So when it came to marketing the drama "Fruitvale Station," the Weinstein Co. did what it does best: Ride the zeitgeist.
At a moment of national reckoning, when emotional demonstrations are being staged across the country externalizing the debate about race and equality in 21st century America, the studio is employing a marketing campaign predicated on generating a dialogue about social injustice to give the film a promo push.
The winner of the
On Sunday, Erik Lomis, the studio's head of theatrical distribution, told The Times that the Weinstein Co. was not looking to cash in on the synergy between real-life and on-screen events. "It's not going to hurt us – but we're not saying, 'If you're upset about the Zimmerman case, go see this," Lomis said.
The Weinstein Co.’s
Another Instagram features co-star
The film's website highlight's the Weinstein Co.'s "I am__" campaign which encourages visitors to share stories of overcoming acts of prejudice, bullying, social injustice or mistreatment and submit photos and artworks representing those experiences. The campaign is "an opportunity to create an expressive, nonjudgmental community for love, healing and equality," the website explains.
In limited release in seven cities since July 12 (before it expands to 18 new cities Friday and platforms across the country later this month), "Fruitvale Station" got off to a strong start last weekend, claiming the third-highest opening of the year for a film in limited release. To date, the micro-budgeted movie has tallied $430,000 at the box office.
On Saturday in Los Angeles, "Fruitvale Station" star Michael B. Jordan told a screening audience he was devastated by the ruling and considered skipping the screening out of grief and rage.
"My heart hurts so bad right now," he said. "I wasn't going to come after I found out about George Zimmerman getting acquitted. It broke me up. That's why I think this film means so much, because it keeps happening again and again. [We must] learn how to treat each other better and stop judging one another just because we're different. It's not just a black-and-white thing. It's a people thing."
On Tuesday, Jordan and director
“Fruitvale Station” is hardly the first feature film to bump up against real-life events that somehow echo on-screen action. In 2007, the release of
On Saturday, while protesters took to the streets in nearby Oakland to protest Zimmerman’s acquittal, Weinstein Co. emissaries handed out business cards to moviegoers leaving a screening of “Fruitvale Station” at San Francisco’s
On one side was a photo still from "Fruitvale Station" of Jordan and actress Ariana Neal (who plays his daughter in the film) and on the other display copy read: "Commit to end social injustice in the name of Oscar Grant," directing viewers to the movie's website.
Times staff writer Amy Kaufman contributed reporting to this blog post.