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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 -

"Hi Mary,
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."

GERRY COSTIGAN
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."
BEN NOBLET
Double Bay, NSW 2028

"Dear Mary,
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....."

WENDY RAWADY
Bulleen, VIC 3105

"Hello Mary
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 it.

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!"
MARINA MAXWELL
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."
PATRICIA DOHERTY
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."
SUE LANG
Daw Park SA 5041

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"The film is not getting bums on seats because:
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"

MARSHALL HARRIS
Indooroopilly, QLD 4068

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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.

JOHN BRUMPTON
Ashburton, VIC 3147

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"I believe 'The Interview' hasn't done well because:
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."
NICHOLAS VASARIS

Edgecliff NSW 2027

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"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!"
SUSAN GHAEMI
Rose Bay NSW 2029

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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.
ROY DOTTER
Newmarket, QLD 4051

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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.
MICHAEL MCGENNAN
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

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Thank you for your comments

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"Dear Mary
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."
KATE GILLESPIE-JONES
Canterbury VIC 3126

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