Thursday, October 16, 2014

One Chance

It seems like I saw the preview for One Chance a lot at Kendall Square this year, so it was kind of a surprise when it wound up only opening at Coolidge Corner and just generally landing with a thud at the box office.

I mention in the that the Weinsteins, during their Miramax heyday, would have done more with this, selling theaters and audiences enough on it to get a wide release and make some cash, whereas when it started I was actually kind of surprised to see the "Weinstein Company" logo; I'd sort of figured on this as a Fox Searchlight sort of production. Apparently all those previews ran before the studio decided to make it available for free on Yahoo! Screen, although considering how few people probably knew YS existed before it was announced they had picked up Community (and probably still won't really go looking for it before that premieres), I don't know how much that affected audiences opting not to see it that way versus theaters not booking it.

And that really seems to be the story of The Weinstein Company this year - in trying to embrace the new realities of video on demand and streaming, they really seem to be screwing up what seem like fairly good bets. Snowpiercer shouldn't have been a sleeper as a great big sci-fi action movie starring Captain America. One Chance is pretty darn mainstream, but unless Yahoo! paid them a ridiculous amount, a $32K opening weekend is just embarrassing. And their deal with Netflix for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 had the brilliant result of getting every theater chain in North America to say that they won't play their movie eleven months in advance.

Maybe they're ahead of the curve, and by taking these hits now they're learning how to survive and even thrive in the next version of the movie business when you don't have the massive franchises that the major studios do. But in the meantime, it sure looks like repeated shooting themselves in the foot.

One Chance

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 13 October 2014 in Coolidge Corner #1 (first-run, DCP)

Once upon a time, the Weinstein brothers might have been able to make the pleasant-enough One Chance a sleeper hit, if not necessarily an awards contender; today they are barely able to get it noticed. And that's not fair either - it's a fine evening's entertainment, delivering exactly the same sort of charming true story that it promises.

It's the story of Paul Potts (James Corden), a cell-phone salesman still living with his parents in his late twenties. It's not a terrible life - he works with his best mate Braddon (Mackenzie Crook); he's finally meeting Julz (Alexandra Roach), the nice girl he's been chatting with online for the past year; and he's almost saved enough to attend a prestigious opera school in Venice. Singing opera is a dream that his mother Yvonne (Julie Walters) has always supported far more than aggressively working-class father Roland (Colm Meaney), and one that seems to get two steps further away with every step he makes in that direction.

One Chance came out in the UK about a year ago, where Paul's eventual run on Britain's Got Talent is much better known, which may help explain just why the film proceeds on such an even keel: Even beyond how they don't generally make movies about guys who choke on stage and then, after a number of trials, choke on stage again, the events are fresh in the mind of the film's main audience. As much as this kind of drains tension and suspense, it does have an upside in that what could be a series of very melodramatic moments instead becomes comedic: For crying out loud, what other sort of injury that messes with one's ability to sing will he suffer?

Full review at EFC.

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