The Daily Wire (DW) is reporting on the sudden drop off of theaters willing to show the movie which depicts the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist operating out of a sub-standard clinic in West Philadelphia who was ultimately convicted of murdering three infants born alive after late term abortions and the death of woman after a botched abortion.
The film, starring Dean Cain and Nick Searcy, opened on just 668 screens on the weekend of October 12-14 and ranked in the Top 10 grossing films with a revenue of over $1.2 million.
“Despite the solid performance for an independent film of this sort, nearly 200 theaters have inexplicably dropped the film, including those in major cities where it was performing the strongest,” the DW reports. “Coming into its second week, Gosnell has dropped from 668 theaters to 480 theaters — a full 188 theater drop, 15 of which were top-performing multiplexes.”
John Sullivan, the film’s marketing director who also served as a producer, said the sudden drop off can’t be written off as coincidence of “business as usual.”
"I can tell you from my experience in 15 years of releasing movies independently, we’re in uncharted territories," Sullivan told DW. "It is an impacted fall, no doubt about it, but the fact that we’ve been dropped from theaters where the movie is the number 6 or number 9 movie is just something you don’t see."
He added: "It’s hard not to believe it isn’t about the content of the movie," he added.
While it’s true that some smaller theaters have dropped Gosnell to make way for Halloween, which is projected to be a blockbuster, this doesn’t explain why multiplexes housing 20 or more screens would drop the film.
“I do recognize it’s a crowded marketplace — Halloween is going to be a huge opening," Sullivan continued. "But it’s very odd to me that you’re within the top 10 and you’re getting dropped out of a movie house."
At the same time, filmmakers have been receiving varying reports of theaters actively preventing customers from buying tickets by not advertising the film or declaring it “sold out” before capacity is reached. While some of this could be due to human error, there are too many of these instances to be ignored.
"One report out of Nashville had people being told the movie sold out simply because they didn’t have the staff to cover the theater, and they chose our theater to do that to. Why? Too many things have stacked up and it just doesn’t smell right," he said.
Sullivan, who directed the top-grossing 2016: Obama's America, a film that faced quite a bit of resistance, the box office numbers were too strong for theater chains to simply toss it aside.
In a public statement on Facebook, the film’s producer, Phelim McAleer said he had received “worrying reports from across the country” about customers who were unable to buy tickets.
"People are saying that they are going to the box office and being told that the film isn't being shown when it is," McAleer said. "We are being told that people are also not able to buy tickets online. Some theaters are trying to cut this down, trying to exclude people from going to see it."
One man commented: “My wife and I bought tickets online beforehand at an AMC theater, only to have them cancelled and refunded. My wife called and asked why, but the person she talked only would say that the theater decided not to show it. So, we drove an extra 20 minutes to see it at a Cinemark theater where it was showing.”
Several others commented on how their theater did not list the movie on their marquee or display any posters about it.
In spite of efforts to stop the film and the drastic reduction in the number of theaters willing to show it, Box Office Mojo reports that Gosnell took in more than $841K in its second week, making its total gross thus far over $2.5 million. It was ranked #12 after its second weekend.
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