It should have been a red carpet event. When just one British cinema was given exclusive permission to launch Uma Thurman's new film earlier this month, the film's producers presumably hoped that exclusivity would create a buzz around the movie. Though limiting the release would obviously limit takings, they must have hoped word of mouth could make it a slow-burning success.
But the tactic backfired catastrophically. Instead of audiences queueing round the block of the Apollo West End in Piccadilly Circus, London, to see the star of Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, they stayed away in record-breaking numbers.
Over its opening weekend, no more than a dozen people went to see Motherhood, a semi-autobiographical account of stressed-out Manhattan parenting written and directed by Katherine Dieckmann. The film made just £88 on the weekend of Friday 5 March. On its debut Sunday, box office takings were £9, meaning one person bought a ticket.
The disaster has now degenerated into a bitter confrontation between Metrodrome, responsible for marketing the film in the UK, and producer Jana Edelbaum, who blames the company for Motherhood's atrocious performance.
The film, thought to have cost $5m to make, earned just over £40,000 when it opened in the US last October, but Edelbaum had no idea quite how badly it had performed in the UK until contacted this week by the Guardian. "You're kidding?" she said. "We must have broken a new record for grosses."
Edelbaum is adamant that Metrodome must be to blame, and insisted that she would demand a full explanation. "Think how much crap succeeds at the cinema," she said. "Motherhood is not bad. It's a very decent movie. I've seen movies that are not half as good."
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