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The Breadwinner (1 Viewer)

Jake Lipson

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Without Gkids, films like these probably wouldn't come to the U.S. at all, so while it would be nice to see them go wider, I have nothing but praise for how they have handled their past releases and look forward to more from them for many year to come.

I also sort of wonder how big a wide release of something like this would be anyway. While I certainly believe in the quality of these types of films, whether a wide audience in America would accept them is an open question.

We get this one on December 1 here, and I can't wait to see it.
 

Darby67

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I'm really looking forward to seeing this one in the theater and then purchasing the home video release. Thank goodness for GKIDS for distributing truly fantastic animated films. I own several titles released by them including the The Secret of Kells, The Prophet, Song of the Sea, Miss Hokusai, Ocean Waves, From Up on Poppy Hill, Only Yesterday, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and When Marnie Was There.
 

Edwin-S

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Your comment about acceptance by a wide audience goes right back to why I think that Disney is remaking all of their animated films as "live action". Thanks to stunted "adults" in both America and Canada, I'm unable to see unusual and unique animated films, that aren't family comedies, on the large screen because they are unable to get wide enough distribution to get to the area where I live. If I want to see a non-Disney, non-Dreamworks or Non-Illumination animated film in a theatre, I have to travel 1200 miles to a larger centre to see them, like I did in order to see "Your Name". Unfortunately, I can't do that for every non-brand name animated film that I have an interest in seeing.
 

Edwin-S

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Sean, have you seen Gkids blu-ray release of "The Phantom Boy"? I thought it was a well done film. A marked improvement over "A Cat in Paris" which was done by the same team.

I wish Gkids would get the license for "A Long Way North". It is a French animated film. I saw the trailer for it and would really like to see it. It made it to my neck-of-the-woods, but I missed it because they had one matinee showing of it and did zero advertising. I only found out about it in hindsight, because I randomly dropped in to the theatre website to check on another movie. Man, I was damned annoyed to find out that I had missed a chance to see it.
 

Darby67

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Edwin:

I have not seen The Phantom Boy or A Long Way North but will definitely check both out. Thanks for the recommendations!
 

Jake Lipson

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Edwin, I should have been more clear. I don't think that audiences would refuse to accept these films in wide release simply because they are animated. I think that they might be a tough sell in wide release because they are unknown quantities with challenging themes and ideas.

This weekend, I went to the theater to see Wonderstruck, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Murder on the Orient Express. All three were playing in different auditoriums of the same 20-screen Cinemark megaplex. All three are live-action films, not animated. The first two, which are small, experimental indie films, had between 10 and 20 people each and several empty rows.

Murder on the Orient Express, which is of course a major studio movie remaking a famous property with an all-star cast and director, was almost all full for the stadium seating, and the only empty seats were near the very front of the auditorium against the screen. And Murder is on three screens, presumably drawing similar crowds in all of them, while Wonderstruck and Sacred Deer have one screen each and probably aren't grossing in a 4-show day the amount of money that one auditorium of Murder grosses in a single showtime.

The reason for this has nothing to do with animation or live-action since all three are in the same medium. It has everything to do with the fact that Murder on the Orient Express (and The Lion King and Aladdin) are well-known, well-liked, famous titles which audiences are already invested in when they arrive in the theater.

Wonderstruck is based on a book, too, but not nearly as famous, and Todd Haynes' filming of it is certainly unconventional for those raised on big-ticket blockbusters. And The Killing of a Sacred Deer is not based on anything, but equally challenging in terms of its style and even moreso its content.

If The Breadwinner were to suddenly have a wide break into thousands of screens, it would likely behave more like Wonderstruck and Sacred Deer than Orient Express, because of the unique nature of its content and storytelling. Audiences have demonstrated a widespread acceptance of animation as a form; as I noted in our ongoing discussion over in the Aladdin thread, four of the top ten films last year on a domestic basis were animated. What they are more reluctant to accept are new and unconventional stories (and I'm not saying that audiences will never accept those, but that they are a harder sell because audiences know less about the going in.)
 
