December cometh. Cue ominous music.
That special month when US distributors panic and attempts to fulfill all star contract Oscar-eligibility demands by releasing EVERYTHING, often sloppily, for at least a week when another more traditional rollout would probably win the film more attention... especially from audiences who are trying to squeeze in all the holiday biggies and rarely think, "gee, I'd like to see that movie about Jennifer Aniston being depressed and eating pastries at that one screen before it leaves!" (I don't mean to be snarky. I'm not allowed to talk about Cake yet but I liked it.)
There seem to be seven-day eligibility runs planned for Cake, Black and White, The Humbling, Still Alice, and Mommy... among others though details are purposefully scarce in some of these cases. These qualifiers or last second films are usually quiet since they aren't intended to be true openings of the film and aren't concerned with box office... UNTIL Oscar nominations hit.
The film that seems to have become the most confused over the past several months about when and where it will open and for how long it will play -- hell whether it exists at all -- is Maps to the Stars. Last we heard they were planning a Golden Globes qualifying run but not an Oscar qualifying run which was surely an internet misunderstanding - a digital game of telephone if you will - since why would you bother with the former if you didn't have eyes on the latter? The current plan is to open properly on February 27th nine months after it spurred a lot of press and won Julianne her first Best Actress prize of 2014. The current Maps release date suggests that they're just waiting to capitalize on God's presumed Oscar win on February 22nd for Still Alice.
Here's what I think of that:
This one week business - part of the great 'hide your movie' phenomenon - is, as I'm often ranting this time of year, very anti-audience. I wonder when distributors will catch up to modern pop culture which likes to share beloved things. And very quickly, too. I think this is one of the lesser discussed reasons why people have turned to television for so much for their cinematic fix; it's instant. They can tweet and tumblr away immediately and everyone can be a part of the conversation if they choose to be. It doesn't make any sense to premiere a film with big stars or name auteurs, both easy marketing hooks, at a festivals and then wait a year for release and have to promote it all over again. You lose all that revenue opportunity from all the people who wanted to be part of the conversation to begin with, to see what all the fuss was about. A year later when you need media voices to help promote your film by writing about it they've already exhausted the conversation and everyone cares less even the people who haven't seen it. They sometimes feel like they already have because of the months of conversation last year.
In happier less-ranty news I had all but forgotten that the hit play Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks was being screenified and now it's also declared itself a December baby. It will come into the world on December 12th and here's the poster.
Your guess is as good as mine why they modeled the poster after a photoshopped 1990s DVD cover, but the cast is delightful: Gena Rowlands, Cheyenne Jackson, Julian Sands, Jacki Weaver... RITA MORENO.