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Young women targeted for 'Lovely Bones' marketing push

The Peter Jackson chiller, now showing in three theaters, won't be released widely until next month.

December 24, 2009|By Claudia Eller and Ben Fritz
  • Saoirse Ronan stars in "The Lovely Bones," which was originally expected to appeal to adults but has instead generated strong interest among teen and young adult women.
Saoirse Ronan stars in "The Lovely Bones," which was originally… (Associated Press )

With critics and audiences agreeing that Peter Jackson's chilling drama "The Lovely Bones" is anything but lovely, Paramount Pictures has decided to focus all its energies on a Jan. 15 nationwide release aimed at young women.

The movie, which opened this month at three theaters in Los Angeles and New York, had been previously slated for expanded release at more theaters on Christmas Day as part of a campaign to build its momentum into January.

That momentum, however, has been virtually nonexistent. After debuting Dec. 11 with a modest three-day take of $116,616, receipts dropped 61% last weekend to $45,097. In its first 12 days, "Lovely Bones" has generated just $218,774 in ticket sales, a sign that word of mouth is as poor as the reviews.

But while older adult moviegoers aren't getting excited about "The Lovely Bones," the latest research surveys indicate that females 13 to 20 have a strong interest in seeing the picture. It's currently the strongest-tracking upcoming release among teen and young adult women after this weekend's "Sherlock Holmes," which stars Robert Downey Jr.

Until the heavy advertising campaign for "Bones" rolls out in early January, Paramount is screening the movie aggressively for high school- and college-age girls while it continues to play in three theaters.

Paramount, which inherited the picture from former subsidiary DreamWorks, had originally expected "The Lovely Bones" to appeal to a sophisticated, adult audience. However, test screenings this fall revealed that it wasn't adults but young females who reacted the most favorably after seeing it. Although the movie has some fairly intense moments, it is rated PG-13.

Considering the early bad buzz, however, it remains to be seen whether young women will flock to "The Lovely Bones" in big enough numbers come January to justify Paramount's investment of $70 million in production and an additional $85 million in worldwide marketing and distribution.

claudia.eller@latimes.com

ben.fritz@latimes.com

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