Marshall Curry's award-winning documentary, Racing Dreams, opens this weekend around the country. Unlike most documentary opening weekends, though, you're not going to find the film playing at cinemas in New York City or Los Angeles. Instead, it's opening in places like Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Alabama. It's opening in Texas, but not in places like Austin or Houston. More like Mesquite, TX and Hurst, TX. It's opening in Michigan, but in Flint, not Detroit. It's opening in Georgia, but in cities such as Buford, and not Atlanta. What's the approach? This, in my not entirely unbiased (Cinetic sold the film to Hannover House) opinion, is a smart and exciting platform strategy.
While Marshall Curry is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, and Racing Dreams won the jury prize at last year's Tribeca Film Festival, the documentary is essentially a love letter to small-town America. It's a love letter composed with the ink of NASCAR. Curry follows a collection of charismatic kids as they compete in the World Karting Association, the "Little League for professonal racing." The filmmaking is top-notch, and the characters are infinitely watchable, so you don't have to be a fan of NASCAR to appreciate Racing Dreams. The film's theatrical release will get it to New York City and Los Angeles in June, but for now, it's opening in theaters nearer to you than you might think.
UPDATE: Turns out the unconventional strategy may not have worked out so well, as reports indicate that the film managed a rater tiny $600 per screen average this weekend. Oh well.