Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > Entertainment Discussions > Movie Talk
Reload this Page >

Why is nobody going to 'Murderball'? (article)

Movie Talk A Discussion area for everything movie related including films In The Theaters

Why is nobody going to 'Murderball'? (article)

Old 08-03-05, 08:57 AM
  #1  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 7,935
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Why is nobody going to 'Murderball'? (article)

Why is nobody going to 'Murderball'?
Film earns good reviews, little money

Tuesday, August 2, 2005; Posted: 4:00 p.m. EDT (20:00 GMT)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) -- The movie "Murderball" has all the makings of a big hit: Tough guys, violence, a little sex and a U.S. sports team overcoming long odds. Reviews have been fabulous.

So why aren't more people going to see it?

"Murderball" is the true story of the U.S. wheelchair rugby team, and the stars are real-life paraplegic athletes. Their sport, also called quad rugby, is as much demolition derby as anything.

Ticket sales have been slow in comparison to the movie's buzz, and the distributor worries that America just isn't ready for a frank documentary -- even a really good one -- about guys in wheelchairs.

"The only explanation is that people don't want to see something about handicapped people. There is some resistance," said Mark Urman, head of the theatrical division at the New York-based THINKFilm.

Filmed primarily in Birmingham, the unofficial "Murderball Capital of America" since the U.S. Paralympic team trains here, the movie's poor draw in opening weeks has been disheartening both to the men who appear in it and disabled people who hoped the film would create new avenues of understanding and acceptance.

"Murderball" opened in New York and Los Angeles on July 8, then expanded to 10 top markets without getting a hoped-for bump. The movie is now showing in between 80 and 100 theaters nationwide.

Ticket sales totaled $263,918 through last weekend, according to Paul Degarabedian of Exhibitor Relations, a box office tracking company.

"That's not bad for a documentary," he said. But the numbers are low given the "extremely high" expectations for the movie, he said.

"There's a lot of interest in the film. It's just not available in every town," he said.

'It is an awkward subject matter'
Neither is wheelchair rugby, with only 450 or so players nationwide.

The game is played in a gymnasium by four-on-four teams. Players bash wheelchairs and flip each other trying to carry the ball across the goal line in their laps.

Directed by Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro, "Murderball" won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and critics have been lavish with praise. Player Mark Zupan, who is featured in the movie, has done both "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno and "Live with Regis and Kelly."

"All of that said, the film should have done better," said Urman.

Mark Johnson, director of advocacy at the Shepherd Center rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, agrees that audiences may be put off by the subject of disability, but there are reasons besides wheelchairs for poor ticket sales, he said. Documentaries generally fare poorly, and the movie is rated R for profanity, brief nudity and locker room talk about how disabled men have sex.


Quad rugby can be a ferocious game, taking on a free-for-all atmosphere.Still, Johnson had hoped more people would go see a movie he considers groundbreaking for the honest way in which it depicts disabled people. Some are heroic and some are jerks, just like everyone else.

"It is an awkward subject matter in a lot of families," Johnson said. "Even though it is in a lot of people's backyard, they haven't dealt with it on the level this film deals with it."

The movie was shot mostly at the U.S. national team's training site at the Lakeshore Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Birmingham that promotes independent living for the disabled.

'It shows people as people'
"Murderball" was filmed over three years by a crew that trailed U.S. players preparing for world championships and the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. One of the stars is Bob Lujano, 36, who works at Lakeshore and plays on the U.S. team.

Lujano's legs and most of his arms were amputated when he was 9 because of a rare form of meningitis, and he gets around most days in a regular wheelchair. But for rugby games, Lujano straps himself into a custom-made, low-riding chair built for speed and stability.

Having cameras around during workouts and competition was a hassle at first, Lujano said, but he soon came to appreciate the crew's hard work. He wishes more people would see the movie, which he said depicts the life of a wheelchair athlete "in brutal honesty."

"Even though we are in a wheelchair, we have the same hopes and goals as other people (like) Carl Lewis and Michael Jordan," he said.

