Journey a B.O. hit

With $250,000 in ticket sales from 18 prints in just three weeks, Sturla Gunnarsson’s Such A Long Journey is Vancouver-based distributor Red Sky Entertainment’s first legitimate box office ‘hit,’ says company president Tony Cianciotta.

Produced by Toronto’s The Film Works, Journey opened on Feb. 26 on three screens (two in Vancouver and one in Toronto) and brought in an impressive $48,000 its opening weekend.

‘We’re ecstatic,’ says Cianciotta.

Journey is booked until May and Cianciotta expects the film to continue to play well as it moves into smaller markets such as Winnipeg and Halifax. ‘It will continue to be on screen for a long time judging by the number of bookings we have,’ says the Red Sky topper.

According to Cianciotta, the film’s boffo box office is due to a combination of factors including strong critical praise, three Genies, a coinciding rerelease of the Rohinton Mistry novel with a cover featuring the movie poster, and a strategy to screen the film in suburban areas to target an East Indian audience.

Such A Long Journey was shot and set in India.

The Wednesday after its strong opening, Journey was given a gala screening in Ottawa attended by a number of prominent mps including Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, and perhaps more importantly, Finance Minister Paul Martin.

According to one source who attended the event, Martin enjoyed the film and was heard to say, ‘Okay, I get the message,’ perhaps indicating a future loosening of purse strings in response to the industry’s requests for more federal money for Canadian film.

‘We ran the risk of going there [Ottawa] with a film that had opened in Toronto with modest figures. Instead it made us feel really good that we were going there with a film that had opened quite strongly,’ says Cianciotta.

The Ottawa screening was cosponsored by Red Sky and Cineplex Odeon and stemmed from initiatives between cafde and the mptac to better promote Canadian films.

Red Sky tapped the Cineplex Odeon Marketing Fund to help finance Journey’s release.