Sunday, June 16, 2024

After 18 Month Wait, “The French Dispatch” Will Dispatch To Just 50 Theaters Next Week


Sacre bleu!

Next Friday, after a year and a half wait, Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” will open only in 50 theaters.

This is not good news.

Searchlight Pictures, formerly Fox, now Disney, did the same thing to “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” That movie is a dead lox at the box office, with just $3 million in the till.

The studio knew there was no audience, and they were right. The only salvageable element of “Tammy Faye” is Jessica Chastain’s Oscar worthy performance.

Now we come to “The French Dispatch.” Audience members have walked out of screenings. Reviewers have actually said they hated it. Hated.

I saw it earlier this week, and Anderson’s beautifully art directed three part omnibus of vignettes lacks coherence. And a plot. And consistent characters. The first installment isn’t bad, but the next two — even with Timothee Chalamet’s hair styled like a souffle — go nowhere fast.

There are no Oscar possibilities for the actors, the best of whom are Adrien Brody and Benicio del Toro. Even though Jeffrey Wright is excellent, his chapter is a trip into a maze.

Releasing into 50 theaters will give “The French Dispatch” a shot at building word of mouth in art houses. But Disney would be better off putting it on streaming, writing it off, and moving on to the next Anderson concoction.

PS Elisabeth Moss, pictured in the poster, is barely in the movie. Maybe she’ll turn up in a longer DVD version. I hope so.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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