"Hurricane" Coming Back to NY Streets; Freeman Discusses Re-launch and His New Film
by Eugene Hernandez
How does that old saying go? Be careful what you wish for, because you
might just get it? The thought comes to mind when considering the recent
release of Morgan J. Freemanís debut film, "Hurricane Streets." Clearly
the hottest film at Sundance last year, "Hurricane" captured three awards,
including the DGA Directing award for Freeman. Shortly thereafter, MGM
nabbed the domestic rights to the project with a plan to unveil the movie
in theaters last fall. What could have been better? Now over a year later,
Freeman and company are second-guessing some of those decisions and
digging in for the filmís quickly organized return to New York City screens
MGM decided to scrap the limited fall release date, telling Freeman, and
producer Gill Holland, that the film would instead be released wider in
early '98. "Overall, their strategy was to go larger than they initially
planned," Freeman told indieWIRE. The company decided to jump to 100
screens for the release, with advertising on television and radio for the
debut. What seemed like a dream come true for Freeman, became a
disappointment as the film, lacking the star power to support the wider
release returned underwhelming grosses. While the film performed
strongly in the more urban "exclusive" markets, it managed disappointing
per screen numbers overall, so MGM quickly pulled the film. Looking back,
Freeman ackowledges that a more limited release might have better
suited the movie.
Now, in some respects seeking a sense of closure, Freeman convinced
MGM to re-open the film in New York City where it performed well. On
location in Nevada on the set of their new film, "Desert Blue," during
the opening weekend, Freeman, Holland, and "Streets" star Brendan
Sexton Jr. were unable to publicize the release or attend premiere
screenings. Now, with the film set to re-open tonight in Chelsea
and at midnight Angelika showings, the trio will be on hand to pass
out fliers and to soak in the long-awaited theatrical premiere moment.
It will be the first time that Freemanís sees the film with a paying
crowd since its Park City debut in January of 1997.
Despite representation by a William Morris agent and a Three Arts
manager, Freeman told indieWIRE that he made calls personally to
secure the NYC re-release. Freeman confirmed that MGM is supporting
the release with a modest print campaign. While he admits that they
cannot afford to spring for a New York Times ad, he ackowledged that
there will be advertisements in weeklies, including the Village Voice
and TimeOut New York.
With the picture lock on "Desert Blue" just a few weeks away, Freeman
is preparing to embark on another round of acquisitions action. Yet,
following the "Hurricane" release and a few studio experiences under
his belt, he is beginning the process with a more seasoned approach.
Freeman would like to show the movie to distributors after Cannes,
with an eye towards showcasing it at a higher profile fall festival
"Blue", the story of an L.A. actress stranded in a small town after
a chemical scare causes a quarantine, reunites much of the
"Hurricane" production team, including Holland, producer Nadia Leonelli,
D.P. Enrique Chediak, A.D. Jamin O'Brien, and editor Sabine Hoffman.
The film was also produced by former Gregg Araki producer Andrea
Sperling, with financing coming from the Hollywood Stock Exchange.
Beyond "Hurricaneís" Sexton and Isidra Vega, the cast for "Blue"
includes Christina Ricci, Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and Ethan Suplee.
When talking with potential distributors, Freeman admitted that he
hopes to find "a place not only where the movie can find a home, but
where I can find one too." Joking, he added that he is "interested in
a long term relationship, not a one night stand."