The U.S. team's coach, Kevin Orr, said "Murderball" works because it shows his players as they really are: Dedicated athletes going all-out to win, not someone to be pitied or praised simply because of their physical condition.

"It shows people as people," Orr said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Movi....ap/index.html
_______________________

I hate to see an article like this before the movie has made it to DVD. I try to catch as many documentaries as I can and almost all of them I watch at home. Same goes for this movie.
Old 08-03-05, 09:09 AM
  #2  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Daytona Beach, FL
Posts: 22,067
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I saw it and it is a good movie, but what chance does an R rated documentary about quadriplegics have against a feel good G-rated one about Penguins?
Old 08-03-05, 09:14 AM
  #3  
DVD Talk Reviewer
 
Pointyskull's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Formerly known as "12thmonkey"/Frankfort, IL
Posts: 7,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by atlantamoi
Why is nobody going to 'Murderball'?
Most docs do relatively poor at the box office - with the rare exception of a real hot button subject, ala Michael Moore or some quirky, relatable pop culture connection, as with Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me, which was helped by a lot of press and that fact that a lot of people in this country have eaten at McDonald's.

A doc about quadriplegic rugby - despite the catchy title - just sounds like a tough theater sell for the mainstream.

I'm a real doc-lover, but I fully intend on waiting for the DVD release of Murderball to see it. That's just the way it is.

Last edited by Pointyskull; 08-03-05 at 09:19 AM.
Old 08-03-05, 09:17 AM
  #4  
Moderator
 
Groucho's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Posts: 70,870
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It would help if their marketing campaign would tell what the film is about. We've discussed it before, but a lot of the advertisements even hide the fact that it's a documentary.
Old 08-03-05, 09:25 AM
  #5  
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Why I am not going to Murderball...
1). It is a documentary, and in limited release.
2). It is about rugby, a sport that I, and most Americans just don't care about, whether in wheelchairs, or in the traditional way.
Old 08-03-05, 09:49 AM
  #6  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Drexl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 16,012
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've never heard of it. Maybe that's why I haven't gone to see it.
Old 08-03-05, 09:57 AM
  #7  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Sugar Land, TX
Posts: 14,358
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I saw it because it was free, but most people aren't willing to pay full price for a documentary. That's just how it is.
Old 08-03-05, 10:04 AM
  #8  
MrE
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,967
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great movie, but rugby is only one of the plot threads. It's also about courage, competition and reconciliation, all of which are given more screen time than the game. Which is not to knock the game, since those sequences are awesome. It may be a doc, but it's got some great stories to tell...some of them pretty damn funny.
Old 08-03-05, 10:11 AM
  #9  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 7,935
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by TheMadMonk
Why I am not going to Murderball...
1). It is a documentary, and in limited release.
2). It is about rugby, a sport that I, and most Americans just don't care about, whether in wheelchairs, or in the traditional way.
Just curious... do you never at least rent a documentary every once in awhile? I can understand not wanting to see something about a subject you have no interest in, BUT one of the great things about docs to me is how much I can learn about a situation very different from what I have experienced (probably one big reason I also like foreign movies). I often find more intrigue and suspense in docs than typical ficitional flicks.
Old 08-03-05, 10:34 AM
  #10  
Needs to contact an admin about multiple accounts
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 2,730
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I went to see it last Saturday afternoon, and I was running late. After all the hype and noise on this film, I thought I was screwed, and would have to wait in line, get a shitty seat...

I get up to the ticket booth - no line. I walk into the theater, and there were about 30 people scattered over 1000 seats. It floored me.

It's a good movie, but it really should be called KINDA ABOUT MURDERBALL since it goes on so many tangents.

