One million for Incendies

After less than three weeks in theaters, award-winning Quebec director Denis Villeneuve's Incendies has pulled in one million at the box office, a major feat for an auteur film with hard-hitting subject matter.
Incendies

After less than three weeks in theaters, award-winning Quebec director Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies has pulled in one million at the box office, a major feat for an auteur film with hard-hitting subject matter.

And while the box office success is good news for the film’s producer, it also means revisiting his marketing campaign. Now.

“We would have been happy if we drew one million for the whole life of the film. All of a sudden we realize that we are reaching a larger public than we anticipated. So we are asking ourselves ‘did we underestimate the film’s potential?’ and how can we make sure it reaches it,’” says Luc Dery, founder of Montreal prodco micro_scope.

Written and directed by Villeneuve (Polytechnique) the film explores the devastating impact of war in the Middle-East on a single family and was adapted from the acclaimed stage play by Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad.

Distributed by both Christal Films and Seville, Canada’s Oscar pick has drawn $1 030,378 since its Sept. 17 release and is averaging $6,771 per screen, says the distributor. After the weekend of October 1, the film stood in the number two position in Quebec, just behind David Fincher’s The Social Network, which dominated North American box offices according to Telefilm Canada.

The Social Network opened in the top spot with $2.2 million in Canadian box office sales ($363,541 in Quebec), while Incendies took in $235,984 over the same weekend across 28 screens, according to Telefilm. The distributor has added nearly ten theatres since the initial release; Incendies will play on 37 screens over Thanksgiving Weekend, says Dery.

Dery is unsure why the film is reaching a wider audience. “We thought the core audience would be people who were familiar with Wajdi Mouawad or Denis Villeneuve’s work, but it’s reaching a more mainstream public and it’s doing surprisingly well in rural Quebec.”

Lebanese Quebecers may be coming out to support the film because it’s set in the Middle-East and playwright Mouawad is Lebanese. Quebec is home to Canada’s largest Lebanese community. “We tried to reach opinion makers in the Lebanese media. And if you consult the commentary on websites, there are definitely comments from the Middle-Eastern community,” says Dery.

And while Dery is planning to tweak his marketing campaign to appeal to a broader audience, he acknowledges that at this stage he may have little control over how many people see the film. “Distributing is not an exact science. You try to make the best decisions. But the truth is right now it’s about word-of-mouth.”