There's a story making the rounds -- originating, as best I can tell, with this post over at Yahoo! Movies -- making the case that this past weekend's minor computer-animated effort Delgo is, to paraphrase, the biggest wide-release bomb of all time.

Is that right? As usual, it depends on how you look at it. If you limit your scope to films released in over 2000 theaters -- Delgo occupied 2,160 -- then the raw numbers back up this claim: Delgo's $237 weekend per-screen average and $511,920 gross easily top the chart of all-time worst openings in that category. On the other hand, just this September a quasi-documentary called Proud American opened on 750 screens and managed an even more impressive $128 per-screen average. And Delgo even has competition this December: just the week before, the Alan Rickman action comedy Nobel Son opened on 893 screens to a comparable $374 per-screen average.

Both Delgo and Nobel Son were distributed by Freestyle Releasing, an independent distributor-for-hire. Freestyle fared slightly better with The Haunting of Molly Hartley over Halloween and much better with this summer's limited-release Bottle Shock. The lesson here, I think, is that unless you've got something that's easy to market (e.g. the PG-13 horror of Molly Hartley) and the budget to market it, an independently-arranged wide (or semi-wide) release is a very dicey proposition. Trying to shove a low-profile animated family film into the marketplace during the holidays is even dicier.

Delgo
may be the biggest wide-release flop of all time, but no one will remember its failure like they remember Cutthroat Island and Last Action Hero: not because Delgo was low-budget (it reportedly cost $40 million), but because it was, for all intents and purposes, set up to fail.