Why Universal Is Not Rushing Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ Into Theaters

Rush Movie

Formula One racing movie bows limited before going wide next weekend

Oscar-winning director? Check. Rising Hollywood star? Check. Plenty of studio marketing muscle? Excellent early reviews? Check, check.

Ron Howard’s Formula One racing movie “Rush” certainly has the high-profile elements to warrant a nationwide theatrical blowout. Yet, Universal, the distributor-for-hire on the film, has opted to open the Chris Hemsworth starrer at just five Stateside locations Friday before going wide next weekend.

The limited release, which should result in a sizable and therefore brag-worthy opening per-screen average, is meant to help lift the film’s profile for Stateside audiences. The platform bow also avoids a head-to-head battle with Warner Bros.’ similarly adult-targeted “Prisoners,” which is expected to win the weekend with $18 million-$20 million in wide release.

VIDEO: Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde on Their New “Rush”

If “Rush” doesn’t perform to expectations at its five opening locations (the five largest in the country), however, Universal will have provided other exhibitors with little incentive to play the film on their choicest screens next weekend.

It’s a risky move, for sure, though a platform release is not uncommon for elevated studio titles: Paramount used the strategy on “The Fighter” in 2010, and Warners does so with practically every Clint Eastwood film.

For “Rush,” which cost $38 million from co-producers and financiers Exclusive Media and Cross Creek, Howard and company have always faced an uphill battle in the States:

  •  Race car movies rarely win at the box office. Plus, “Rush” is a period film about a real-life rivalry between two Formula One racers, Brit James Hunt, played by Hemsworth, and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) — not a well-known story in the U.S.
  • Moreover, “Rush” failed to debut at No. 1 in the U.K., where it had the widest-ever launch for local distrib StudioCanal, earning just north of $3 million locally, behind “Insidious Chapter 2” ($4.6 million).

However, “Rush” received “highly favorable” ratings from 92% of the opening U.K. audience.

SEE ALSO: Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ for Independent Film Financing

Universal says the platform release was done to capitalize on the buzz coming out of the Toronto Film Festival, as well as to build on positive early reviews (currently at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Not surprisingly, the film is generating the loudest buzz with men over 25, though it recently has gained some traction with young females, according to Universal.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 15

Leave a Reply

15 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. BodiWu says:

    This movie genre/idea sucks, nobody in the USA gives a crap about Formula 1 racing. Yes from Ron Howard, a quality movie all the way, I don’t even have to see it to know that. Come on, entertain me, why else would I want to shell out $12 maybe $15 for a movie then for my date too and popcorn so I’m out $45 to $50? Gosh, artists, make a movie we want to see, please!!!!!

  2. annie says:

    I have zero interest in Formula 1 – but plenty of interest in watching Chris Hemsworth’s beautiful self for 2 hours. I am also old enough to remember Niki Lauda’s accident and the hype around Formula 1 back in the day. Loved this film. The leads both did an awesome job. They told a story of real people who are flawed. I ended up rooting for both Lauda and Hunt. I would see it again.

  3. Beth M says:

    The day this movie opened Sep 27, I went Friday night, which is na big night for movie going.

    This is a big multiplex outside Washington DC, in one of the fastest growing and richest counties in the USA. We still can afford going to a good movie……………………..

    The vast parking lot was full, yet in my theatre room to see Rush there was just 40 people, most of them men over 45 and a few couples, and the women did not look happy to be there,..

    When will you people learn, racing movies don’t sell tickets. In my life have seen Le Mans, Grand Prix, and other “racing movies” with my European husband. They were boring then and boring now.

    In the end this was a shallow movie about a party boy race driver and an obsessive German driver no one liked.

    The photography was good, in particular, the last race, with the rain. The acting was good, the pace was good, but at the end felt no connection or feeling to either one of these people, or the film. Not good for the box office.

  4. Dave VB says:

    Love it or Hate it, there will be no middle ground. I loved it, having raced formula cars myself similair to the F3 cars used early in the film, the film is SCARY REAL. Knowing the history of the men (read their books), the film is SCARY REAL. Not knowing the love interests of the men, I found that aspect PROVOCATIVE AND AFFECTIONATE. Now can the zombie killing, blowem up & shootem up special effect, popcorn munching addicts deal with a REAL FILM ABOUT REAL PEOPLE? THANKS RON i will see it MANY TIMES!!!!!!!!

  5. OldSchoolGuy says:

    Got to say…great movie…I am not an avid F1 fan…but after watching this tale of human involvement…the pressure, the dedication, the will to persevere…I am intrigued to watch F1. Thumbs up from this guy. Work hard, play hard seems more reasonable thanks to this movie!

  6. DS says:

    This film idea was stolen from Alex Pettyfer who had the idea to make this movie. He even bought the rights to the book.

  7. Daisy says:

    yuk, more testosterone oozing the screen………

  8. Jay says:

    The film stayed with me. Terrific performance from the two leads, most especially Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda. Terrific. Wanna watch it again.

  9. Julienne says:

    Beautifully made picture…left me wanting to go race!

  10. georgew444 says:

    Saw the film tonight. Amazing how Howard paints the big picture and yet focuses on the two characters involved. Excellent film

  11. Susan says:

    This is movie is soooo amazing, I’m gonna see twice!!!

  12. John Wesley says:

    Young females,,,,, yea right

  13. Hippio says:

    Seen it twice already and it was amazing … The best of 2013

  14. Mjkbk says:

    Maybe you’re asking the wrong generation (your own, apparently) of Americans about the story’s familiarity. I remember this one well. And I’m not a racing afficionado, either.

More Film News from Variety

Loading