COLUMN: Limited releases rob many moviegoers of great independent films
Last weekend, I was planning to go review the film “Hysteria,” a British romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator, but when I went to look up show times, I discovered it was not playing here in Norman. So I checked other theaters in Oklahoma City, but the film was not playing there, either.
This is because “Hysteria” — like many other foreign, independent and low-budget films — only got a limited release in theaters rather than a wide release. A film gets a wide release when it is shown in more than 600 theaters, while a limited release means it will be shown in fewer than 600 theaters.
It also often means the film will only be released in large cities like Los Angeles and New York, so it never makes it to smaller cities in the middle of the country like Norman or Oklahoma City.
Because of this, many Oklahomans will miss out on some of the summer’s best films, such as “Hysteria,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Ruby Sparks.”
“Moonrise Kingdom,” the newest film by Wes Anderson ("Royal Tenenbaums," "The Darjeeling Limited"), tells the story of two 12-year-olds who fall and love and run away together. While authorities search for the children, a storm begins offshore of their small island community, and the town is shook up in more ways than it can handle by all of these events.
This film currently has a 97-percent rating on RottenTomatoes.com and stars quite a few big-name actors, such as Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. Unfortunately, it will most likely never appear in theaters here in Oklahoma because the film is only being released in very large cities mostly along the East and West coasts. It will be in select theaters starting Friday.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” directed by Benh Zeitlin, tells the story of a 6-year-old girl from the South who goes searching for her long-lost mother after her father becomes seriously ill. The little girl believes the natural world is in a delicate balance with the universe until a storm challenges this belief.
It won the Grand Jury (Drama) and Best Cinematography awards at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Like “Moonrise Kingdom,” it has been getting rave reviews, but it will only be released in select theaters, most likely none in Oklahoma. It will be released June 27.
“Ruby Sparks,” directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris ("Little Miss Sunshine"), is a film about a young writer, Calvin, who achieved great success early in his career but is now having trouble with his writing as well as his love life. He eventually is able to create a new character named Ruby Sparks, with whom he starts to fall in love. Ruby then appears in real life, astonishing Calvin.
It stars Paul Dano, Steve Coogan, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas and Elliot Gould. Once again, it is unlikely that this film will make it to any theaters near Norman because it will be released only in limited theaters July 25.
These are just a few of the many great films that will not make it to movie theaters in Oklahoma this summer because they are not getting wide releases. This is incredibly unfortunate for all of us who live in the Sooner State because we will have to wait months for the films to be released on DVD or Netflix before we can view them.
It is so unfair that living in a small state forces moviegoers into only seeing big blockbuster films and missing out on all of these wonderful films that tell riveting stories with marvelous actors. But we must all make do with the films that are wide released, so last weekend, I had to go see “Battleship” instead of “Hysteria,” and this weekend, all of you will have to see “Men In Black III” instead of “Moonrise Kingdom.”