01/08/07 — Studio: Movie delay a business decision; 'Dreamgirls' will open here Friday

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Studio: Movie delay a business decision; 'Dreamgirls' will open here Friday

By Lee Williams
Published in News on January 8, 2007 1:48 PM

Moviegoers upset that they could not see a Hollywood blockbuster on Christmas Day will not have much longer to wait.

"Dreamgirls" will open Friday in Wayne County.

The delay, studio executives say, was a business decision -- not a local refusal to show the blockbuster featuring Eddie Murphy, Beyoncé Knowles and Jamie Foxx, which opened in hundreds of theaters across the country Christmas Day, but not at Goldsboro's 12-screen theater.

Some county residents were upset that the movie will not appear here until more than two weeks after its release. And they want to know why.

"We just wonder why Goldsboro didn't get it," said Elaine Alexander of Goldsboro Friday as she exited Premiere Theaters 12. "Why do we have to wait when Raleigh and other areas have it?"

"Dreamgirls" will open Jan. 12, said John Zenner, product manager for the Minnesota-based United Entertainment Corp. that owns Premiere Theaters 12 on Tenth Place.

Set in the early 1960s to mid-70s, "Dreamgirls" follows the rise of a black female singing trio who are seduced by money, power and fame.

Managers at Premiere said they have received multiple calls from angry moviegoers who allege they are racist because the film has not hit their screens, but that's not the case, Hollywood movie executives say.

Nancy Kirkpatrick, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles-based Paramount Pictures Corp. that distributes "Dreamgirls," said it was a company decision to release "Dreamgirls" in waves.

"We're doing a rollout release strategy in order to take advantage of the great reviews and award accolades that the film is receiving," Ms. Kirkpatrick said.

"Dreamgirls" opened in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco Dec. 15. On Christmas Day, the movie opened in 852 theaters across the country, but largely in major metropolitan cities, she said.

"On Jan. 12, we will be in 1,800 theaters and we'll continue to expand until we reach the widest possible audience," Ms. Kirkpatrick said.

Paramount used the success of "Chicago," which amassed $170.6 million at the box office, and the challenges of "The Producers," which garnered only $19.3 million -- to develop its marketing and distribution strategy, she said.

Zenner said he also was disappointed when "Dreamgirls" did not open in Goldsboro, but added that it was not uncommon for some blockbusters to open later.

"It was disappointing that we weren't in the first wave," Zenner said. "This is not the first time this has happened. It happens all the time."

Zenner said it is advantageous from an artistic and business standpoint to bring blockbusters to Goldsboro and there was no ploy to keep movies away.

"They think either we're doing it for some nefarious reason or we are not very bright, but that's not the case," Zenner said.

Some movie executives release a limited number of prints or decide to release a film in major markets, but he urged residents to be patient.

"There's never been a major film that we did not show in Goldsboro," Zenner said. "Sometimes they come two weeks later and if it doesn't do well the movie executives wrap it up and get it ready for DVD."

"Dreamgirls," which has a PG-13 rating, is suitable for adults and children and has a running time of two hours and five minutes.

Residents should come early for the movie, which opens Friday, since the film will likely be shown on one screen, officials said. Premiere's largest room at the theater has 295 seats, officials said. Check the Goldsboro News-Argus for showtimes later this week.