— Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, 1950
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December 5, 2012
Killing Them Softly: What Went Wrong
— Posted by Kenny Miles
Several weeks ago, a good buddy of mine who recently moved out of state suddenly emailed me. While on a business trip in India, he had an opportunity to watch “Killing Them Softly” and wanted to share with me his thoughts. I immediately found this telling because we had lost touch since his move and a movie such as ‘Softly’ clearly elicited a response from this friend. He spoke positively about the movie and compared it to “Drive.” This immediately warned me that it would be a tough sell for American movie audiences and, unfortunately, that premonition was correct. Over the weekend “Killing Them Softly” crashed and burned at the box office grossing less then $7 million. To add insult to injury, ‘KTS’ was awarded the dreaded ‘F’ CinemaScore rating recently. Previous movies to receive the dishonor include “Solaris,” “Wolf Creek,” “Bug,” “The Box,” and this year’s “The Devil Inside.” This is bad news for the T.W.C. feature that changed its release date a few times before landing on a less then desirable weekend after Thanksgiving. I have a few theories as to why this didn’t do very well at the box office and failed to connect with the audience:
Dialogue Heavy/Slow Pace
Really!?! The Holidays!?!
“Killing Them Softly” should have been a limited release movie meant for art house audiences who would have been more prepared for the style and tone. Putting Brad Pitt front and center to sell a hard sell was a very risky move that backfired. Add to it the positive critical reception from the reviews which drew some people thinking they too would respond positively! Unfortunately, mainstream audiences aren’t always as accessible as we’d like to think. Though a ‘F’ grade is harsh, this shouldn’t be as shocking as reported once anyone starts asking questions.
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Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. When he isn’t writing, Kenny channels his passion for interacting with moviegoers (something most movie pundits lack) as a pollster for the market research company CinemaScore and working as floor staff/special events coordinator in the film community. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.
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