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Edwin-S

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Well, those are some good points, especially regarding the smaller indie films. I do have to admit that I probably wouldn't have much interest in seeing "Sacred Deer" as it is directed by the same fellow that did "The Lobster". I really didn't enjoy that film much; although, it did stick with me for a few days due to some of its odd character moments.
 

Jake Lipson

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Incidentally, I chose to see Sacred Deer for the same reason you avoided it, because of The Lobster connection (I love that film.) Different tastes. But I was just using those particular films as examples to demonstrate my larger point that films like The Breadwinner are more difficult draws for the mainstream audience due more to their content than their medium. (I'm talking here more about general crowds rather than movie buffs like us who would hang out on boards like this, of course.)

To use one of your examples, we had Your Name at our arthouse this past April and it did quite well. It was sold out the first time I saw it on its opening weekend and stuck around for about a month after that (despite our arthouse only having thee screens.) Had Your Name been playing instead at the big Cinemark, it probably would have stayed for a week and then been kicked out in favor of something else, because what constitutes a hit for the arthouse is very different from what constitutes a hit for the big chains that are in the business of showing mass-appeal blockbusters

I feel like the same would be true for The Breadwinner. Which doesn't mean at all that I am rooting against the film or that I wouldn't love to see demand justify a wide release of it, because I would. But I also understand why Gkids has been placing these films primarily in arthouses and smaller theaters, where the types of audiences who go there will be more receptive to discovering their unique charms.

Gkids has been doing re-releases of the Studio Gibli catalog this year with Fathom Events, and those go into about 600 theaters each, including my big Cinemark. However, those are priced as events ($13.91 for one ticket here, while the normal matinee ticket price is $7.60) and generally only screen two or three times, which forces everyone who wants to see it to all go at the same time, as opposed to having a weeklong run when you've got lots of options. And the pricing structure likely means that they are probably playing more to existing fans than to curious newbies. (Also, Gibli being Gibli has a somewhat bigger name recognition factor than the studio that made The Breadwinner, although still isn't huge for general audiences either.)

Interestingly, Gkids is partnering with Fathom on a one-night-only "premiere event" for Mary and the Witch's Flower in January, which will go to our big Cinemark a day before they do a general release for the film which will presumably play art houses. I have to think this is a test case to see what kind of demand they can generate for something like that, and I'm planning to go to it, and I will be very curious to see how the attendance for it comperes to one of the Gibli reissues.

I also wanted to add that I understand your frustration in having to drive a long way to get to a theater that will play these types of films. For film fans like us, it's always a pain to wait for a film to expand out to your market, or in some cases like yours, have them not come near you at all. I'm lucky to have an arthouse here that will regularly screen these types of films when possible.. However, foreign animation in the U.S. is unfortunately playing to a niche market, and movie theaters are of course running a business. The big chains want to play things they think will draw large audiences. If Your Name had played closer by you, it would have been easier for you to get to it, but do you think it would have attracted a large enough audience besides just you to justify your theater booking it?

I love Your Name -- I think it's one of the best films I've seen this year and said as much in a long post about it in last week's Roundup thread -- but I can't get any of my friends to watch it, even though most of those same friends will line up when Pixar or Illumination come out with something new. As much as I love it and think that it deserves to have reached a wider audience, its appeal is more limited because of its foreign origins. (I'm not saying this is a good thing, and my friends who haven't watched are missing out on one hell of a film; I'm just observing the circumstances.)
 
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Edwin-S

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Yeah, I think the only thing I would like about living in a larger city is the access to a better quality theatre and a theatre that can bring in less mainstream fare, due to a larger population catchment.
 

Darby67

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Incidentally, I chose to see Sacred Deer for the same reason you avoided it, because of The Lobster connection (I love that film.) Different tastes. But I was just using those particular films as examples to demonstrate my larger point that films like The Breadwinner are more difficult draws for the mainstream audience due more to their content than their medium. (I'm talking here more about general crowds rather than movie buffs like us who would hang out on boards like this, of course.)

