By JAMIN WARREN, Wall Street Journal January 13, 2007; Page P2
Despite critical praise, the futuristic
infertility drama "Children of Men" has grossed only about $14 million.
Some worry that Oscar voters will overlook the film as they submit their
nominations, due Saturday.
But a five-minute Internet film lobbying
for the film's nomination gained quick popularity this week. Made by
28-year-old Los Angeles student Blair Erickson last Saturday, the video
has been praised on popular Web sites like Digg and Defamer. "I was
blown away that I hadn't heard anything" about the film, he says.
Bolstered by the spread of video-editing
software and the emergence of video-sharing sites like YouTube, amateur
video editors' work is becoming commonplace. Last fall, fans created
tribute videos for candidates for college football's Heisman Trophy.
Universal Pictures, which released the
film, heard about the video last week and wasn't involved with making
it, says Adam Fogelson, president of marketing.
Says Mr. Erickson: "Getting nominated
was not the real goal. Really, I just wanted more people to see it."
Children of Men , a film that was apparently held in higher regard by critics and audiences than it was by Universal, the studio that released it, landed in third place at the box office over the weekend, as it raked in $10.2 million at just 1,209 theaters, fewer than a third of those showing the No. 1 film, Fox's
Night at the Museum. Children averaged $8,435 per theater versus $6,355 for Museum.
J. Hoberman, writing in the Village Voice, recently remarked that Universal had been treating the movie "like a communicable disease." Sheerly Avni, writing on the liberal blog Truthdig Monday, called it "an orphaned masterpiece," and one fan, disgusted with the official trailers for the movie, created one of his/her own and posted it on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lfs1UIKALQ), where it has drawn considerable comment and praise from fans.
Ads in trade papers and DVD screeners may still be the most effective
ammunition for an Oscar campaign, but that hasn't stopped fans from
throwing their hats in the ring to help out.
On Sunday, a passionate fan of Alfonso Cuarón's dystopian epic Children
of Men decided to post a plea for why the film is the best film of the
year. Compared to most DIY tributes, the clip is well made and effective
-- clips from the film are interspersed with gushing quotes from film
critics, as Jarvis Cocker's "Running the World" plays on the soundtrack.
The user, "blairerickson," embedded the clip on the Something Awful
forum, along with a long explanation for why the film deserves
consideration. I happen to agree with him -- in my opinion, Children of
Men is the best studio film of the year, and since I love Jarvis, it was
a pleasure to watch. The only question that remains is whether "blairerickson"
is a real person or a creation of the Universal marketing department.
Either way, something tells me Universal put the clip the Web. Blaire,
if you're really out there, let us know.
http://www.reelpopblog.com/ Children of Men meets the children
of Digg and YouTube
As my colleagues at the Risky Biz blog point out, the dystopian film
"Children of Men" is the subject of a grassroots campaign (or netroots
campaign, depending on your geek quotient) to have it nominated for best
picture of the year.
VIDEO CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS SO WATCH THE FILM
WHY DID THIS
"Children of Men" is a very beloved film on the internet, starting first
pre-release thread pronouncing it "the best movie I've seen in a
couple years." In
the SA Film Dump the movie scored a whopping 5.021 average out of
248 votes so far. When TheSwami and I ran
a poll at Cinema Discusso for Best Picture of 2006, the movie slowly
built into the lead as it went wider in release until scoring the #1 out
of 25 movies ranked with over a thousand people voting.
The only problem is that none of this seems to be having any effect on
the real world "buzz" behind the movie. Despite its 93% positive at
Rotten Tomatoes, the movie opened to lukewarm #3 at the box office this
1. Night at the Museum $23,743,960
2. The Pursuit of Happyness $12,880,926
3. Children of Men $10,197,775
Yes that's right, its getting beaten by the
CG museum movie and homeless Will Smith. And it appears that Universal
is basically dumping the film without much publicity or campaign because
they don't know what to do with it.
Don't Believe the (Lack of) Hype:
Despite a nonexistent marketing campaign, Cuaron's latest is not to
by J. Hoberman, Village Voice, December 19th, 2006
History repeats itself: 11 Decembers ago, Universal had the season's
strongest movie: a downbeat sci-fi flick freely adapted from a
well-known source by a name director. With a bare minimum of advance
screenings and a total absence of hype, the studio dumped it. This
year, they've done it again.
The 1995 castoff was 12 Monkeys, this year's victim is Children of
Men, Alfonso Cuaron's dank, hallucinated, shockingly immediate
version of P.D. James's novel. Never mind that Cuaron saved the
Harry Potter franchise and, with Y Tu Mama Tambien, directed the
highest-grossing Spanish-language movie ever released in America (or
that Children of Men was respectfully received at the Venice Film
Festival and topped the British box office the week that it opened),
this superbly crafted action thriller is being treated like a
Ever sensitive to buzz, critics have gotten the message and are
steering clear. When the New York Film Critics Circle met last
week, Children of Men got only a handful of votes, mainly for
Emmanuel Lubezki's sensational cinematography. Earlier this month,
The New York Times imagined Academy members in surgical scrubs, with
a "news analysis" noting the unusual goriness of the year's Oscar
contenders: The Departed, Flags of Our Fathers, Blood Diamond,
Apocalypto, and The Last King of Scotland. A more resonant and
gripping movie than any of these, Children of Men wasn't even
Well with at least another week to go before
Oscar nomination ballots are mailed in, I think it would be helpful to
do as much as possible to at spread the Best Picture buzz for "Children
of Men" across the internet. Though the film is being snubbed by its
studio, perhaps a last minute grassroots hype campaign could change the
tide. That's exactly how Crash won last year. And believe it or not, big
industry players in Hollywood do read internet websites, even this one.
After I wrote
the Uwe Boll article I got fun email from some pretty big name
producers and screenwriters within the first few hours of it going
So what can you do? For starters users can
all "Children of Men" related stories and threads. If you're posting on
other message boards, make a thread telling people to go see the movie.
Oh and feel free to spread the YouTube video around, and perhaps that
will remind a few academy voters somewhere about the movie or encourage
more of them to check it out to see what the buzz is about.
Summary: People really love "Children of Men" and so do the
critics, but the film is being dumped by Universal and facing the tragic
fate of being ignored by Academy voters, the box office, and eventually
cinema history, unless we help generate the buzz behind the movie.