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'Silver Linings Playbook' won't go wide on Thanksgiving after all

November 14, 2012|By Steven Zeitchik
  • Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in "Silver Linings Playbook."
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in "Silver Linings Playbook." (The Weinstein Co. )

With "Silver Linings Playbook" shaping up as a slow-burn title more than a wide release, the Weinstein Co. is altering its plans to open the movie big on Thanksgiving weekend.

The company's chief operating officer, David Glasser, said on Wednesday that the David O. Russell dramedy would roll out Nov. 21 to about 400 theaters, a reversal of an earlier decision to open on approximately 2,000 screens. The movie could potentially expand to 800 screens the following week and begin approaching wide-release numbers in its third or fourth week of release, Glasser said.

"We felt we had the reviews and the long runway after the movie opened to let the word of mouth build," Glasser told The Times. "This is right out of our playbook." A plan for a small release in a handful of markets this weekend, including Los Angeles, remained on track.

With the movie garnering strong buzz out of its Toronto International Film Festival premiere in September, the Weinstein Co. set about enacting a wide-release plan for Nov. 21. Ads on broad network shows such as "Dancing With the Stars" and national football telecasts were bought, while multiplexes around the country were booked for Thanksgiving weekend.

But strong early reviews in a number of markets -- as well as, not insignificantly, pre-release surveys that suggested a modest amount of awareness -- has motivated the switch. The move now opens up a fairly large number of slots at theaters on a key moviegoing weekend.

The shift brings the Weinstein Co.'s plan into alignment with industry observers, who have said privately that they believed a slower rollout made more sense for the film.

With the new plan, Weinstein Co. is hoping to follow in the footsteps of numerous prestige titles that crossed over to commercial success, including "The Descendants" and Weinstein Co.'s own "The King’s Speech," which passed the $100-million mark as it took the best picture Oscar in 2011. Both films rolled out slowly over the holiday season, holding fire until reviews and word of mouth were in full effect.

Glasser said the company is still satisfied with awareness on “Silver Linings” but acknowledged the company would benefit from the added time. The media campaign would remain intact, he said.

Starring Bradley Cooper as a man with a bipolar disorder who strikes up a complicated relationship with a quirky woman (Jennifer Lawrence), "Silver Linings Playbook" is a rare hybrid this season. Its moments of antic comedy, as well as subplots about football and ballroom dancing, give it a crowd-pleasing element many awards films lack.

Still, the movie is capable of succeeding in multiple realms: Even as test and festival audiences have embraced it, awards pundits have listed it as a front-runner for best picture.

ALSO:

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Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

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