Monday, November 12, 2007

Popularity of Middle East Themed Movies in 2007

This weekend Lions for Lambs was released with a dismal first weekend box office (estimated just over 6 million). This poor box office came after a heavy advertising campaign including many network television commercials.

Early this year I kept on trying to write up a post about all the middle-eastern/Iraq/Afghanistan based movies that were coming out this year. And yet, I had a really hard time ever completing the post, because part of me didn't know if these movies would really be a success. Would it really be the year of the middle eastern film, I asked myself.

So far we've seen the movies A Mighty Heart, In The Valley of Elah, and Rendition all released with minimal box office pickup. Even the action thriller The Kingdom in it's domestic run didn't cross the $50 million mark.

Yet, there are still more middle eastern films around the bend. The Sundance hit Grace is Gone starting John Cusack comes out December 7th, and I can't see it having much of a theater run.

The popular novel turned film The Kite Runner comes out on December 14th. Novels turn film have their own unique hurdles, but I hope this film is a worthy adaptation.

Charlie Wilson's War releases on Christmas day, and with it's star power it has a decent chance, but it's so hard to tell if this film is actually going to be good.

Other similarly themed films thought to come out this year have been pushed back to 2008, or are still in production including Stop Loss, War Inc., The Road Back, and the untitled Kip Williams project.

Perhaps it's a year that could have been the year of the Middle East movie, but perhaps the American movie going public wasn't ready or interested in that, perhaps it's too early to be reflective when a war is still going on, when soldiers are still overseas.

The difference we might see with Charlie Wilson's War and The Kite Runner is that their stories are based on past events, with much of their setting happening in previous decades.


RJ said...

"ut perhaps the American movie going public wasn't ready or interested in that"

I don't blame the US public at all. Most of these films weren't even very good. Perhaps these movies would have done better had they been better.

And A Mighty Heart was a victim of an awful release date.

Jamie Dawn said...

I am with you and SO HOPING that The Kite Runner movie is at least nearly as good as that wonderful book.
The other war-related movies have no appeal to me whatsoever. I don't want to pay $8 to hear Bush bashing and America bashing which is what I think most of the war-related movies will be.
The one starring Angelina Jolie about Danny Pearl and his wife was probably a real heart wrencher.
I may see a couple of Middle East themed movies when they come to HBO or Showtime if they seem

kat said...

I'm looking forward to the "Kite Runner" because I absolutely loved the book. And I've already seen "Grace is Gone" and though the wife has died in Iraq, I hesitate to call it a "Mid-East themed" movie. The fact that the war was in Iraq is barely relevant to the family drama and dynamics at home that the film depicts. There really are no broad polemics in the film at all, the war in Iraq merely an undercurrent in the subtext.

RC said...

@ rural're absolutly right...part of the issue might simply be the quality of the films themselves.

@ jamie dawn...i too hope the kite runner is good and you're right...if the film is overly message oriented (as Lions for Lambs or Rendtion seem to be) then it certainly takes away the "magic of the cinema."

@ kat, i have not seen grace is gone, but it seems to me that the stories about the war from a demosit angle and the effect @ home is a big part of this "theme" and group of movies (Stop Loss, In the Valley of Elah, etc.) These films demonstrate how the war effects not just soldiers, but the families of soldiers at home. That was my thought process on including these films.

Ando said...

Rural Juror and Jamie Dawn beat me to punch. I think both the fact that none of the Middle East movies released so far have been any good cinematically, and tend to be soapboxish has really hurt them. I find it interesting that a lot of these movies, and Brian de Palma's Redacted which I don't think has been released yet, paint the military in a bad light and I think that is a big part of their box office failure. Hollywood can crap on our soldiers all they want, but your average American I think holds at least the individual soldier, if not the military as a whole, in a position of esteem.

I remember seeing Charlie Wilson's War (the book) in the store a few years ago and being intrigued. I saw the trailer for the film yesterday and am even more intrigued. I'm looking forward to the movie and will probably read the book before it comes out.

Um Naief said...

a friend of mine saw Lions for Lambs and said it wasn't that great... not worth movie price.

have you thought about reviewing anything like documentaries/series and such. we've recently been watching Planet Earth and it's the most amazing thing i've seen in a long, long time!! i recently posted about it... have you seen it?

Anonymous said...

there is nothing so great about the flavor of a movie when it is purely american! and that remains a fact! thats the reason why always any good movie has something more to it than being purely american! ;-)