Ed Driscoll

"Brian DePalma Has No Friends"

Force Majeure Farm performs some simple arithmetic:

When I was in second grade, I played the part of one of the innkeepers in St. Catherine’s School nativity play. I was a great innkeeper and delivered my line (line, not lines) so memorably, with such expressive gesture (gesture, not gestures), that my parents still like to tell the story each year over Christmas dinner. “There is NO room at the INN!”

There were at least 100 friends and relatives packed into the room to see our little production, all smiling and wishing us well. Sister Marita stood in the wings, script clutched to her chest, exuding confidence in us.

Last weekend, Brian DePalma’s movie Redacted opened in 15 theaters. 3,000 people showed up. 3,000 — I had to look at the article twice — not 30, 000, not 300,00 — 3,000. That works out to 200 people per theater and about $26,000 in gross profit.

This amazes me, because I would have figured the school play effect would have been much larger. By this I mean that, no matter how boring the play, no matter how bad the actors, you can always count on your mother or best friend to attend and tell you it was wonderful. By adding in a famous director, a professional cast and crew, and expensive marketing campaigns, one could reasonably expect the school play effect to be magnified — conservatively, let’s say 10 family and friends per cast/crew member who will see the movie out of die-hard loyalty.

IMDb lists approximately 85 people as the official cast and crew for Redacted, who therefore account for nearly a third of the audience according to “school play” math. Since I’ve never heard of any of the cast members (admittedly, I don’t follow Hollywood that closely), I’ll give DePalma credit for drawing in the remaining audience: 2,150.

Wow. Who told DePalma and his backers that this is a movie people want to see? Where was his big cheering section when it counted, literally counted, in ticket sales? It’s enough to suspect a Hollywood fragging.

He should have hired Sister Marita.

I have no idea if insurance companies still do this, but for years, wannabe insurance men had to go through a sort of rookie hazing the agencies typically called “Project 21”. Which was a fancy way of saying that they had to write down the list of 21 names of their friends and families and give them the hard sell for a life insurance or auto policy. Maybe DePalma should have had each member of his crew make a Project 21 list in return for employment.