Good things come in small packages. I’m talking about Precious, a low-budget movie about an obese Harlem teenager that took in $1.8 million at just 18 theaters in four cities over the weekend. The take of $100,000 per screen is the highest ever for a limited release, especially one that Lionsgate picked up for chump change ($5.5 million). The week’s big package, Disney’s A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey as an performance-capture Scrooge in 3D, opened at No. 1 with $31 million, a bah-humbug start given its $200 million production cost and the rep of Carrey whose How the Grinch Stole Christmas debuted to much cheerier $55.1 million nearly a decade ago.
Which brings me to the matter of marketing. I’m asking what got you to shell out for each of these movies? The reviews heavily favored Precious, which won recommendations from 87 percent of the nation’s critics according to rottentomatoes.com. A Christmas Carol garnered only 54 percent of the reviewing Scrooges.
So here are my questions:
1. Did you see Precious because Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry signed on as executive producers and have used the heft of their hype power to get it noticed?
2. Did you see A Christmas Carol because of the growing appeal of 3-D, especially on huge IMAX screens?
That’s the accepted wisdom. I’m ready to hear you challenge it.