Hearts in Atlantis
September 28, 2001
Based on a novella by Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis is a story along the same lines as the much-before-seen formula of two very different people entering each other’s lives and filling the void which exists for each of them. In this case, the lead of the movie is Anthony Hopkins, playing an eccentric older man who becomes a big part of the life of a young, fatherless child. Each has his own demons to overcome, and like most Stephen King dramas, it promises to have a somewhat-new look at an old formula. With Scott Hicks (Shine, Snow Falling on Cedars) directing, it promises to be moody, slow and deeply emotional.
The release date is most appropriate for this movie, as it fits all the parameters for a late-fall/early-winter Oscar contender. At least, that is what the studio is hoping for. The film sees its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival and is in fact the lead film at the festival. Recent hits that have debuted at the festival include Oscar winners American Beauty, Almost Famous and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Hearts in Atlantis debuts the fourth week of September, following the exact release pattern of American Beauty and Almost Famous. And while both films are Oscar winners, American Beauty received more accolades than Almost Famous; one became a $100+ million movie and the other fizzled and faded away quickly. The main difference between the two release patterns is how quickly the movies expanded. Almost Famous’ release pattern was September 13th (NY), September 15th (131 theaters in 10 cities), September 22nd (1,193 theaters), September 29th (1,635 theatres), and October 6th (2,085 theatres); while American Beauty’s release looked like this: September 17th (NY/LA 13 theatres), September 24th (429 theaters), October 1st (706 theaters), October 8th (706 theatres), October 18th (1,226 theatres). American Beauty’s slow release allowed it to build strong buzz and helped it become an eight-digit performer while Almost Famous fizzled in the fall season.
So the thing to look out for here is what release pattern Hearts in Atlantis will have. Of course, this is by no means a guarantee of success. The important thing to note about the two movies mentioned previously is that they targeted a specific age group and were trying to tap into a social comment on life, while Hearts in Atlantis seems like a completely different film. I would liken it to Finding Forrester in material, but not necessarily in marketing. The movie will undoubtedly be a difficult sell, but if the quality is there and the studio releases the film properly, we could see a strong box office take of $30-40 million. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
September 23, 2001
Audience reaction to sneak previews over the weekend was so positive that Warner Bros. has decided to put Hearts in Atlantis in approximately 1,700 theaters rather than the originally planned 1,200. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Comparison films for Hearts in Atlantis
|Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon