It may surprise you to learn that “Maps to the Stars,” David Cronenberg’s 2014 Cannes competition entry slated for official release via Focus World on February 27, is opening at the Sundance Sunset Cinema in West Hollywood on Friday.
It’s not like distributor Focus World is trumpeting this to the rooftops. Buried in the theater’s website is a daily 5:00 p.m. showtime for the film from Friday, December 5 through Thursday, December 11. The one-week run isn’t being publicized elsewhere on the site, nor are showtimes included in the theater’s daily LA Times print ad.
So why is Focus World, which picked up the film on the heels of its Toronto premiere, bothering with such a hush-hush, no-profile early release at all? It looks like they’re giving the film a run rather than a push.
And this in spite of Julianne Moore’s hysterically good, Cannes-winning performance as a delusion-addled actress. Is “Maps to the Stars,” as Awards Daily’s Sasha Stone put it, “the movie Hollywood deserves” but no one will see?
Well, there’s a reason why there has been no official announcement that “Maps to the Stars” would make an Oscar-qualifying run this year. Julianne Moore’s awards campaign reps nixed those rumors back in October, stating that “‘Still Alice’ is pursuing an Academy Awards campaign through Sony Classics. To avoid confusion, we are pursuing a Golden Globe nomination only for Julianne Moore as Best Actress.”
Focus World Senior VP Anjay Nagpal confirms that the multiplatform distributor is partnering with original distributor eOne to fulfill their commitment to give Moore a Golden Globe awards campaign. This quiet one-week play meets the bare minimum screening requirements for an LA qualifying run (seven consecutive days, one showing per day). The lack of publicity and advertising technically rules out Oscar eligibility anyway, as Academy rules state:
“eligible motion pictures must be… advertised and exploited during their Los Angeles County qualifying run in a manner customary to industry practice.”
These secret qualifying runs are commonplace in the industry, in fact. They’re used for films that need to qualify during one year but want to open in the next.
No, Moore’s reps are pushing for the Comedy Globe while they fully support their star’s frontrunner status in the Oscar race for “Still Alice.”
So “Maps,” which is trending at 68% on Rotten Tomatoes, can kiss goodbye to any end-of-the year top ten chances in 2014 or, for that matter, 2015 (by the end of next year, who will remember this film?).
Focus World has its eyes firmly on the real prize: a well-supported day-and-date multiplatform February 27 2015 release for “Maps to the Stars” on about 50 screens, with premium placement from cable companies. No question that this gloriously entertaining, shocking evisceration of Hollywood starring Moore, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack and Mia Wasikowska, is a strong VOD play.
Finally, Focus is making the right call. “Still Alice” was the Moore performance to back, and Sony Pictures Classics got it. So parent specialty distributor Focus Features–which knows all about winning Oscars– agreed that a Focus World VOD plan was the way to go with “Maps of the Stars.” This hugely enjoyable film is far too messy, disturbing and imperfect to click with voters or even most audiences.