Earlier this summer, I "read" the audiobook of Kathryn Sockett's bestselling book, The Help, which opened in its feature film form starring Emma Stone last week. Having grown up in the 1960s, about a five hour drive from where Sockett's story takes place, I was captivated with the characters, and with the author's uncanny ability to capture the voices of the black maids whose lives were in marked contrast to those of their white employers. Like many who grew up in the South, their stories and personalities seemed familiar to me, and conjured up memories from childhood about the intersections of very different lives at the height of the civil rights movement in the U.S.
I haven't had time to see the movie yet--I hear it is almost three hours long (!)--but I was curious tonight to see what its popularity has been, what the critics and viewers are saying about it, and maybe find out how long it will be showing at local theaters since I'm pretty busy and booked solid for the next couple of weeks with work, family vacation, and building the new class...
Anyway, I discovered that The Help opened to $5 million in box office receipts its first day, according to NPR's All Things Considered report today.
Now on its sixth day at the theaters, the feature film is reported as having earned a total of $39,809,842 by Box Office Mojo.
The few reviews I scanned indicate a favorable reception: it's a film about relationships, targeted at female moviegoers.
From a marketing perspective, there was early outreach and a carefully orchestrated roll-out even before the film's wide release. Here's a good summary from Anthony Kaufman's "Speakeasy" column in the August 15 Wall Street Journal:
Disney’s distribution executive vice president David Hollis told Speakeasy that they moved the film’s release date to Wednesday because they had “a sense early on that we had something special, so we let the fans of the book and women’s date nights groups get to see it early, and get that same great grassroots thing going that the book had. And that’s exactly what happened.”
The film performed well in upscale venues, according to Hollis, but especially strong in urban markets and Southern states, with Memphis ranking the top-earning city, followed by Jackson, Miss., Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas. “The Help” will likely add an additional 150-200 theaters next weekend.
According to Hollis, there was a lot of outreach done to get African American and faith-based communities on board, with a word of mouth screening campaign initiated early on. “It lends itself to what made the book work so well,” said Hollis. “Influencers and leaders can go back to their constituencies, and then those small groups of people are exposed, and if it’s a good movie, it’s something they’re going to be recommending.”
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Starting in September, I will welcome two new Marketing classes of Bachelor of Arts in Management students at the University of Redlands. Well, they've been students for awhile, working alongside their classmates in their respective cohorts, but it will be my first time to meet them. I am looking forward to it: great text, lots of current issues to explore, and real-time applications and exercises to work on together. I will post from time to time, as ideas surface or conversations provoke further exploration!