After the unexpected drama that has circled Danny Boyle’s amazing “127 Hours,” most studios or distributors could be forgiven for letting the picture’s box office run its course. That is not Fox Searchlight’s mantra, however. The studio that took Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” to Oscar heights isn’t giving up on “Hours” even if a best picture nod now seems unlikely and the film has only grossed $8.5 million so far in no more than 433 theaters.
This week the studio sent out T-shirts to media and industry folk with the buzzworthy tagline “I Kept My Eyes Open for 127 Hours.” There is also a new website promising more content at ikeptmyeyesopenfor127hours.com. It’s a very public nod to the somewhat unnerving overreaction a minuscule number of moviegoers have had to the film’s reenactment of Aaron Johnson’s treacherous accident in a Utah canyon. Even competing studios have been surprised by the reported incidents of attendees fainting or having “attacks” during the picture. Especially since most horror movies have much nastier things depicted on screen than that what occurs for a brief moment in “Hours.” By taking this position, however, Searchlight is telling those that have seen “127 Hours,” survived and loved it to wear that as a badge of honor. Needless to say, I’m 100% on board as the film’s ranking in my upcoming top 10 list will no doubt prove.
Meanwhile, the studio is thrilled at “Hours” three Golden Globe nominations including best actor (James Franco), best screenplay and best original song. Can “127 Hours” use year-end awards and nominations to turn into an indie hit? Searchlight hasn’t given up yet and if you haven’t seen it? Don’t be afraid. The movie might just surprise you.
Have you seen “127 Hours”? Did you keep your eyes open?
Follow Gregory Ellwood and Awards Campaign on Twitter @HitFixGregory