Fruitvale Station: Oscar Contender?

Despite the studios’ effort to control the marketing campaigns and the release patterns of their movies, there is always an element of unpredictability, such as the particular time, or the specific political context in which a movie opens.



Thus, the opening of the indie “Fruitvale Station” on the same weekend as the Trayvon Martin trial concluded was certainly not planned by The Weinstein Company. But the similarity of the two high-profile shootings was a potent reminder for the Weinstein Co. pickup, which scored the weekend’s highest per-screen average of nearly $54,000 from seven locations, including the sold-out Grand Lake theater in Oakland, California, where the tragic shooting took place.

“Obviously, we had no idea of what would be going on at the time we dated the movie, but it’s very topical,” said Weinstein distribution topper Erik Lomis, referring to Saturday’s acquittal of Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watchman, in Sanford, Florida. “It’s hard to watch this film and not be moved,” Lomis added.

“Fruitvale Station” is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young African-American man in Oakland, who was shot and killed by a BART police officer in 2009.

“Fruitvale Station” bears the distinction of being a double winner at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival (in January): getting the Grand Jury and the Audiences Awards.

The film, which stars Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer, sold out Friday night and Saturday evening screenings at the Oakland location, as well as at the Arclight Hollywood and the Angelika in New York.

Many supporters of “Fruitvale” found the timing of the opening particularly resonated with the news of George Zimmerman’s acquittal.
Spike Lee quoted his wife Tonya Lewis Lee’s support of the film on Twitter.

With strong critical support, “Fruitvale Station” emerges as a contender for the Best Picture Oscar, hoping that the Academy voters (and critics) would remember the picture in December and January.

According to the meter of Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has 90 percent of approval from the nation’s critics (10 percent of the reviews have been negative).