Somebody at Relativity Media must feel really secure in their job. That’s the only reason they would look at the week between the Catching Fire/Frozen combo destroying Thanksgiving and the new Hobbit movie’s release and think, “Yep, this is when I want to put my small-budget thriller from an indie director onto 2,000 screens.” Sure, it’s got Christian Bale, but without the bat suit. Yes, this is a time of year when smaller, awards-type films roll out, but usually on a smaller scale to build word of mouth. And certainly not into the teeth of three box office behemoths..
But here’s Out of the Furnace as the sole wide release today. Even the title is awkward, if accurate to the film’s Rust Belt setting. It’s pedigree is just fine — it was directed and co-written by Scott Cooper, who directed Jeff Bridges to a Best Actor Oscar three years ago in Crazy Heart — and the reviews have been fairly good. But Cooper’s not exactly a household name — it was Bridges who got all the attention from Crazy Heart — and it just seems odd to see this getting released right now, in a time when every other studio has opted to stay the hell out of the way. You could argue it’s counter-programming, but you’d have to do a hell of a lot of shouting to be heard above all the coin falling into the pockets of Catching Fire and Frozen, and over the growing positive buzz over The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It had a very limited opening on Wednesday and had some strong per-screen numbers, but I’m not sure that’s going to translate to the jump to 2,000 screens. Now it’s likely Relativity believes in the film, wants to get it out there, and is fine with smaller grosses in exchange for a wider footprint. And it could very well work out for them; it’s not like 2,000 is all that huge compared to the 3,900 screens Smaug will hit next weekend. So maybe that guy is secure in his job because he knows what he’s doing and I just write a snarky blog.