Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
The Weinstein Company has managed to hit the zeitgeist on plenty of occasions, but this is one has eerie timing. The same weekend that the Trayvon Martin verdict was read, the company also happened to release its Sundance Film Festival ’13 winner Fruitvale Station in 7 theaters, pulling in a broad reach of audiences even as the Twittersphere linked the film with last night’s George Zimmerman verdict. Director Ryan Coogler’s drama, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and was picked up by TWC at the festival, tells a story that draws parallels with the Martin case which has gripped the 24 news cycle the past couple weeks. Fruitvale Station grossed $377,285 for a stellar $53,898 average in its opening weekend.
TWC’s president Theatrical Distribution, Erik Lomis acknowledged the timing of the film’s release, though he chalked most of the film’s success to its quality rather than timing Sunday morning: “It’s a counter-programmer to the summer popcorn fare. It’s a movie that really makes you think and makes you look inside. It has a great message about a tragic situation and we’re proud of the film and the talent. These numbers speak for themselves.” Relating it to the Martin verdict he noted: “It’s a similar issue and in the public sphere — we didn’t plan that of course. I think our picture has a very important message and we want as many people to see it as possible.” Lomis noted that the film played across the spectrum with a 43% white and 29% African American audience over the weekend. (more…)