Slow roll-outs of films don't do them any favors

The Gripe

the gripe

November 17, 2006|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

Case de Areia, or House of Sand, an acclaimed multigenerational saga about women adapting to the remote desert of northern Brazil, opened Aug. 11 in New York and Los Angeles. Following several last-minute delays, it's finally scheduled to open at the Charles Theatre on Dec. 1.

After the movie has dribbled around the country for a third of the year, will anyone recall that its acting and photography won raves from The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Christian Science Monitor?

This kind of "slow roll-out" used to work when art-house movies stayed in their original theaters for weeks and months at a time and national film columns opened their space to spirited critical debates.

But in an era when the fortunes of art movies seem to hinge on their opening weekends in New York and L.A., and only the most high-profile ones win reviews on any kind of slick paper, this form of distribution seems downright suicidal.

If House of Sand does open two weeks from now, I predict scores of confused movie-lovers will call the theater - asking what the heck's the difference between House of Sand and House of Sand and Fog.

michael.sragow@baltsun.com

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