April 22, 2005
After appearing at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, little word was heard about Madison as it navigated the difficult road of an independent film trying to find distribution. Then it was announced that The Premiere Marketing and Entertainment Group had picked up the film to be one of their first films to distribute, with plans to open it in over 2,000 theaters. Now Lion's Gate will send it to the arthouse lions.
The film tells the true story of the city of Madison, Indiana, and their efforts in the 1971 hydroplane-racing season. The city had had a tradition in the sport, but at that time, economic conditions were making it more and more difficult for the city to compete with the racing teams sponsored by big companies. When the opportunity arises for Madison to host the Gold Cup Championship, retired boat pilot Jim McCormick (Jim Caviezel) convinces the town and retired mechanic Harry Volpi (Bruce Dern) to give the race a try. At the same time, Jim tries to maintain his relationship with his wife (Mary McCormack) and young son (Jake Lloyd).
Hydroplane racing isn't a sport that has a mass following in the US, so it remains to be seen if audiences will turn out for a movie about a sport they may be unfamiliar with. However the "Rocky" underdog genre is generally fairly popular, and there is the family element that might draw. Jim Caviezel may not be a huge star, but starring roles in movies like The Passion of the Christ, Frequency and The Count of Monte Cristo make him recognizable.
In the end, the movie Madison also takes the role of underdog as it tries to position itself as a late-summer family film. This is a position that has paid off reasonably well in the past for movies like Air Bud and Matilda, and movies about underdogs from small-town Indiana (Hoosiers) have performed well before, so don't count out this underdog quite yet. (Calvin Trager/BOP)
Madison will now be distributed by Lion's Gate and is set for release in April of 2005.
Comparison films for Madison