In an unfortunate twist of cinematic events, the highly anticipated Gina Prince-Bythewood film, “Beyond The Lights” opened this past weekend, but failed to catch fire. The film made its debut on 1,789 screens, but the average take on each screen was $3,633 for a total take of $6.5 million.
This proved to be the lowest opening weekend of any of Prince-Bythewood’s previous films, “The Secret Life of Bees,” which opened (in today’s dollars) with $11.7 million and “Love and Basketball” with $11.2 million.
And those films opened on less screens.
Because theaters aren’t in the business of second chances, what this means is the film will most likely get dumped by many theaters by the end of this week and replaced by something they think will do better, reports Shadow & Act.
So the question is, what happened?
1) Wrong time – Could it be that the film was released later than it should’ve been? Perhaps an earlier release would have made a difference. Say, in Sept or Oct, or maybe it should have been held back until Valentine’s Day next Feb. A Mid November release competes with several high profile films already out or nearing release. Such as the blockbuster film, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” which comes out this Friday. What was their logic? Counter-programming maybe?
Also, maybe opening the film on over 1700 screens wasn’t such a good thing. Could starting off small before expanding to more theaters later – after favorable word of mouth got around – have made a difference? This may have allowed audiences to discover the film for themselves. But then again, that tactic would have likely worked better if the film had opened a month or two earlier.
2) Publicity – Yes, the film was definitely discussed relentlessly on EURweb, and came in with some pretty solid reviews. It was also a bona fide hit when it played the film festival circuit. But aside from some “bus stop” posters here and there, we didn’t see much advance fanfare for the film elsewhere. Did audiences far and wide even know it was out in theaters? And why didn’t they use the director’s connection with “Love and Basketball” to sell the film, which, as Tambay pointed out, is one of those films that EVERY SINGLE BLACK PERSON ON THE PLANET knows and loves? (Well almost everyone…)
Yes it was at the top of the poster in small letters, but who was paying attention? Tell people “Lights” was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, and they would look at you puzzled. Tell them the film was made by the director of “Love and Basketball” and their faces light up.
What do you say was the reason?
Read more “theories” on why this film may not have lit up at the box office on opening weekend, and take a close look at what did, by visiting Shadow and Act.