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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Cinderella Guarantees Your Slipper

If you haven’t read the story
But is it like a restaurant? How much of your food do you eat before you start demanding the manager? How much would you have to dislike a movie before asking for your money back?
I can’t imagine ever asking for my money back based on quality. I was not the biggest fan of Cinderella Man, but I respect that I paid to see something that people worked hard to make and put real blood, sweat, and tears into. I feel free to criticize, but withdrawing my money would feel like me trying to get something for nothing and I couldn’t do it.
Could you? Would you?
(Didn’t Brian Grazer see S.O.B.? Make Cinderella Man into a musical and re-release it!!! Russell singing “In My Own Little Corner.” Paul Giamatti as The Fairy Godmother. It’s a sure smash!!!)

60 Responses to “Cinderella Guarantees Your Slipper”

  1. teambanzai says:

    I didn’t hear anything bad about the film, I just had no interest in seeing it. Boxing films aren’t that interesting to me.
    Has there been anyone that have been saying the film is bad and should be avoided?
    Can’t they just accept that they made a film that doesn’t have a wide appeal?

  2. patrick says:

    I think it is one of the top three or four films so far this year, but it just felt like it was released at the wrong time. It should have opened smaller and platformed. Million dollar Baby did that and look what happened to it!

  3. Joe Leydon says:

    Patrick: From time to time, people on this blog have complained about platform releases, and have insisted that movies should open everywhere at once, so everyone, everywhere, can see them at the same time. Unless I’m mistaken, you are the first person who’s ever argued in favored of platforms here. Mind you, I think you’re entirely correct.

  4. bicycle bob says:

    u can’t platform a release with a budget as high as cinderella and a star like crowe. this wasn’t some vanity piece.

  5. Lota says:

    I think all movies should platform. The multiplex rules now, so plenty of room, why not. May make people anticipate movies more and not be put off by the ominous second-third week drop.
    I also think reactions to trailers should be taken more seriously in the thimble-sized think tank that is pre-release market testing. If people boo a trailer all around the country, then a Wide release might be a big mistake until trailer and or editing of a movie is rethought.
    Paying movie patrons should be able to ask for their money back if they request it before the halfway point of ANY movie. If a movie fails to grip in the first 45 min of a 100 minute story, then it probably sucks. badly.
    People wouldn’t ask for their money back if they were really enjoying themselves up to the halfway point. I’ve paid to see a beloved movie more than once.
    The bigger problem in the money back guarantee risk is that often the endings suck so badly it sours the build-up to the end point. You want your money back but you did stay til the end. Maybe you can get a Gift Bag in those instances. That would soften the blow to my cranium. “The end of the movie sucked but I got this cool skinny tee, man”.
    For the protrayal of Max baer I would have asked for my money back, no question, for Cinderella Man, also for the quite evident avoidance of the Joe Louis issue and the devil’s deal of pilfered purse earnings–it was evident by half-way through that this subject would not be broached at all. REFUND.

  6. LesterFreed says:

    This is a dumb convo since this has no chance in hell of ever happening. Platforming. It died in 1976 and won’t come back.

  7. nick says:

    I would think it gauche to demand money back,though on a handful of occasions I’ve simply snuck out of one theater and into another. Although I can think of three movies so excruciating that psychic protest compelled me to fall asleep (“Guilty By Suspicion,” “The Bodyguard” and “Legends of the Fall”), but that was towards the end of the years when I felt compelled to see nearly everything that came out, I’ve since developed a much better advance gut for what I’m going to like or not (though I was truly shocked at how dismal “Legends” was); but very little anymore seems like it won’t play as well, or well enough, on video, and a rental’s a fifth of the investment of a New York ticket.

  8. Joe Leydon says:

    Lester: What color is the sun on your world? Does the word “platform” mean the same thing there as it does here? Because here, platforming still occurs. Most recently, with the Oscar-winning “Million Dollar Baby.”

