By Karina Longworth
Nikki Finke made an interesting Freudian gaffe in this story on “Midnight Meat Train’”s dismal opening weekend. She quoted Lionsgate’s recent credit infusion as amounting to $340, about $339 million less than the actual number, but just $27 more than what Meat Train averaged on each of its 100 screens. As Finke notes, one of the reasons for the embarrassing take (besides, you know, a complete lack of advertising or reviews) is the fact that Lionsgate booked the film in dollar theaters and second-run houses. They also skirted major markets––in fact, the film opened nowhere near New York City. So not only was this film with a built-in audience (thanks to Clive Barker’s genre credibility) made nearly impossible for fans to find, but stuffing the deck with cut-rate houses Lionsgate made sure that even if the movie filled houses (which it didn’t). it would be a statistic impossibility for it to make any real money.
In her headline, FInke asks the question, “Why Did Lionsgate Dump Clive Barker Pic Into Dollar And Second Run Theaters?” She ultimately drops the vague suggestion that “the answer may well be studio politics,” but declines to offer new insight or information, beyond citing Joe Drake’s much-reported desire to migrate “away from this genre of films in favor of more mainstream fare like Tyler Perry.”
What’s implied in Finke’s write-up and others, but never spelled out, is that in order to complete Lionsgate’s transformation from a profitable house of ill-repute into a well-funded maker of wholly inoffensive middlebrow entertainments, the total failure of vestiges of the previous regime like “Meat Train” is so necessary that the studio couldn’t take chances on the whims of the ticket-buying public––this is a bombing that had to be engineered.