It was about two years ago this month when I first saw Slumdog Millionaire. I knew very little about it before Jeff and I walked into the free screening other than the director Danny Boyle’s previous work and that the gameshow Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? factored into the plot. I can’t think of too many other movies I’ve walked out of and be so jazzed about life as I did with Slumdog. The first half is very grim, but the ending so joyous. I loved it. Not my favorite film of 2008, but I knew it was going to be a hit and sweep the awards circuit. That energy would carry the day.
127 Hours, Danny Boyle’s newest film, is hoping to capture that same magic. Based on true events, it’ll surely feature a grim first half and middle followed-up by the climax where the lead character breaks free from his imprisonment filled with the human spirit carrying him away from grim circumstances.
I’m willing to bet good money this film will not do well at the box office and little when it comes to awards time. Critics, advanced word-of-mouth and celebrity interviews on talk shows will reveal leading up to its release that this film is based on the true story about man, Aron Ralston, trapped by a boulder during a hiking trip and cuts his arm off to break free in order to survive.
That’s not going to play. The dramatic climax of the movie is the leading man severing off an appendage. Nope. I think that fact will alienate millions of dollars of box office. If this were a horror movie, playing to a horror movie crowd, it’d be different. But this is a “lift your spirits movie” and there will be a lot of folks not up to forking $15 and a bucket of popcorn to watch James Franco sever his arm off with a dull blade.
Let me be clear: I’m dying to see this film. Will see it opening weekend. I just think there will be a serious “not interested” out of the gate that might not give the film room to breathe to last to nomination time.
The real story is nothing less than remarkable. I remember watching a segment on Dateline NBC back in 2004 about Ralston’s story. It’s a jaw-dropper. Ralston currently tours the country as a distinguished speaker.