To use one of your examples, we had Your Name at our arthouse this past April and it did quite well. It was sold out the first time I saw it on its opening weekend and stuck around for about a month after that (despite our arthouse only having thee screens.) Had Your Name been playing instead at the big Cinemark, it probably would have stayed for a week and then been kicked out in favor of something else, because what constitutes a hit for the arthouse is very different from what constitutes a hit for the big chains that are in the business of showing mass-appeal blockbusters

I feel like the same would be true for The Breadwinner. Which doesn't mean at all that I am rooting against the film or that I wouldn't love to see demand justify a wide release of it, because I would. But I also understand why Gkids has been placing these films primarily in arthouses and smaller theaters, where the types of audiences who go there will be more receptive to discovering their unique charms.

Gkids has been doing re-releases of the Studio Gibli catalog this year with Fathom Events, and those go into about 600 theaters each, including my big Cinemark. However, those are priced as events ($13.91 for one ticket here, while the normal matinee ticket price is $7.60) and generally only screen two or three times, which forces everyone who wants to see it to all go at the same time, as opposed to having a weeklong run when you've got lots of options. And the pricing structure likely means that they are probably playing more to existing fans than to curious newbies. (Also, Gibli being Gibli has a somewhat bigger name recognition factor than the studio that made The Breadwinner, although still isn't huge for general audiences either.)

Interestingly, Gkids is partnering with Fathom on a one-night-only "premiere event" for Mary and the Witch's Flower in January, which will go to our big Cinemark a day before they do a general release for the film which will presumably play art houses. I have to think this is a test case to see what kind of demand they can generate for something like that, and I'm planning to go to it, and I will be very curious to see how the attendance for it comperes to one of the Gibli reissues.

I also wanted to add that I understand your frustration in having to drive a long way to get to a theater that will play these types of films. For film fans like us, it's always a pain to wait for a film to expand out to your market, or in some cases like yours, have them not come near you at all. I'm lucky to have an arthouse here that will regularly screen these types of films when possible.. However, foreign animation in the U.S. is unfortunately playing to a niche market, and movie theaters are of course running a business. The big chains want to play things they think will draw large audiences. If Your Name had played closer by you, it would have been easier for you to get to it, but do you think it would have attracted a large enough audience besides just you to justify your theater booking it?

I love Your Name -- I think it's one of the best films I've seen this year and said as much in a long post about it in last week's Roundup thread -- but I can't get any of my friends to watch it, even though most of those same friends will line up when Pixar or Illumination come out with something new. As much as I love it and think that it deserves to have reached a wider audience, its appeal is more limited because of its foreign origins. (I'm not saying this is a good thing, and my friends who haven't watched are missing out on one hell of a film; I'm just observing the circumstances.)

Jake:

Chicago has a wonderful arthouse in The Music Box Theater (https://www.musicboxtheatre.com/) where the family and I have caught films like Kedi and The Red Turtle. I'd imagine that would be at least one of the places that would screen Mary and the Witch's Flower (another animated film I am eagerly awaiting to see in the theater and purchase on home video) when it is released.

Here is trailer #3 for Mary and the Witch's Flower:

And here is the trailer for In This Corner of the World:
 
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Jake Lipson

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I'm bumping this thread because The Breadwinner opened here tonight and I just got back from seeing it a while go.

This film is extraordinary. It is, on merit, almost certainly the Best Animated Feature winner for 2017, and almost no live-action film compares either. I'm not saying that I believe it will actually win (hello, Coco), but, it should. If I were in charge of the nomination process, I would have no hesitation whatsoever in placing this in the Best Picture field, as well.

I really want to discuss the film and hear what the rest of you think of it, but will hold off saying anything more specific now until more of you have seen it. Going in, I expected to like it, but I was completely bowled over.

Now, some entirely non-plot-related audience notes. No spoilers here, so you all can read on.

Here, these kinds of indie animated titles don't typically last very long unfortunately, even at the art house. Your Name was here for about a month or so, but that was an exception that proves the rule. Usually they last about a week. Tonight it was almost full in the big 375-seat main theater...BUT that was because every month they have a screening of a new film for free for members who pay $75/year to support the theater, and this was it for December. The program director had to defend it in his opening remarks, about how "we don't normally choose an animated film for our member screenings, but it's just a good film, period." It sort of makes me sad that he felt the need to make that defense, but it was much fuller than I've usually seen for indie animation. I strongly suspect that a lot of people probably came to it because it was free and would not have come otherwise. It's also possible that some of them might not have realized it was animated until they got there.

