“Fire” exit polling

Focus Features asked for the usual exit-polling to be done regarding last weekend’s opening of Phillip Noyce‘s Catch a Fire. Viewers exiting L.A.’s AMC Palisades Center and Pacific Sherman Oaks Galleria, Baltimore’s Muvico Egyptian 24, Houston’s AMC Studio 30, Seattle’s AMC Pacific Place and Kansas City’s AMC Studio 30 were polled and the usual ironies prevailed.
Everyone who saw it liked it quite a lot, but not enough people saw it overall. So who or what do we blame? The material, obviously — nobody wanted to see an ’80s apartheid movie. I half-felt that way when I went to see it the first time, but I came away enthused. Everyone’s been having the same reaction, it seems. You just have to see it.
Catch a Fire “died” last weekend — a gross of $2,023,397 for the three-day weekend on 1,306 screens, for a per screen average of $1550 — and yet (a) the film drew a well-above-average response with rating/recommend scores spread somewhat evenly across all four quadrants, (b) 56% of the audience described the film as “better than expected”, (c) the performances were rated “excellent” by 62% of the audience and “very good” by an additional 30%, (d) the film “played better to non-Caucasians (who made up 60% of the audience) vs. Caucasians although scores among the latter were still above average, and (e) the film played above-average in all six markets.
In terms of demographics, the audience was ethnically mixed and split fairly evenly between male/female and over/under 35. Specifically: 52% were 35-plus, 53% were female, 44% were African American (highest in Baltimore at 69%), 40% were Caucasian (the whitest audience being in Kansas City at 65%), 7% were Hispanic, 5% were Asian, and 53% had college degrees. What’s with the fucking Hispanics and Asians?
The primary sources of the audience’s information were TV spots (38%…overweight guys channel-surfing while sitting in Lazy Boys), the trailer (22%), word-of-mouth (15%), reviews (14%), newspaper/magazine ads (7%), radio spots (5%), and the internet (3%). This shows you how hip and plugged the over-35s are with the internet….not!

  • Craig Kennedy

    Opening weekend box office is an absurd measure of the success of a film especially when you’re talking about a small movie like this.
    I didn’t see the movie this weekend because I saw Flags of Our Fathers and Babel instead and didn’t have time for anything else. I expect to see it this week or next weekend along with Volver.
    Does my 10 bucks next weekend really count for less than if I’d seen it opening weekend? Apparently so. That’s retarded.
    I understand a bad tent-pole type flick needs to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible before word of mouth can kill it and it isn’t able to make back it’s massively inflated budget, but why is a film like Catch a Fire even judged by the same criteria?

  • D.Z.

    It didn’t do well, because Americans don’t like feeling guilty about supporting a racist party.

  • jeffmcm

    D.Z, that doesn’t make sense. The American government was never a strong ally to South Africa during the Apartheid years and trailers etc. show zero indictment of American influence. Your theory is cuckoo.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com/ Josh Massey

    Shhh… Please don’t introduce reality to D.Z. at this late juncture. The poor guy’s heart will give out.

  • D.Z.

    jeff: What are you talking about? Reagan and Cheney refused to speak out against apartheid, and even continued doing business with S. Africa until the end of their terms.

  • cjKennedy

    Opening weekend box office is an absurd measure of the success of a film especially when you’re talking about a small movie like this.

    I didn’t see the movie this weekend because I saw Flags of Our Fathers and Babel instead and didn’t have time for anything else. I expect to see it this week or next weekend along with Volver.

    Does my 10 bucks next weekend really count for less than if I’d seen it opening weekend? Apparently so. That’s retarded.

    I understand a bad tent-pole type flick needs to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible before word of mouth can kill it and it isn’t able to make back it’s massively inflated budget, but why is a film like Catch a Fire even judged by the same criteria?

  • jeffmcm

    That’s not the same as a strong alliance. Shameful, yes, but hardly something that would cause American audiences to decide to avoid a movie. Get real.

  • p.Vice

    Maybe the “From the director of Clear and Present Danger” tag on the advertising didn’t exactly bring it home when selling an ostensibly serious movie to the upscale crowd.
    Aparthied + Struggle For Freedom + Harrison Ford Action Movies = Tired Idea – Generic Direction
    That’s an equation that don’t add up to much.

  • Hallick

    “…and the internet (3%). This shows you how hip and plugged the over-35s are with the internet….not!”
    If the audience was split fairly evenly between over and under 35, the stat cuts both ways.
    Nevertheless, Catch a Fire isn’t the kind of movie the net’s going to bandy all over the grapevine anyway.
    And if you’re truly bemoaning the box office performance of the film, then how about a little more gratitude to your “overweight guys channel surfing while sitting in Lazy Boys” (What? They should have been surfing the net in ergonomic office chairs and reading Hollywood Elsewhere in the recovery time between porn hits?).

  • Patrick

    Look, nobody wanted to see the damn movie! That’s
    why it failed! Why did they not want to see it?
    Who knows!

  • Dave Polands Gut

    You got it wrong.
    No one wants to see a Tim Robbins movie.