The release date for Expelled is said to be April 18. Josh Timonen over at RichardDawkins.net seems to think it’s rolling out wide on 1,000 screens, which I find frankly unbelievable. Independent features, let alone indie documentaries, don’t get that kind of theatrical rollout unless they’re made by guys called Michael Moore. Almost no indie has that kind of a wide release. The simple cost of creating and shipping out 1,000 prints to theaters, and then buying the saturation advertising needed to make such a release strategy pay off, is simply way out of the reach of independent productions. Unless you’ve been picked up by one of the boutique “indie” arms of one of the majors, like Fox Searchlight. Which Expelled hasn’t.
So I suspect that an earlier figure I’ve heard of 100 screens is a lot more likely.
But what’s problematic for the movie at this point is that there is literally no buzz for it at all outside of the science/creationism/Christian/atheist blogosphere. Which, I’ll grant you, is big, but it’s not exactly where Jack and Jill Sixpack go for their entertainment news. So if Expelled really does stick to its April 18 release, it might as well be called Ignored. After all, look at what else is going out wide that weekend.
That’s a pretty serious slate of pre-summer Hollywood heavy hitters. Also, there is no April 18 listing for Expelled on the upcoming release pages at such major movie sites as IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, or Box Office Mojo. Those sites do, however, list one prominent independent documentary release for that date. It’s the new movie by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), which has had serious industry buzz for months.
Seriously, going up against a release slate like that, is it any wonder Expelled‘s producers have been trying to bribe Christian schools to take their students to see it? Without the “church bus bubble,” it’s looking like any theater showing Expelled will be as empty as ID’s scientific credibility.
Addendum: Jim Lippard has been dropping the occasional comment over at Pharyngula and reports that Expelled‘s own site claims they’re rolling out on 490 screens. We’ll see if that pans out. In the meantime, enjoy this entertaining report from New Scientist about a different screening, and the way that sleazebag Mark Mathis handled the Q&A. The producer of a movie complaining that ID supporters are systematically silenced threatening to throw out a challenging questioner? Gosh, fundies never do ironic, stupid things like that, do they?