Denouement: What Are Multiplexes Gonna Think of “Drive?”

The Projector

As you know, as a regular reader of every post this here site bakes piping hot for you every hour (between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, anyway!), I'm a pretty big fan of "Drive." The movie is unconventional, weird, challenging and, above all, deeply entertaining for people who just love pure cinema, stylishly empty and proud of it. It's an absolute trip. But it's also not for everybody.

Now, ordinarily, I wouldn't care whether something is "not for everybody." (As you might have been able to tell from my "yeah, sorry, no idea what 'Twilight' is about!" post from this morning.) But I was watching the NFL last Sunday, and there were two ads you couldn't miss. One was this nightmare Dr. Pepper ad:

(So, what are we expected to do? Oh, have a good time. How do we do it? Sweet, with Dr. Pepper!)

The other ad? Endless commercials for "Drive," which sort of made it look like it was "Abduction," only with Ryan Gosling instead of Taylor Lautner. The ads -- reasonably so, I suppose -- make it look like a traditional thriller, with lots of cool car chases and fight scenes and pretty girls. "Drive" is nothing if not devised for maximum enjoyment, but I'm not sure your average NFL viewer is quite prepared for what's in store for them. They might be expecting fight scenes. They might not expect a man's brain to be crushed, with the audiences invited to revel in every crunch and splatter.

"Drive," essentially, is a genre art film, but FilmDistrict is releasing it on 2,400 screens this weekend, just 400 fewer than "I Don't Know How She Does It." Is "Drive" going to benefit from 2,400 screens? Are your multiplex audiences, who had never heard of "Straw Dogs" and just decided to pop into the movie with the guy from "The Notebook," possibly going to be ready for this?

You might argue that it doesn't matter. But in these cases, how a movie does in its opening weekend does matter. We think Albert Brooks gives one of our favorite supporting performances in recent years, but if "Drive" collapses its opening weekend, or freaks out the masses into a terrible CinemaScore or something, the movie will be more likely to fall out of the conversation. I guess I'm just a little worried the movie is being asked to do too much, too soon. A staggered release, even if it's just a "genre" movie, might have been the way to go. Put it this way: "Drive" is one of my favorite films of the year so far, and it's opening in a majority of the theaters in this country ... but I'll be very careful which of my friends I'll recommend to see it. I dunno. Feels like a wide release is just asking for trouble.

But if you're reading this site? You, you should go see it. It needs all the help it can get.