Is this SIFF's Most Commercial Opening Night Ever?
The film that opens the Seattle International Film Festival is often full of the intrigue of the unknown: an African film, a local favorite, a black-and-white updated Shakespeare, a serious portrait of a local rock legend.
Not this year. This year on opening night, May 14, we've got Paul Feig's broad comedy, “Spy,” starring Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, Jason Statham, Bobby Canavale and Morena Baccarin. At least the trailer seems funny:
“Spy” is getting a wide release June 5th, so one wonders what's the point of showing it here. That we get to see it three weeks early? It's not even premiering here. South by Southwest got it March 15th and the Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) has it May 7th. We're thankless thirds.
Larger question: Is “Spy” the most commercial film to open the Seattle International Film Festival? Here's that history, along with each film's widest domestic theatrical release, its domestic box office (unadjusted), and its current IMDb rating:
|Year||SIFF's Opening Night Movie||Widest Release||Domestic Box Office||IMDb Rating|
|1992||Le Bal des casse-pieds
|1993||Much Ado About Nothing||204||$22,549,338||7.4|
|1996||The Whole Wide World||20||$375,757||7.3|
|1997||Addicted to Love||2,021||$34,673,095||6.1|
|1999||The Dinner Game
|2000||Love's Labour's Lost||14||$299,792||6.1|
|2001||The Anniversary Party||120||$4,047,329||6.4|
|2002||Igby Goes Down
|2005||Me and You and Everyone We Know||160||$3,885,134||7.4|
|2007||Son of Rambow||155||$1,785,505||7.0|
|2008||Battle in Seattle||40||$224,169||6.7|
|2009||In the Loop||92||$2,388,804||7.5|
|2010||The Extra Man||33||$453,377||5.9|
|2011||The First Grader||36||$332,306||7.4|
|2012||Your Sister's Sister||101||$1,636,190||6.7|
|2013||Much Ado About Nothing||222||$4,328,849||7.3|
|2014||Jimi: All Is By My Side||75||$340,911||5.6|
SIFF mostly premeries movies that don't get much of a shot elsewhere, which is what film festivals should do. But if “Spy” follows the pattern of recent films starring McCarthy, it'll open in 3,000+ theaters. Which, yes, would be the widest release for a SIFF opening-nighter.
On the other hand, the above list is hardly full of greatness, is it? We've got two brilliant comedies (“The Dinner Game,” “In the Loop”), one Oscar winner (“Braveheart”) and two Much Ado About Nothings (Branaugh's and Whedon's). There are also several films with Seattle connectons: “Jimi: All Is By My Side”; “Your Sister's Sister”; “Battle in Seattle.” I like all that. But there's also a lot of depressive, dull fare. Out of 25 movies, how many of these would you watch again? Or once?
So maybe it's time to go another way.
Even so, opening with “Spy” feels like a bit of a cop out. Anyone know the story behind it?