THE INTERVIEW: READERS REPLY
In Bums On SeatS, Mary Sum asked readers to speculate on why The Interview had such a
relatively short lived cinema season, after attracting so much critical praise and even
awards. Some of you blame lack of marketing, others say itís too much marketing -
still others blame lack of taste among Australian audiences. And some just canít
figure it: here is a selection of your responses -
I can't believe the news about The Interview. The big problem for me was I had no idea it
was on general release. As it was screening at the Melbourne Film Festival and the AFI
Award screenings, I assumed that the general release would come later, after AFI award
nominees are announced. I only noticed advertising for the Festival and† Award
screenings. Possibly a case of too much happening with the film causing confusion with the
general public. A more simple distribution would make the decision clear for the average
movie-goer. My advice is they should try and get it re-released after the AFI award
nominations are announced, which I think should be soon. Also, Hugo's† recent award
will give it some legs as well.
I am very depressed, this is one of THE films I wanted to see."
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
"I did actually see this film and thoroughly enjoyed it - the best
Australian movie I have seen for ages. I would suggest that the lack of marketing may have
something to do with it (I only heard about it from a friend, and never saw an ad, poster
or any kind of advertising for it). Also, the majority of Australians have very basic
needs from a film Ė there generally needs to be a good guy and a bad guy. This film
doesn't have a single likable character, which probably confuses the average punter too
much. I found it fascinating trying to work out who I liked, and who I believed, but this
is most likely to much work for the average movie goer."
Double Bay, NSW 2028
I went to see The Interview not knowing a thing about it having successfully beaten the
hype to the draw. I found it gripping, well-acted, very neat script with unexpected turns
and quirky sidebars and the acting was 100% across the board excellent. So why the flop?
Point number one is that the promos probably would have turned me off as
I see enough of Tony Martin doing a cop on Wildside, and I was also glued to Phoenix,
Janus, Blue Murder etc. etc. Of course, he was quite stunning in The Interview, but the
promos didn't suggest it, and the reviews gave away too much. Point number two -
Australians in general have been quick to jump on the world bandwagon of the "dumbing
down campaign". We'd probably prefer grotesque films like Muriel's Wedding. Plus, it
suits our lazy nature to join this new dumb movement which, thanks to TV and lazy
presenters, has packed more power than the philosophers and their influence on the 18th
Century revolutionaries..... The script of The Interview may have been a tad too clever
for the normal punter (thank heavens...) The Interview is a damn fine film. Good set, good
lighting, well-shot etc. etc..But I would have made a better trailer, and I probably would
have left Tony Martin (top bloke) out of it and kept him a mystery.
Thanks for allowing virtual soapbox....."
Bulleen, VIC 3105
The Interview ... a film which I thought brilliant, but sadly knew right away hadnít
any box office appeal. Apart from the obvious reasons Ė our population too small,
ticket prices too high, not enough advertising Ė I also asked my 18 year old if she
would have gone to see it with a group of friends. No way, it would be one of those boring
Oz things. Yes, she might have watched it at home on TV. When you go out you want fast
action or comedy. You donít want to have to THINK! Iím not sure of the age of
the average movie-going audience member in this country, but I suspect itís less than
25. Youíre never going to sell a film like The Interview if thatís the case.
Letís face it, youíre dealing here with the ADD generation! Two men facing each
other over a desk for a couple of hours is just too demanding.
Also, big bucks marketing and, unfortunately, big names matter too. My
daughter said she only went to see Sliding Doors because of Gwenyth Paltrow ... if it had
starred say Toni Colette, it wouldnít have made anywhere near what it did. The
ultra-cool overseas glamour image does matter and few local stars have it. If Interview
had Guy Pearce and Mel Gibson maybe then.
The Interview may have worked as a well-marketed TV production, and also
may do quite well ultimately on video when those who donít go out to the movies will
get to see it.
Having personally seen most of the films in the AFI list this year, many
of which are excellent in every sense, there is still that underlying quirky sameness that
stamps most Australian films. Often several characters with a history of mental illness,
plus a lot of brooding time driving badly on dirt tracks in the middle of nowhere. Even
The Interview had to have the compulsory car shots.
Apart from Shine (the grand-daddy mental illness of course!), the big Oz
successes have been whimsical, comedic tales. Weíve got the talent, the skills, and
maybe itís time someone in this country had the courage to tackle more films
targetted at the average audience age, and we donít waste time trying to sell any
more Oz dramas in local cinemas - just put them straight to TV or video and be done with
Dark City showed we have the potential for innovative SFX action films,
even if it wasnít marketed as successfully as it could have been and the subject
matter was lost on a lot of cinema-goers simply because THINKING is "out" when
you go out!"