  9. Stella's Boy says:

    I would have asked for my money back. Didn’t care for it at all.

  10. LesterFreed says:

    Hey Joe, what was the last movie with a budget like Cinderella Man to platform? Yea. I can’t think of one either. It is a dead thing. Oh sure they will still do it for smaller flicks. Movies that will get blown away if they try and open big and lose a lot of money. And the sky is blue here.

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    That’s a good question Lester. What was the last movie with a platform release that had a budget comparable to Cinderella Man?

  12. bicycle bob says:

    i can’t think of one movie that platformed with a budget like that and the star power cindy has. u just can’t platform big movies like this when u need to make as much money as u can

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    According to the New York Times filmography of Sam Mendes, Road to Perdition was a platform release because it opened on fewer than 1,800 screens and eventually expanded to over 2,300. But I’d have to disagree with that.

  14. Joe Leydon says:

    Lester: You didn’t say anything about budgets in your original posting. You said: “Platforming. It died in 1976 and won’t come back.” Now you’re coming back and saying something different. Using the same contorted logic that has been applied by some other posters here, this obviously means you’re a bleeding-heart leftie. That, or a racist.
    BTW: I’m sure that my quoting you will upset those people here who don’t like to read quotes. That’s life.

  15. patrick says:

    Just wondering: does anyone think the Oscar/commercial success of Million Dollar Baby hurt Cinderella Man?

  16. LesterFreed says:

    I’ll be a tad clearer next time for Mr. I Don’t Get It Leydon, everyone. But since you avoid my questions about the subject at hand, its obvious you are conceding that you are wrong. Unless you have something smart alecy to say about how I worded this posting here and still don’t get that platforming of most major releases, especially for blockbuster wannabee’s just doesn’t happen. And died in 1976.

  17. Terence D says:

    You just can’t platform a major release in this market. It really goes against everything nowadays. They have so much invested in the first few opening weekends that even if platforming was a better option, it would never happen.
    and 1800 screens isn’t platforming. I’d say it has to start under 750.

  18. patrick says:

    An interesting sidenote: Of all the “big” summer movies I have seen at sneak previews or on opening night, Cinderella Man was the only one that was sold out!

  19. Stella's Boy says:

    When I saw CM last week there were about four people present.

  20. Terence D says:

    Goes to show that every theatre in every town in every state is different.

  21. patrick says:

    yeah but that was last week after it had been out a month, I am talking about opening weekend, which the studios seem to be obsessed with lately.

  22. Joe Leydon says:

    Once again, Les the Mess, you’re adding stuff after the fact to your original posting. Now I’m beginning to think you are a racist leftie, perhaps with a deep appreciation for “The Honeymooners” (the film, not the TV show).
    You keep harping on 1976 — presumably, because you read in a book somewhere that “Jaws” (which forver changed release patterns) was released in 1975. So let me see if I understand this correctly. You want me to name a single blockbuster released since 1976 that was platformed? OK, if you insist: “Star Wars.” Now, if you want me to name something more recent, I need to get a definition from you: Are we talking about movies that EARNED zillions of dollars, or only movies that COST zillions of dollars? Because if we’re talking about COST, and COST alone, I would agree that it’s hard to think of a movie that cost $100+ plus million to make that was platformed. (Mind you, I can think of a few that maybe SHOULD have been platformed, but that’s an entirely different discussion.)But, then again, “Cinderella Man” had a budget of around $80 million, right?
    I’m not trying to be evasive here, I just want to fully understand what you mean. Because if we’re talking about GROSS, well, I’m sure some people on this blog could argue that “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was a blockbuster.

