This holiday weekend everyone was obviously taken with James Cameron and Guy Ritchie‘s latest flicks Avatar and Sherlock Holmes, because the duo topped the box office. Several other notable films debuted in theaters last week and Terry Gilliam‘s swan song to Heath Ledger, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was one of them, but how many of you knew that? Die hard fans of the late actor have been waiting to see this movie, yet it barely made a dent at the box office. What happened?
Doctor Parnassus was dealt a bad hand from the very beginning, when the film’s star unexpectedly passed away during the middle of production. From that point on we didn’t know if it would ever be completed let alone see the light of day. Through the compassion of other actors such as Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and the magic of movie editing, Gilliam was able to piece together the remainder of the film and package it for distribution.
When Sony Pictures Classics decided to pick up the film and release it in North America, many of us thought the Christmas weekend would belong to Ledger’s legacy, but we were wrong. The holiday weekend is one of the most lucrative times of the year for film studios and they weren’t going to let such an opportune time go to waste. As the year progressed, more and more films were set for Christmas releases, and before you knew it Parnassus was a speck amongst several blockbusters.
Between December 18th – 25th, theaters were bombarded with tentpole projects like Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, Nine, and Alvin and the Chipmunks The Squeakquel. I’ve seen billboards, commercials, and TV trailers promoting all those films, but nothing for Parnassus. What’s up with that? The film debuted with 130,000 dollars and an extremely low theater count. Up in the Air opened with a limited release a few weeks ago, but we still saw George Clooney’s face everywhere, therefore there’s no excuse for the lack of promotion.
Hopefully, with the new year upon us there will be a wider release and better marketing for the film, because it deserves it. The limited time we do see Ledger on screen during Parnassus it’s amazing. He’s also supported by a talented cast including the legendary Christopher Plummer, who’s delightful as the mystical doctor. Let’s light a fire under Sony to get this film more exposure and more screen time!
Are you interested in seeing Dr. Parnassus? Do you think the studio will open it nationally anytime soon?