“I just want this movie to have a chance. That’s what you hope for—You hope for lightning in the bottle.”
Miramax Senior VP Production
(Quoted in 2003 in regard to the movie The Battle of Shaker Heights)
“I really hope this works. I hope people go see this movie. That would be the perfect ending for this.”
(On the movie he produced, The Battle of Shaker Heights.)
The Battle of Shaker Heights did not have a perfect ending. Not even close.
But back in 2003, the second Project Greenlight film did something that most low-budget films don’t see—it got released in theaters. Not a wide release, but it did open in New York and LA in a total of four theaters. (Contrast that with this weekend’s box office winner, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which opened in 4,155 locations.)
The second week of its release The Battle of Shaker Heights added eight more major markets. Then the battle was over. According to BoxOfficeMojo, the film’s widest release was 13 theaters and had a total run of 28 days and made just $280,351. (I’ll write about the film itself tomorrow on my last post on Project Greenlight 2.)
While the film was not a success and it would be the last Project Greenlight to air on HBO, I believe both Project Greenlight 1 & 2 were successful in showing the creative process of filmmaking. In one of the last TV episodes, Ben Affleck states, “I’m really am proud of how we were able to accurately show how hard it is to make a good movie.”
And the box office records show how hard it is to find an audience in theaters even if you have Affleck and Matt Damon behind the project, even if Affleck and actor Shia LaBeouf go on The Tonight Show promoting the film, even if HBO runs 13 episodes on the making of the film leading up to the release, and even if you have a well orchestrated press junket and a well-designed movie poster.
But while most low-budgets films (hundreds every year) are released direct to video and soon forgotten, here we are still talking about Project Greenlight 2 and The Battle for Shaker Heights eight years after the movie had its limited released. And, dang, not only in one post, but it will be a total of seven posts which I rarely do on any one subject.
Who knows, maybe five—ten—fifteen—twenty years from now some hotshot successful director will point to one of those Project Greenlights as inspiring them to become a filmmaker. I think Affleck, Damon and Moore would accept that as a perfect ending.