Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan couldn’t count on moviegoers to show up for his long-delayed drama Margaret, despite having an impressive cast that includes a much younger-looking Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, and Matt Damon.
Lonergan collaborated with the likes of Martin Scorcese on the film – a post-9/11 drama about a 17-year-old New York City high-school student, played by Paquin, who strongly believes she inadvertently played a role in a traffic accident that killed a woman – shooting the picture way back in 2005. After its complicated journey to the big screen, it seems moviegoers lost any interest they once had in his follow-up to the Oscar-nominated You Can Count On Me. Playing on just two screens – Landmark’s indie house theaters in New York and Los Angeles – Margaret earned just $7,500 at the box office in its opening weekend.
While those returns may not sound so dismal at first glance (especially considering the pushed-back project was only playing on two screens), Yahoo!’s movie blog The Projector crunched the numbers and discovered that with an average ticket costing $12, the film, which had 24 total showings and averaged $312.50 per showing over the weekend, only boasted 624 moviegoers. (EW reached out to Lonergan, Paquin, and the studio behind Margaret, Fox Searchlight, but none were immediately available for comment.)
But what exactly was it that kept people away? Plenty of directors have had large gaps of time between their impressive debuts and their follow-ups, so what made Lonergan’s Margaret such a box office disappointment? Was it too unbelievable for moviegoers to see actors we’re all familiar with looking noticeably younger? Or the fact that its disputed running time – a lengthy two-and-a-half-hours – was actually the shortened version of the film? Or was it simply didn’t look worth the wait after six years? (Even critics were blase about the movie, including EW’S Owen Gleiberman who gave it a tepid B- score.)
Whatever the case may be with Margaret, those who spent the past few years trying to get it released can rest easy about one thing: It doesn’t have the worst box office return of all-time. No, that title still belongs to the very little-seen 2006 Katherine Heigl and Tom Sizemore thriller Zyzzyx Road. A movie that was never meant to see the light of day in the first place screened one time a day at one screen at a theater in Dallas. It’s total intake during its run? $30.
Were you one of the few who saw Margaret this weekend, New York or Los Angeles-based PopWatcher? If so, what did you think of it? Was it worth the six-year wait? How many people were in your theater when you saw it? But, what about you other PopWatchers? What was the emptiest movie you’ve ever attended? Share in the comments section below?