One of the more frustrating issues with Sundance movies — indeed, most indie movies — is that, especially during this time of the year, we devote a lot of copy to these movies because they’re often the more interesting kinds of movies to discuss. They have the better premises, the better performances, and the better hooks. The frustrating part about that usually is, despite the talent often involved, and despite the promising careers of many of the upstart directors, these movies that we’ve devoted a lot of attention to will usually come and go with barely a note about their per screen average in the box-office report.
Besides Buried, which we’ve already covered this morning, another one of the high-profile Sundance pics is The Runaways, based on the late ’70s all girl punk outfit that included members Joan Jett and Lita Ford. Why is it interesting to us? Because it concerns an influential rock group, because it stars two of the better young actresses today (Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning) and, because, really, the marketing folks behind it are pushing the sex angle down our throats in what is really an uncomfortable manner, considering the age of one of its major stars (Fanning is still 16, y’all). That cherry — of the Runaways’ biggest break-out hit, “Cherry Bomb” — is front-and-center in the marketing, and you know that the people behind this movie aren’t making any attempts to play down the Kristen Stewart/Dakota Fanning make-out scene. Let me demonstrate with the movie poster and a few images from the film that were released over the weekend:
A glistening cherry and the tagline, “It’s 1975 and they’re about to explode.” Really? It’s good to know that the indie folks aren’t above exploitation, either. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t care how many pedo-friendly images they churn out, or how many times they get that make-out scene onto YouTube, in the end, nobody is going to see this movie. Remember the Dakota Fanning rape movie? Of course you don’t. It took 18 months to sell and was basically dumped into two theaters for one weekend. The Runaways will likely fare better than that, but not by much, and perhaps for good reason. The word from the first screening over the weekend is that