How Bandslam Became One of the Year's Biggest Box-Office Busts


Sincerest apologies to anyone who went looking for Bandslam in this week's Weekend Receipts column, where the acclaimed teen musical-comedy's absence wasn't the oversight you might have initially thought. It was just a simple misunderstanding -- an unreasonable expectation that Summit Entertainment could sell a movie other than Twilight to young adults. And for those of you interested in knowing how the turkey sausage was made, an embittered "Bandslam insider" is more than happy to comply. Oh, and bring a grain of salt with you after the jump just in case.

The "insider" sent Nikki Finke the obvious claims that Summit didn't know how to market the film, which limped to a 13th-place finish over the weekend with $2.2 million (a staggeringly bad $1,061 per screen). But the torrent of incompetence diagrammed here actually makes for a pretty riveting read -- all the more so because it ends with Summit boss Rob Friedman's day-late, dollar-short mea culpa (if you believe it):

[Summit marketing president] Nancy Kirkpatrick took instructions from Rob. He had this idea in his head to sell it with the Disney slant, and no one could sway him. People tried, trust me. They knew the movie tested through the roof but the materials didn't. And still he was bullish. He's just so fucking arrogant. The real problem was that this was [Walden Media] Cary Granat's baby and when he was let go, and Alex Schwartz was let go - the project got taken over by Summit. Eric Feig was in the middle of TWILIGHT, so it became Rob's baby. He saw Vanessa [Hudgens] singing and he could only could think of one way to sell it. The only problem is, she's not playing Gabriella from HSM. She's playing a dark, monotone goth character. And she's really pretty good. But you wouldn't know it by the ads. [...]

Todd Graff wrote and directed a beautiful lyrical film with a killer soundtrack that the Hollywood Reporter critic compared to a cross between Cameron Crowe and John Hughes. Read the Washington Post review. It's crazy making.

For what it's worth, Rob is very contrite now. He's apologizing to everyone. Tail between his legs, that kind of thing. But as the reality hits, it's too little, way too late. Heartbreaking.

"For what it's worth"? Oh, come on, Todd. You know you were touched. Anyway, for your trouble, can Friedman interest you in lunch and maybe a coveted Breaking Dawn directing gig? Friendsies? Please?

· Behind-The-Scenes Of 'Bandslam' & Summit [DHD]


  • Furious D says:

    While making no judgments on the veracity, or accuracy of the "insider's" message, the movie was very poorly marketed for something that scored over 80% at Rotten Tomatoes. I try to pay attention to new releases, and I didn't even know it was coming out.
    And the little I did see that came after the release made it look like a High School Musical redux for tweens, which it apparently isn't.
    The company better hope it catches on in home video.

  • busterbluth says:

    I was really amazed at the quality of the reviews. Check the "top critics" setting on RT; it has an 89%. I'll wait for the DVD release, which should be next week. Right?

  • Strepsi says:

    That one press photo alone is a turn-off too. If Vanessa Hudgens is indeed playing a "dark goth character" than you can also shovel some blame at the costume director: she's dressed like a male Ace Frehley.

  • HassanE says:

    Bandslam is set to possibly be one of the hit movies of the summer. Bandslam is about a high school garage band determined to win a battle of the bands (cliché), wherein the geeky kid falls for the popular female lead singer (ostensibly cliché), and the band performs pop-rock, especially Cheap Trick's "I want you to want me." (Really cliché.) In the end, the band is signed to a record deal by an established music personality (aggressively cliché), in this case David Bowie. The movie reviews have all been glowing, as critics avoid giving honest critiques of films of this sort. Many tweens and their parents will likely line up a payday loan to see Bandslam.