling her that other name) gets mentioned on more end-of-year awards lists than the relatively inconsequential Golden Satellites nod she received last week. And even that goal is probably ambitious.
Max Braden: Despite the traditionally dead weekend, I don't feel like Cadillac Records was "dumped" here. I've seen plenty of ads for it and have heard Jeffrey Wright doing press for it. Dreamgirls was released on December 15th on just three screens before going to 850 after Christmas and then wide in the middle of January, so I'd guess that the strategy here was to hope press would drum up award buzz and then see how audiences responded. The response has been lukewarm, possibly because the musicians here aren't as prominent as Ray Charles or Johnny Cash and not riding the wave of a successful Broadway show. I don't see how changing the details of release would have changed its chances at higher returns or award chances. Some Oscar bait movies just don't take hold. That's how it goes.
David Mumpower: Two weeks matters a ton in this specific instance. The only week after Thanksgiving movie to do well was Behind Enemy Lines and every major distributor knows this. They don't put quality releases out on this particular weekend, and that becomes self-fulfilling prophecy about the weekend's performances to an extent. Even if this were not the case, however, it's just common sense that if a studio truly believes in a project, putting it out the week after Thanksgiving is a poor strategy. Consumers have ample free time to see the movie the week before. Alternately, if a title is pushed those key couple of weeks you don't see as that big a deal, the release is suddenly in the Twelve Days of Box Office range and will have a lot of mini-Friday days of revenue. In this specific instance, we know that there wasn't much faith in Cadillac Records by the venue count. A small-ish release of less than 50 would be indicative of a platformed growth pattern to build awareness. A full scale release of 1,800+ would be an ordinary release pattern for such a title. 686 exhibitions is No Man's Land.