Rob Reiner Film Fades After Short Test Run

Updated Aug 26 with insert about Facebook live chat of the film's director and star.
By Robert Marich
   Aug 25, 2010-It’s industry practice that films faring poorly in closed test screenings—so called test previews -- are not given regular theatrical release on the belief that multimillion-dollar spending on prints-and-advertising expense would be wasted. Coming of age teen drama Flipped is a rare film given guarded tryout with narrow release to theaters, presumably because its director, Rob Reiner, is a Hollywood power whose credits include comedy blockbuster When Harry Met Sally.
   The Hollywood Reporter recounts that Flipped played at 45 theaters in three metropolitan areas after an Aug 6 debut as a test of actual audience and film critic response. But Warner Bros. appears paring back, quietly backing away from theatrical release.
   “Despite mostly positive reviews, the inaugural playdates performed weakly,” notes the Hollywood Reporter article by Carl DiOrio. “So the studio reduced the pic to 29 runs last weekend but got similarly soft results. This weekend, its theater count will dwindle further, to eight total runs. But the latest playdates will include new markets -- including the oft-lucrative New York.”
   “While our initial test markets did not perform to our expectation, we love this movie, and we are committed to six new markets with a different plan in the hope we can find the audience to make this film a success,” the article quotes Warners distribution boss Dan Fellman.
    That indicates a new ad campaign is planned, although it would undoubtedly be tested in secret and may never see the sight of day if deemed no effective. The advertising poster for the current run presents an idyllic shot of a boy and girl sitting side-by-side on a tree branch and viewed from the rear. The key copy line is “You Never Forget Your First Love” that is accompanied by other text about Reiner’s extensive film credits. puts the box office for Flipped at just $584,694 as of Aug. 24. To try to generate more buzz, Reiner and the film's star Madeline Carroll conducted a live chat on Facebook Aug 26. The Facebook page contains a revised poster--the one-sheet. The copy line remains unchanged but the art shows an upside-down baby chick and this young chicken relates to the movie's theme of very young romance. The upside presentation means the chick is "flipped."
   The film presents the off-beat romance of second graders as they grow up in the 1960s—alternatively presenting events from the view of the boy and then girl. Director-writer-actor Reiner is also famous for Stand By Me, The Princess Bride and comedy This Is Spinal Tap, and actor on TV sit-com All in the Family.
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