In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_sea_of_trees_ver5

The Sea of Trees

The Sea of Trees uses depression, cancer and suicide as manipulative devices to tug at heartstrings instead of offering even the slightest insight into the…

Thumb_dont_breathe

Don't Breathe

Don’t Breathe gets a little less interesting as it proceeds to its inevitable conclusion, but it works so well up to that point that your…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Lee doesn't think "Kings' was red-lined

Was Spike Lee's "The Original Kings of Comedy" red-lined? Lee doesn't think so. His concert film starring four black comedians opened last Aug. 18 to astonishingly good business, and some believed it was prevented from winning the number one spot at the nation's box office because it was released on only 847 screens, grossing $11 million. The weekend's winner, "The Cell," was on 2,411 screens, grossing $17.5 million.

At the time there were rumblings that Paramount, distributor of the "Kings," had crippled its chances by targeting theaters popular with black audiences. The movie starred comedians, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric The Entertainer and Bernie Mac, whose concert tour has been one of the top-grossing arena shows of recent years. But they were little known to white audiences, and Paramount said it planned to gradually widen the film's release.

"Paramount considers it a small picture and believes it should be treated like a small picture," Walter Latham, co-producer of "Original Kings," complained at the time to TV Guide. "Why? Because it's black actors who they've never heard of and it's a 'black' film and should be treated like a 'black' film."

But Spike Lee now says, "I agreed with Paramount on this. The number of theatres we had was right for this film, in order to maximize the profit. When you make more prints you've got to pay for those prints, you've got to pay for advertising. To play 2,000 screens you've got to play places like Des Moines, Timbuktu... It was debatable whether this film could play in those places."

Lee said people came up to him on the street, saying, "If you'd been on as many screens as 'The Cell,' you'd be number one!"

"But the film's gonna end up making over $40 million domestically and it only cost $3 million," Lee told me. "In a lot of ways, the per-screen average tells you more than the total gross. New Line was spending a ton of money to promote and market "The Cell," because that movie cost $50 million. Paramount bought "Original Kings" from Walter Latham and MTV films, and I think they asked themselves, why should we spend 10 times the money to promote it than we spent to purchase it?"

Lee and Paramount have the last laugh: Both films will end up grossing about the same.

Popular Blog Posts

Hollywood Gave Up on You: The Summer Movies of 2016

A look back at how this summer's best offering, Netflix's "Stranger Things," makes the failure of this season's block...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Dirty Politics May Ruin Distribution, Oscar Chances of Phenomenal "Aquarius"

Pablo Villaça reports on the sad status of Brazil's government and its possible effect on a phenomenal new film from ...

The Top 11 Female Film Characters of All Time

All month, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists has been counting down the top 55 female film characters of all tim...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus