News

Trends: Hitting it big

Spellbound
August 1, 2005

Spellbound

Worldwide lifetime gross: US$7,457,710

Opened: April, 2003

Nancy Abraham

HBO, VP of original doc programming

I don’t think anyone had really seen a doc like it before. Apparently, at some screenings it became like Rocky Horror Picture Show where people in the audience were shouting out how to spell the words, and spelling along.

Mark Urman

ThinkFilm, head of U.S. distribution

There was an element of surprise [with the] word-of-mouth. The recommendations were doubly enthusiastic and persuasive because it wasn’t just, ‘You gotta see it.’ It was, ‘Like you, I didn’t think I would like it, but I loved it. You gotta see it.’ That’s somehow more potent because you’re identifying the reluctance and then nullifying it.

Mad Hot Ballroom

Worldwide lifetime gross:US$5,960,222

Opened: May, 2005

Nancy Abraham

Perhaps there’s a residual effect, where there’s a great volume of audience who [might consider] Mad Hot because of their experience with Spellbound… people are aware of how much fun it could be to see a film about competing. If you get too many of those, it starts to become a cliché, and that can work against you – too many copycats.

Mark Urman

I don’t think Mad Hot is working because it’s another film about kids – it’s working because it’s entertaining, there’s good word-of-mouth, and it makes audiences feel good. Kids doing ballroom dancing is a particular kind of spectacle.

Winged Migration

Worldwide lifetime gross: US$32,257,753

Opened: April, 2003

David Bondelevitch

Motion Picture Sound Editors, past president

The beauty of the birds carries the story with occasional voice-over and title cards. This enabled the soundtrack to be more creative, using nature’s background sounds along with the birds and wind.

Peggy Dohrman

Loews Theaters, director of sales

The film stood on its own without any cars blowing up – it was just nature. It was peaceful and quiet. Kids came into the theater kicking and screaming. When they came out, it was, ‘Wow, that was great.’

March of the Penguins

Worldwide lifetime gross: US$22,723,388

Opened: June, 2005

Pam Blasé

AMC Entertainment, VPcorp. communications

Fare like that would not traditionally be shown in a commercial theater like ours, but it played so well [in art houses] amc wanted to show it to our audiences; it’s a specialty movie with mainstream appeal. The film speaks to people about courage.

Laura Kim

Warner Independent Pictures, EVP publicity

It has amazing word-of-mouth. [Audiences] come out of it loving it; it’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s sad, it’s an adventure. It’s about life and survival… the birds’ battles and struggles are symbolic of the way we see our lives.

Box office figures courtesy
Box Office Mojo
.

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.