ICON's struggle to push an Icon

The guys at Icon [howdy gang] did a top job promoting the flick – so what’s the deal with “The Night We Called it a Day” [which by the way, is a damn good movie] not being able to draw an audience? According to the SMH, At ninth at the box office, the film took just $172,000 for a near-disastrous screen average of $973. It trailed three other new releases – Down With Love ($850,000), Tears of the Sun ($764,000) and Take Away ($377,000). Here’s what I think…

Mark Gooder, head of Icon, told the paper he was baffled why the film didn’t make money over the opening weekend. "I honestly don’t feel that we made any fundamental mistakes. It seemed like all the elements were very appealing. I sat in audiences with the trailer and the trailer got genuine laughs … The TV commercials were frequent and on high profile shows like The Block. So I can’t really look anywhere except perhaps the idea of the film."

Gooder did admit that the absence of the stars from the Premiere – yep even the Aussies, like Joel Edgerton and Portia De Rossi – may have hurt the film. Was thinking the same myself.

Now to hammer on too much, but as far as I know and from all sense I get of this business, doing a film doesn’t start and end when that record button is pressed on and then off at the end of a production. Signing up for a big film – like “Night” definitely is – means you’re always basically committed to help plugging the film, be it appearing on talk shows to plug the thing [didn’t see anyone on ROVE promoting it] or at least getting your face out there a fortnight or so before the film opens, be it via interviews [newspaper, TV, Radio] and predominantly, being available to attend your own premiere.

Ok, now Joel Edgerton’s busy making “King Arthur” [though one publicist tells me he’s simply too busy with new love Cathy Freeman] that’s fair enough and I give him points for doing a couple of email interviews with the major papers. He’s a top guy – why couldn’t some of the others, even Dennis Hopper do some Australian press? After all, the role of Sinatra in the film is about the biggest role [and the best] he’s had in 15 years. Surely he owes the company that invested in him, and gave him such an amazing gig? But no, no sign of him anywhere, nor Melanie Griffith [who also owes the studio one, being her best film in years too] and where’s Portia?

Gooder did not believe competition from three other Australian comedies – Take Away, Bad Eggs and Danny Deckchair – was a factor. "To start shying away from other Australian movies just because they’re Australian doesn’t make sense to our business. Every film is different … Perhaps people thought, ‘I know the Frank Sinatra story, I’ve been reading about it and I’m not that interested in seeing a film about it.’ Who knows?"

Producer Emile Sherman was a little surprised the film hasn’t taken off. "The vast majority of reviews were very positive but the negative ones seemed to focus solely on the real events and on the film they wished we had made. So to some degree, it became hijacked by the real events. But that said, most people seem to appreciate the film for what it is – an entertaining comedy drawing on some of the incidents from those times as inspiration."

Ok guys, it’s like this – every bum on seat counts, and I’m not for flogging movies, but this is a good one. So if you want to actually walk away from something this weekend feeling your money’s been well spent, check out “The Night We Called it A Day”. Be interesting to see the figures next weekend. Hopefully, the flick’s still running, ey?