Mighty Heart, Angelina Jolie's Vehicle, Box-Office Struggle

July 6, 2007–Paramount Vantage has changed its strategy for “A Mighty Heart” after a weak opening and a steep decline in the second frame, cutting back the number of screens from 1,350 to 651 beginning this weekend.

The goal is to keep the film, starring Angelina Jolie, alive in urban and other key markets for a longer box office run.

Both 20th Century Fox with “Borat” last fall and the Weinstein Co. with “Sicko” last month decided to cut back on the number of screens shortly in advance of the films' launches. These moves allowed word of mouth to spread, and that's what Par Vantage is hoping for.

“Mighty Heart” took in $5.4 million for its June 22 opening weekend, drawing a disappointing per-screen average of $2,914. In its second frame, the tally was $1.6 million. With a cume of $7.6 million through Wednesday, “Mighty Heart” turned out to be a tougher sell than the studio had anticipated.

The label still plans on an aggressive awards campaign for “Mighty Heart,” with Jolie's performance in particular receiving awards buzz. The film is expected to hit DVD during awards season. A key goal of any kudos strategist is to ensure that a film is seen, a serious consideration during the year-end glut, and the DVD will help considerably.

Par Vantage execs said they took a chance with the wide opening of “A Mighty Heart” on June 22. They were encouraged by the media coverage of Jolie and Brad Pitt at Cannes in May, and by the success of last fall's expansion of “Babel” to 1,251 screens in its third frame.

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