In a rare move, the producers of An Open Secret, the documentary about child molesters in Hollywood that bombed recently at the box office, are blasting the film’s director Amy Berg for not supporting it, saying she turned down “dozens” of requests for press interviews. Berg, who gave interviews to many media outlets — including Deadline — didn’t do any major broadcast news interviews.
It’s doubtful, however, that those would have helped the film’s prospects much anyway: Because of its sensational subject matter, it received widespread media attention – and still flopped, opening June 5 via distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures in nine theaters in Denver and Seattle (it grossed about $200 in that first frame in Seattle). It appears that because of its subject matter, very few people wanted to see it.
Executive producer Gabe Hoffman believes the film would have done better if Berg had done some TV interviews. “It’s heartbreaking,” he told Deadline. “It’s been a disappointment to everybody. To be given a national platform to support an independent film is like a winning lottery ticket — a real chance to talk about the issues and raise awareness and to do some good. But Amy has declined all these press interviews, citing a busy schedule.”
Berg, currently filming a documentary about the life of rock legend Janis Joplin, gave interviews about An Open Secret to Deadline, BuzzFeed, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap and Elle Magazine – but Hoffman says she turned down requests from major TV news networks that could have expanded the film and its cause to a wider national audience.
Berg declined comment, but sources insist she gave “tons of interviews” about the film, and that the producers’ claims are simply not true. They say that Berg, who received an Oscar nomination for Deliver Us From Evil, her 2006 documentary about child molestation in the Catholic Church, remains “totally committed” to the film and to the prevention of child abuse in the entertainment industry. They also point out she warned producers that their decision to move up the film’s release date several months to June 5 would conflict with her schedule, when she would not only be filming the Joplin documentary but also travelling the festival circuit to promote Prophet’s Prey, her film about Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints who is serving a life sentence for sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of children.
In a statement to Deadline, Hoffman said: “Our film was fortunate to have initially received a multitude of media requests for interviews from the film’s director, Amy Berg, as the film approached the marketplace. Unfortunately, Ms. Berg has so far declined every one of those numerous opportunities to promote An Open Secret which were relayed to her, including many from prominent national media outlets.”
Hoffman added “the survivors and their families who made An Open Secret possible, through their bravery to come forward on camera and tell their stories, placed a sacred trust in Ms. Berg, as director — to be their champion, in promoting their cause. All of us at An Open Secret are extremely disappointed in her unfortunate decision over these past few months. We are hopeful that those outlets will ultimately wish to cover An Open Secret, regardless of whichever particular individual producer or senior team member is willing to speak, in service of the important cause for which the film advocates. The most important thing is that these many past and pending opportunities to raise awareness about how we can better protect our children do not become permanently squandered as a result of Ms. Berg’s decision.”
An Open Secret struggled to find a distributor, and when it did, struggled at the box office and has yet to get a TV deal that could bring it to a wider audience.