Of course, I've been anticipating its opening for a long time and would have paid for it if necessary, but I am a member and was happy to use the comp.

At the end of it when the credits rolled, I started clapping and then a few people joined in, but not as loudly or as many people as usual at packed screenings. I'm not sure if anyone would have clapped if I hadn't started it, and I was happy to start it because the film is nothing short of extraordinary, but it's kind of sad that I had to start it instead of everyone bursting out into simultaneous thunderous applause, which the film deserves.
 

Jake Lipson

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My theater just confirmed what I feared would be the case: The Breadwinner is ending its run Thursday, having played just six days here.

The full crowd I saw it with on Friday night was surely a result of it being free for members, rather than people actually turning out specifically to see The Breadwinner. I have no idea how it drew for the rest of the weekend, since I wasn't able to go again. But I know that it spent the rest of the weekend in the smaller 96-seat auditorium, rather than the main one (376 seats and a larger screen) where the member screenings are held.

Maybe it has done better in other cities. But if that is to be the case elsewhere too, you might want to hurry. I know it can be hard to find time during the workweek for a film, but if that is at all possible for you, this one is worth the effort.

I look forward to seeing it again whenever the Blu-ray comes, which I will purchase, and am sad it didn't draw enough to justify a longer run here. A lot of people who could have seen it here and didn't are missing out on something truly spectacular by choosing not to go to it. Oh well. At least we got it at all.
 
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Edwin-S

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You know, I can sort of understand "average" movie goers being obtuse and moribund in their attitudes toward the possibility of animation being able to tell stories beyond the typical family friendly comedy ghetto that North American animation is trapped in. However, it becomes a lot less understandable when film "afficionados" hold the same prejudice that animated film making isn't a real film medium *worth watching*.
 

Jake Lipson

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it becomes a lot less understandable when film "afficionados" hold the same prejudice that animated film making isn't a real film medium *worth watching*.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

We have one free screening per month. Sometimes those films close after a week; sometimes they don't. You pay $75/year to support the theater in order to get the free screening privilege, so it's not exactly "free," but free in that you don't pay for the ticket price on the monthly film.

It was announced to play here on December 1 before they selected it as the free screening for December. I would have seen it either way, of course, and it just so happened that it was the free one. But I'm sure the studio still has to get paid for the free screenings, so maybe the theater just eats the cost to drive the memberships; I really don't know.

Incidentally, last year there was a brief time when the leadership of this theater asked me to join their board, so I filled out the application and sent it in. But then no one ever followed up on that with me since January, so nothing came of it. Therefore, I have no idea how they make decisions like that, and their silence has made very clear that they are not really interested in my perspective.

Unfortunately, based on the fact that the majority of foreign animations only run briefly here, my assumption is that it probably would have run only a week whether it was the free screening, or not. I suspect that the people who really wanted to see it would have done so throughout the weekend regardless, and still only been good enough to get it a one-week run. If that is the case, at least their selection of it as the free one for this month drew in people who wouldn't have come otherwise, which is a good thing.
 
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bujaki

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4 people at my screening today @ 2:30. Absolutely ravishing film. Tragic circumstances but life affirming qualities. Great animation doesn't begin and end with Pixar. BTW, I thoroughly enjoyed Coco as well.
 

Jake Lipson

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Jose, since you've seen it:

What did you think about the relationship between Parvana and her friend from school with whom she went to work? Obviously they couldn't really do anything about it given the circumstances, but especially in the scene when they said goodbye to each other, I was wondering if possibly there were some romantic feelings there that they weren't able to address given the time/place/societal rules.
 

bujaki

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Jake, I don't think so. They are way too young to harbor such feelings. Her friend, though, is being abused by her father (maybe sexually, but definitely physically).
 

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