Tuggeranong, ACT 2901
"Well, I haven't seen it and I should have because you were very
generous and gave the Qld branch of AFTRS free tickets! Hugo Weaving is just about my
favourite actor. For me it will be a case of ĎThe Interview won't be on the screens
long enoughí because so much other product is being pushed through. Everyone I have
spoken to has either raved about the performances, saying it was hard to believe they were
Australian they were so good (!!) or said that because one of the characters was playing a
typecast role that he usually plays on tv it was ho-hum or predictable. I think perhaps
when we go to the cinema we go to escape.
So, because Hollywood stars lead such outrageously unreal lives we can
believe in the fantasy. We all know Hugo. He's the local boy made good. Let the
international audiences enjoy the escape. I don't think the lack of attendance is meant to
be a slight on Hugo or the quality of the film. I think itís a very complex question
- as filmmaking always is! Hitting the right nerve at the right time, having the right
release, what else is on at the time etc. I applaud Hugo and all the production team. I
don't think their success should be judged just by the domestic market."
ALEX DAW, AFTRS Qld Mgr
Chapell Hill QLD 4069
"I didn't go to see the Interview because I was put off by the
trailer which showed a man being bullied in frightening circumstances for no apparent
reason. I avoid films with violence usually though I am prepared to make exceptions (In
the Winter Dark). I am in my early 60s and go to the movies 2 or 3 times a month with
friends or occasionally with my husband.
I usually see Australian movies if they appeal to me - recent ones I
liked were Winter Dark, Road to Nhill (yes!) The Well, Serenade. I have also enjoyed
Sliding Doors, The Opposite of Sex. I disliked the trailer of Woop Woop but consented to
see it with my husband after reading your reviews of it. We both disliked it finding it
unfunny. The director had an unpleasant unkind attitude to his characters I found
distasteful. I didn't mind Priscilla though I was rather embarrassed by it as I had taken
my 85 year old mother to see it! I won't bother with Mr Elliott's films again and I
thought you rather slipped up in your general enthusiasm for the it (Woop Woop).
I tell you this to make sense of my opinion of The Interview. The movies
I will probably go to see next are Les Miserables, The Park ( I loved Rats in the Ranks)
and perhaps Last Days of Disco and Amy. Too many Australian films came on at once
recently. I do not have the stamina or enthusiasm to go as often as required to see them
all when their runs are short. I enjoy your website and lookforward to the e mail I get on
Thursdays. Good luck."
Earlwood, NSW 2208
"What a shame that Aust. audience appreciation of The Interview
seems to be so greatly lacking. I heard precious little on the films release so maybe it
just didn't have the publicity. If I've missed it on the big screen, I fully intend to get
it on video as I love Australian film, especially with such fine actors. And I anticipate
a good ozzie script."
Daw Park SA 5041
Email this article
"The film is not getting bums on seats
1. It isn't "funny"
2. It isn't romantic
3. It hasn't any car chases
4. It has no steamy sex scenes
5. It is a quality film"
Indooroopilly, QLD 4068
1. Too many Australian features released at
the one time.
2. The film is too much like Wildside.
3. Hugo Weaving is not exciting enough. The role he played is near idiot proof. A more
exciting actor could have eaten that role up.
4. Not enough of a publicity budget. Who was their targeted audience.
5. The film is 20 minutes too long. It's a great TV movie.
Ashburton, VIC 3147
"I believe 'The Interview' hasn't done
1. People can see something similar on tv regularly, eg: law and order.
2. Two people having a chat isn't what your
average cinema patron perceives to be great entertainment. (It really is a terrible name
for a movie).
"If God did not exist, it would be
necessary to invent him."- Voltaire, 1770."
Edgecliff NSW 2027
"Why the Aussies didn't warm their
bums up on the seats? Coz perhaps The Interview looks very much like any other well made
Australian TV production and Aussies are used to them, hence didn't go! Or may be coz it
is a claustrophobic film or may be coz the ending is not very precise and Aussies have
become used to the American rubbish (that leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination) Or
may be coz the Aussies don't know that The Interview has become an international success!!
I just don't know I guess!"
Rose Bay NSW 2029
Never heard of it???? I'm an average sort
of person, go to the movies about once a week to once a fortnight and occasionally look up
a review, but I have never heard of The Interview.
Newmarket, QLD 4051
This film never gives us any reason to care
about any of the characters. Short and sweet, but that to me is what gets an audience in,
and gets them telling other people the film they've just seen is a 'yugottago' picture.
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Thank you for your comments
Further to my email of 24/9/98, I just thought I'd let you know that yes, I did finally
get to see The Interview before it disappeared from Melbourne's cinemas. I saw it at a
12.35pm session today at the Cinema Nova which was actually quite well attended,
indicating residual demand, this being the only time at which the film is being screened.
The film itself was excellent, deserving of
a wider audience. It was involving, the drama convincing and the acting quite outstanding,
particularly by Hugo Weaving and Tony Martin. This is a high quality production.
I can only conclude that the subject matter
has been used to paint a bleak portrayal of the film, and that coupled with a few negative
reviews has not helped it gain the BOSS it warrants. Low budget films are so much more
vulnerable to the individual perceptions of critics."
Canterbury VIC 3126