And
Spoiler:
what the fuck did Team Canada fire Joe?
That was left open for no reason.
Old 08-03-05, 10:46 AM
  #11  
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,393
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by atlantamoi
Just curious... do you never at least rent a documentary every once in awhile? I can understand not wanting to see something about a subject you have no interest in, BUT one of the great things about docs to me is how much I can learn about a situation very different from what I have experienced (probably one big reason I also like foreign movies). I often find more intrigue and suspense in docs than typical ficitional flicks.
Yes, I'll watch a documentary now and then, but pretty much always on dvd or tv. Let's face it, they don't usually do that great in the theaters.
Old 08-03-05, 01:04 PM
  #12  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Somewhere between Heaven and Hell
Posts: 30,645
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
Originally Posted by atlantamoi
Just curious... do you never at least rent a documentary every once in awhile?
I'm more interested in March of the Penguins than I am of Murderball. I'm not big on documentaries.
Old 08-03-05, 01:05 PM
  #13  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 12,306
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
play it here and i will see it
Old 08-03-05, 02:03 PM
  #14  
DVD Talk God
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Directionally Challenged (for DirecTV)
Posts: 123,190
Likes: 0
Received 3 Likes on 3 Posts
I won't see it in the theater, but I'll get the DVD based on Sports Guy's review:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2...simmons/050803
Old 08-03-05, 03:16 PM
  #15  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: San Leandro/San Francisco
Posts: 7,422
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It was the talk of Sundance when I was there in Jaunuary but most people I mention it to have no desire to see it because of the subject matter.
TheTitle doesnt help either.
Old 08-03-05, 03:31 PM
  #16  
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: San Marcos, TX
Posts: 3,137
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For starters, it's (at this point, extremely limited) theatrical run places it against summer blockbusters and a couple other documentaries (the red hot March of the Penguins, and Mad Hot Ballroom). However, if you want the true explanation for why this movie isn't doing all that well, you should look no farther than the article itself:

"That's not bad for a documentary," he said. But the numbers are low given the "extremely high" expectations for the movie...
-JP
Old 08-03-05, 03:50 PM
  #17  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Charlie Goose's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Sesame Street (the apt. next to Bob's)
Posts: 20,199
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I won't see it for the same reason most people won't, I don't want to watch people in wheelchairs.
Old 08-03-05, 05:16 PM
  #18  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 7,935
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Charlie Goose
I won't see it for the same reason most people won't, I don't want to watch people in wheelchairs.
I can't tell if you are joking or not, but if you are not... fascinating.
Old 08-03-05, 05:47 PM
  #19  
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 3,033
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm all about the Pengiuns...They are so cute...
Screw the wheelchair sport, I want to see fuzzy little birds marching onward!
Old 08-03-05, 06:07 PM
  #20  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Damfino's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 6,279
Received 2 Likes on 2 Posts
Originally Posted by scott shelton
And
Spoiler:
what the fuck did Team Canada fire Joe?
That was left open for no reason.
That question came up during a post movie Q&A at CineVegas in June.
Spoiler:
According to Mark Zupan, Joe was fired because of a personality clash with Team Canada's management.
Old 08-03-05, 06:16 PM
  #21  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
DeanoBKN's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 5,260
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just doesn't interest me. That's all.
Old 08-03-05, 06:42 PM
  #22  
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 3,033
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It lacks the heart-warming, "aww" factor that a bunch of sweet little ole' Pengiuns have!
Old 08-03-05, 06:56 PM
  #23  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 485
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have absolutely no interest in this movie and apparently the rest of the country doesn't either.
Old 08-03-05, 07:04 PM
  #24  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oklahoma, USA
Posts: 8,494
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I haven't seen any trailers for it and all you can glean from the poster is that the movie has some guy's face in it. I do know from reading about it on the Internet that it's about handicapped guys playing rugby, but no matter how good the movie actually is, that doesn't really excite me, so I'm not going to go out of my way to see it.

March of the Penguins on the other hand, I've seen the trailer for it several times and I thought it looked pretty cool. I may go and see that one.

Last edited by Joe Molotov; 08-04-05 at 02:18 AM.
Old 08-03-05, 08:41 PM
  #25  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
 
Jazzbutcher's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: NYC Burbs
Posts: 2,703
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bad title.
Poster doen't convey anything about the film. And I say this because I pass it everyday on the way to the train.

2 strikes before you even get started....

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.