Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Specialty Box Office: 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck' Primes HBO Pump, Russell Crowe's 'Water Diviner' Is Spotty Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel': From Pleasant Surprise to Box Office Phenomenon UPDATED

Thompson on Hollywood By David Gritten | Thompson on Hollywood May 2, 2012 at 1:34PM

The year’s first British movie hit in the UK has shifted from being a pleasant surprise to a box office phenomenon. The question is whether its adult appeal will translate when Fox Searchlight opens the film stateside on May 4.
1

Tom Wilkinson is a bachelor High Court judge yearning to return to India, and revisit a love affair he experienced as a young man. Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton play a couple, unhappily married, whose retirement fund has almost diseappeared. Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup are two lonely seniors looking for companionship.

So successfully has "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" played that there’s talk all across the UK media about a revival in films for seniors; the Guardian’s G2 movies and music supplement ran a cover story titled “Silver Screenings: How cinema grew up and found a new audience.”

This is a big claim to pin on one modest movie. Yet the over-50s are an under-served sector of the audience, and many of them have given up on going to movies. Unlike younger audiences who like to see a new movie on its opening weekend, seniors typically wait days, even weeks before committing to see a movie -- by which time it’s often been yanked from release.

Reviews for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" have been mixed. Many critics have pointed to its creaky, contrived plot and its stereotypical view of a ‘colourful’ India, where older people are more respected. Yet director John Madden (who scored a major hit among seniors back in 1998 with "Shakespeare in Love," including the Academy, which gave it the best picture Oscar) has made a film its target audience seems to enjoy hugely, with a classy cast they adore.

On this last note, it’s worth mentioning that Judi Dench is box-office gold in the UK, and has been for a decade now. All films with Dench in a major role have been automatic hits in Britain: "Iris," "Ladies in Lavender," "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and "Notes on a Scandal." (These numbers were diminished stateside, although "Ladies in Lavender" and "Notes on a Scandal" did well in specialty cinemas.) Even more telling is how long these films are held over in theaters, as older audiences gradually discover them.

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" has also benefited from a timely raising of awareness of a social problem in the UK: the provision of care for the nation’s elderly people, and the importance of treating them with dignity in residential homes. This has recently become a major issue. Three days after the film opened in Britain, a hard-hitting national report was published, criticising the neglect and even abuse of the elderly in Britain’s care homes and hospitals. It made front-page headlines.

In its first 20 minutes, the film portrays Britain as a nation that is disdainful or hostile to senior citizens. Clearly this strand of the story has resonated strongly with older audiences, and Nighy and Dench in particular have been outspoken in media interviews about the way Britain treats its old people.

UPDATE: The film grossed around $31 million by the end of its UK run. That’s well short of last year’s big senior hit, "The King’s Speech" ($70 million) but that title benefited from the huge publicity that accompanies a successful awards campaign. In contrast "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" has done remarkable business from what amounts to a standing start.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Judi Dench, Fox Searchlight, Fox Searchlight


E-Mail Updates