CATEGORIES Drama, Thrillers, Paramount, Distribution, Exhibition, Peter Jackson, Movie Marketing, Movie News, CinematicalSo far, Paramount's The Lovely Bones hasn't quite gotten the critical response expected from a film directed and written by a team of Oscar winners. Alice Sebold's dramatic novel about a raped and murdered teen watching from a sort of limbo as her family and friends wrestle with the unsolved crime while the culprit roams free was itself in limbo for several years. But despite the tumult, it seemed that Bones could still make the Oscar race, especially with Peter Jackson and his frequent collaborators Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh behind the screenplay, and a star-studded cast that includes Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan as the narrator, Susie Salmon.
However, Bones didn't quite satisfy critics; it's at 38% over at Rotten Tomatoes, and Cinematical's own Elisabeth Rappe wrote in her review, "It's neither a faithful adaptation nor a daring reinvention of the material, and it's truly baffling why Jackson wanted to adapt it at all." The adults aren't buying it, but, much to Paramount's surprise, it looks like the movie's real audience could be young women.
The LA Times reports that "after test research on the movie, Paramount found there was a potentially hidden audience of females between 13 and 25." As someone who read and adored the book and was disappointed by the movie, this first struck me as somewhat puzzling, but the more I chewed on it, the more it makes sense. While some adults found that Jackson's CGI wonderland overshadowed the emotional complexities of the book, including its forthright treatment of Susie's budding desire, the conflict between justice and revenge, and the horror of her murder and rape, the movie was written by Jackson and Walsh "so that it would be watchable by their 13-year-old daughter." It's only logical, then, that that's the audience who would enjoy it most.
Bones, in its own way, offers the younger viewer a slightly kinder, gentler thriller that skips over the gruesome parts and offers a villain that's a caricature, the protective daddy who wants nothing more than to save and protect you, and, in the end, the vicarious and morbid thrill of watching what happens in the world after you die. It offers a handsome crush and an In-Between filled with things that younger women might like -- one scene, as many reviewers have pointed out, is a glamorous magazine photo shoot reminiscent of that in Precious.
Ronan herself has said in interviews that she didn't read the book before she made the movie because, "Well, I was just a bit too young to read it. I heard it was a tough read, especially the first chapter, and after reading it now I realize that it is quite tough. But I eventually did read it and it was beautiful and I thought that Pete and Fran [Walsh] and Philippa [Boyens] did a great job adapting it." (It's definitely a tough read, and not a book I'd recommend to younger readers.)
The Lovely Bones opens nationwide on January 15th, 2010. Do you think the crowd flocking to see it will be comprised of this new target audience?