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A-B-C’s: Spelling Bee Finals to air on ABC.

A-B-C's: Spelling Bee Finals to air on ABC.

With the Championship Rounds of the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee set for live broadcast on a major network for the first time, (Thursday, June 1 on ABC from 8 to 10 p.m. EDT/CDT), now seemed as good a time as any to check-in on how the troika of spelling bee films fared at the box office:

1) AKEELAH AND THE BEE: Current domestic gross of $17.1 million and counting…

Though by no means a run-away hit, AKEELAH reigns as the current spelling bee box office champ–by a significant margin. Looks like that Starbucks tie-in worked out after all.

2) SPELLBOUND: Total domestic gross of $5.72 million.

This is a nice gross for a doc–but smaller than one might expect given this film’s reputation. SPELLBOUND is the kind of film just about everyone I know has seen–or talks about having seen. Most who read this blog will likely be surprised that the relatively modest box office bite did not live up to the buzz of the bark.

3) BEE SEASON: Total domestic gross of $1.18 million

Based on the best selling novel by Myla Golberg, and directed by the team of Scott McGehee and David Siegel (SUTURE and THE DEEP END) this film was derided by critics and audiences alike.

Richard Gere may not have been an obvious choice to play an intellectual Kabbalist, but his performance was inspired. He showed more passion in a single scene than Hanks displays in the entirety of THE DA VINCI CODE. (Come to think of it, audiences who were nonplussed by BEE SEASON‘s mystical and metaphysical aspirations can take solace in THE DA VINCI CODE which spoon feeds them a diet of decidedly less challenging and complex ideas.)

Six months after first seeing BEE SEASON (and sitting down with the directors for an interview–pictured), I still find myself still grappling with the issues raised by this overlooked film.

All told, these three movies generated in the neighborhood of $24 million in total domestic box office.

Considering that, until now, the Spelling Bee finals have been broadcast during the daytime on ESPN. does this justify the leap from daytime basic cable to network P-R-I-M-E-T-I-M-E?

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