A funny thing happened on the way to awards season for Paramount Pictures' Sundance pick-up "Like Crazy," it found a surprising new audience.
When the Drake Doremus film debuted at Sundance this past January it immediately developed a passionate following, but because the story centers on the love affair between two early twentysomething college students (Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones) it was assumed the story would mostly play to an under 25 audience (well, maybe under 35). And, that's whether it's screening for the general public or for the Oscar crowd mind you. Of course, as any studio awards consultant will tell you, if you want to play a serious dent in the awards game you need to lock in a, well, more "mature" audience. So, beginning in Sept., distributor Paramount Pictures dipped a toe into the water by including "Like Crazy" in Charles Aidikoff's Sunday matinee's series. Aidikoff is the 96-year-old owner of the Beverly Hills screening room that's a staple for a number of distributors, such as the Weinstein Company, who use it for press and media screenings. On this Sept. day, 85 friends and family of Aidikoff (with a median age of 75) showed up for a theater that has only 57 permanent seats. Like audiences at Sundance and Toronto, the older folks "loved" the movie. It seemed that the cinematic love affair hit a chord with the crowd with personal diaries of life experience on love and longing. At a reception afterward, a Paramount rep noted, "A lot of remembering of those very first feelings of love and longing. Lots of sharing of stories. So sweet to witness."
Curious at the response, Paramount decided to hold a screening in the Valley two weeks later and invited a good number of industry and Academy members. Doremus, Yelchin and Jones were all in attendance. The reaction was again, "euphoric." Wanting to make sure these reactiosn really weren't anomalies the studio had yet another "older" screening the following week without the talent on hand. Surprise, more "crazy good reactions." In fact, this industry response has convinced the studio to expand its general release strategy toward an older audiences they weren't expecting. Whether that will work for opening weekend remains to be seen, but it could be the key to great word of mouth for the romance.
Granted, moviegoers of any age appreciate and fall for quality films of all kinds whether it's "Avatar," "Black Swan," "True Grit" or "The King's Speech." But the idea that older members of the Academy would become believers in the indie styled "Crazy" should put other studios on notice that the picture just isn't a Felicity Jones for best actress play. Honestly, I'm not that surprised. I raved about the film after attending its Sundance world premiere and, yes, I'm certainly over 35 (sigh). There is no reason why the picture shouldn't appeal to anyone looking for a powerful and realistic love story.
Moreover, the biggest take away from this industry tidbit? if your boyfriend or girlfriend won't go see "Crazy" with you when it opens later this month, perhaps its worth asking mom or dad.
"Like Crazy" opens in limited release on Oct. 28.
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