  23. jesse says:

    Back to the question at hand: I think it’s a nice gesture on the part of AMC, supporting a movie they apparently think is high-quality. But in general, it’s a silly, bordering on stupid, idea. It pushes the populism-gone-insane idea that movies should please as many people as possible.
    To ask for a refund after a movie — if you stayed until the end, and I have little respect for anyone who walks out of a movie unless it’s causing them physical or mentral distress — you have to have one of two mentalities. The prevailing one, I would imagine, can be found in the type of person who considers anything playing in less than 800 theaters art-house wankery that “real people” can’t enjoy; that is, they can’t conceive of a movie whose goal isn’t to be entertaining and likable (and probably affirming of their own personal, not particularly interesting, values). Bicycle Bob, for example, judging from previous posts mentioning (dismissing, really) “obscure indie movies,” seems to be in this camp. Perhaps also Box Office Mojo’s Brandon Gray, since I recall his many “Academy Awards are out of touch with ‘the people'” asides/articles from Oscar season.
    The other refund type would be those who allow snobbishness to overtake their understanding of an art form; I didn’t like Cinderella Man, but I’d feel pretty churlish demanding my money back just because it wasn’t hip or smart or edgy enough for me (not that those were my only problems with it, but, again, you have to imagine someone willing to ask for money back on what is inherently a gamble — whether or not you will like a given movie).
    If the *presentation* is poor, yes, by all means demand a refund; in fact, I think more people should do this when they encounter bad framing, schmutz on the lens, sound problems, etc.
    But if you ask for your money back when you don’t like a movie, what kind of a message does that send? That theaters should complain when studios provide movies that John Q. Yokel (or Jonathan Q. Pretentious Jackass) dislikes?
    Further, if AMC is going down this questionable road, I’d love it if they made this offer for a genuinely under-promoted, little-known gem, not an $80 million ex-Best Picture contender that didn’t quite connect. Does Corporate Giant #1 really need Slightly Smaller Corporate Giant #2 to give them a leg up?

  24. Mark says:

    Joe, why are you on the pro platforming team? It works for little movies and movies with zero expectations. But I doesn’t work in a business model for real movies. Studio films. And anything with Crowe is a blockbuster waiting to happen. It has gone to the Hollywood grave just like ripoff studio contracts that last 10 years. It is the past. It is sweet that you’re nostalgic but its unrealistic.

  25. LesterFreed says:

    I am now Les the Mess because Joey I Love The Honeymooners for some reason Leydon can’t read. Does that make you a leftie racist? Quote me on that you jerkoff.

  26. joefitz84 says:

    You don’t platform a movie if you are looking to make money. You platform small movies that may be award worthy or just to fool award voters. It is a terrible idea to platform a potential money maker. Flat out terrible.

  27. Joe Leydon says:

    “Jerkoff”? Ah, more nasty language. You racist, Honeymooner-loving lefties certainly can be nasty little buggers.

  28. joefitz84 says:

    Joe Leydon really hates Lefties. Stella’s Boy you should be prepared. He is coming for you next.

  29. LesterFreed says:

    Figures as much. The guy can’t win a battle of ideas and has to resort to petty insults. if I wasn’t so thick skinned I guess I would take offense. But I never let a dummy ever get me down. And I won’t start now with this one.

  30. Joe Leydon says:

    Petty insults? Moi? Excuse me: “Dummy.” “Jerk-off.” THOSE are petty. Once again, more truth-twisting from commie racists. Stella’s Boy, take note: Don’t be associated with this crowd. It’ll only besmirch your reputation.

  31. Mark says:

    What do you expect from Liberals? Solid discussions and worthwhile movement of ideas? You’re kidding yourself.

  32. jeffrey boam's doctor says:

    Platforming is an essential form of release for particular films – and yes – it can apply to films that have high budgets. All films are potential money makers – and sometimes a scaled release is how you ensure that it becomes a potential money maker. Otherwise it can fail to find its audience, be overshadowed by ballyhoo etc. Two words – ALMOST FAMOUS. btw Star Wars took 6mths to overtake JAWS. 76 the end of platforming? I think you need to check # of prints for most films in the late 70s early 80s.

