The buzz around whether Casey Affleck’s “I’m Still Here” was or wasn’t a documentary seemed like a fortuitous publicity stunt. But were audiences tired of the Joaquin Phoenix show after the thesp-turned-rapper’s bizarre David Letterman appearance and the ensuing hype?
In the wake of helmer Affleck’s admission last week that “I’m Still Here” was all a sham, Magnolia broadened the pic’s rollout from 19 to 120 locations, with disappointing results. The release was considerably wider than for the average docu title.
Pic tallied $113,333 in its second week for a less-than-stellar per-screen average of $944. Domestic totals now stand at $259,290.
And while Affleck’s revelation could have gone either way with auds — the publicity posed equal potential to either pique or stifle curiosity — the pic’s weekend take suggests, in part, that moviegoers opted not to pay for a pic previously marketed as factual.
Magnolia reps declined to comment on whether the company knew the film was a hoax, but admitted it was a tough sell to begin with. “We never wanted to sell it as a mockumentary,” one insider said.
Magnolia acquired worldwide rights in June and is distribbing in the U.S.
“I’m Still Here,” which premiered at the Venice Film Fest and played at Toronto, has received mixed responses from critics, with champions like Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman describing the film as “an artful piece of exploitation verite.” Others, such as Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, have dismissed the film saying, “Fake or not, ‘I’m Still Here’ is no fun to watch.”
Roger Ebert, who called the pic “a sad and painful documentary,” tallied a list of U.S. critics who either believed or discredited the film as a documentary, with the majority falling somewhere in the middle.
Affleck could put all questions to rest when he appears on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” tonight. Pic’s subject Phoenix is skedded to return to “Late Show With David Letterman” Thursday, a stunt that could garner interest following his much-hyped earlier hoax appearance.
Regardless of the film’s factual status (now there is an even more meta debate as to whether Affleck’s confession was fake), Magnolia said it had always planned to expand the film theatrically Sept. 17. Pic bows on VOD Friday.