  33. Angelus21 says:

    The 80’s isn’t todays market. Either is the 70’s. It is feast or famine for most movies.

  34. Panda Bear says:

    Can you imagine if they platformed Star Wars 3? Really fabulous business but you never know in Hollyweird.

  35. joefitz84 says:

    It is essential for small films and award chasers. But it can’t be done for really any other release.

  36. David Poland says:

    Platforming is very, very difficult to accomplish simply in the maintaining and expansion of screen count. It works in peak periods when a slow period is coming and the film is essentially released wide after being released narrow (Christmas/January), but a film like Dogtown would never have gone up from 600 screens had they started there and the big expense is not the prints, but the advertising, which you need a lot of to even support modest releases.
    You may recall that Sideways opened and gave screens up for two months before, esssentially, re-opening. Not a platform.
    The new platform (outside of Dec/Jan) is the festival and college circuits.

  37. KamikazeCamel says:

    “I would have asked for my money back. Didn’t care for it at all.”
    I think it’s pretty pathetic for people to be asking for money back for any reason other than bad cinema experience. If the screen was bad or some other factor came into play, fair enough if you think it warrents it (me and some friends wanted something from the cinema we saw Upside of Anger at because we could hear Star Wars from the next cinema – everything from the music to R2D2’s screeches).
    But if you watch a movie from beginning to end and demand your money back… BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T LIKE IT is just stupid. Who gives a flying fuck (sorry) whether you liked it or not – you paid for it, your watch it. You would know enough about Cinderella Man before going in to, well, know what to expect. If you didn’t like that it was too depressing (?) or too sepia toned (?) then that’s not the cinemas fault and they shouldn’t have to give you your money back because you’re a picky snob.
    And I think that was essentially what Jesse was saying, but, whatever.
    I’m fairly certain Lota’s original ramblings on this thread were absolute drivel. I demand my TIME back that I wasted reading it. Oh, wait, I CAN’T.
    I’m fairly certain the only reason “Million Dollar Baby” eventually got to $100mil is because of the Oscars. If it had “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”‘s release I’m sure – positive reviews or not – it would not have reached that number.
    And can we include “Chicago” as a recent platform success? I believe it started out at only a few cinemas and ended up making $170mil from a couple of 1000 cinemas. I may be wrong though.

  38. Anonymous says:

    My question is how this will affect box office estimates…will we see Cinderella Man estimated higher and then see how many rebates there were after the actuals come out?

  39. bicycle bob says:

    its very pathetic to ask for ur money back on a well made movie like cinderella man. at least ask for it back if ur one of the 5 people who saw the honeymooners. thats worth it

  40. Terence D says:

    Compared to 90% of movies out there, Cinderella Man is a classic. This is just bad business anyway because even if you love the film why wouldn’t you get your money back?

  41. Joshua says:

    KamikazeCamel: Yes, “Chicago” was definitely platformed. It opened on 77 theaters, then the next week went to 304, then 362, then 557, then 616, then 623, then expanded to 1,841 theaters in its seventh weekend.

  42. BluStealer says:

    I wish they gave this deal out for every movie. I’d never pay to see a movie.

  43. Kernan says:

    I think that a return to the seventies model of platforming could help increase buzz about particular films but there is a point to be made that a film of a particular budget could be hurt by platforming.
    A studio would have to be very certain about the buzz a film was creating if they were to platform. With Cinderella Man, I’m not sure if it would have worked because the buzz was very soft.
    On a personal level I don’t like platform releases because I live in Iowa and I can’t stand having to wait for movies like Mad Hot Ballroom and Smartest Guys in the Room. If I had to wait for movies like CInderella Man I would be tearing my hair out.

  44. Josh Massey says:

    I just saw “Be Cool” – had I seen that in a theater, I would have demanded my money back. But not from AMC; I’d have knocked on Travolta’s door.

  45. bicycle bob says:

    travolta should be donating his salary on that to people who paid 10 bucks to see it.

  46. Lota says:

    The money back thing may backfire, because as Blustealer indicated, some people will be corrupt about money, and, even if they enjoyed the movie, would ask for their money back. I think the halfway rule should apply, becasue i find it hard to believe that anyone would leave a movie they were really getting into, halfway through.
    Maybe the answer re. platforming is to start bigger with event/blockbusters (1200-1800), but not go really wide unless they are turning over money by the 4th week. Even small platforms shouldn’t ignore the heartland. I have friends who will drive 4 hrs each way to see a movie simply becasue there’s nothing else for them to do. They’d see anything, if it was available, but often it isn’t. So if a movie is opening, instead of opening only in 20 major cities in a few theatres each, it could be more inclusive, like opening in the biggest college town in the rural states where people are looking for something to do/see in the dog days of summer and winter anyway. Hell why not. Billy Jack four-walled across America and made a fortune versus how much it cost, but I suppose that is an exceptional case.
    Time will tell if my ramblings are Absolute drivel, CK, perhaps I should be more terse. But it’s stress. You try to work with hippees and keep your sanity. But I did find an artist though who even though she’s a hippee and lives on a single track road in SIlverlake, she keeps to deadlines(!), is responsible about money(?!!) and isn’t depressed (!!!).
    So my posts are set to increase in quality.

  47. LesterFreed says:

    Everyone would be getting there money back if that policy was put into place. You want to talk about slumps when that happens?

  48. Anonymous says:

    Do you guys really think the suits haven’t crunched the numbers w/ regards to refunds? Come on, they’ve done their homework and have figured the free publicity that this stunt creates will more than compensate for the freeloaders. And w/ regards to the theaters – F*CK ‘EM! They have no issue charging 10 bones per flick then they can take me asking for my money back after watching the final credits roll as part of the COST OF DOING BUSINESS.
    peace out.
    off topic – platform releasing can’t work on blockbuster bait. The debt is too heavy to carry for an extended run. Besides we’re in the era of “SHOCK & AWE” film releasing. Hit ’em w/ everything you got mentality!

  49. Kevin says:

    “Be Cool” was unwatchable. Didn’t Poland like it or am I wrong?

  50. LesterFreed says:

    Thank you Anonymous for stating the obvious. Where would we all be without ya?

  51. Anonymous says:

    you’re welcome lester.

  52. bicycle bob says:

    who thought be cool would be good anyway?

  53. Terence D says:

    I really liked Get Shorty. Travolta hit a home run with that one.

  54. Mark says:

    Travolta either needs a new agent or a new religion to follow.

  55. not anonymous says:

    Christ there’s a lot of idiots on this website. Who wastes their time saying things like “I really liked Movie X. Actor X was great”. If you’re going to say something, how about some detail? Some personal opinion? Why are you wasting your life parroting advertising taglines?

  56. Kernan says:

    How do they decide to give the money back? If this thing is based on the honor system AMC is screwed.

  57. LesterFreed says:

    I’d be getting my dough back for every movie I saw. Why should I give it to them when i can get it back and see it for free?

  58. Terence D says:

    I really liked Movie Y. Actor B was great.

  59. Chester says:

    Here’s what I’m wondering (I haven’t seen it discussed anywhere): Are the refunds for “Cinderella Man” factored into in its reported box-office gross? If not, “Cinderella Man” could potentially see an enormous bump in its calculated gross and ranking in the box-office standings. That would be an enormous boon for the movie as far as the public’s perception of the film, which will help it on every front. It may sound crazy (and somewhat immoral), but it reminds me of what Prince did to pump up reported sales for his last album, when he gave it out for free to everyone who attended his concerts, artificially pushing it to #1 on the Billboard charts.

  60. BluStealer says:

    Who cares? This has just given the movie free publicity.

The Hot Blog

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin