The two gay documentaries released last week struggled to find a sizable audience over the weekend. The American Experience episode turned feature documentary, Stonewall Uprising (above), played in 4 theaters with an okay per screen average of $3,932, while 8: The Mormon Proposition played on 16 screens with an average of $2,660. For comparison, the Joan Rivers documentary opened a week ago on 7 screens with an average of $23,479. This weekend it quadrupled its screen count to 28 and averaged $8,079. Earlier this year the Banksy doc Exit Through the Gift Shop opened on 8 screens and averaged $21,345. (As for narrative features, the comedy Cyrus debuted Friday on 4 screens with an average of $45,429, almost catching the year's highest, Polanski's The Ghost Writer.)
For whatever complicated social / economic / mystical reasons, exclusively lgbt-themed works in film and books lately are failing to attract significant numbers of customers. Maybe it's the long tail phenomenon, maybe it's a form of post-gay indifference, or maybe in this case the potential audience, like all Americans, are burnt out on bad news right now. Nevertheless, supporting lgbt work is the only way more lgbt work gets made.
Happily, my favorite movie of 2010 so far, I Am Love, the ravishing film starring Tilda Swinton as a misplaced Russian who married into an oppressively elegant Italian dynasty and lunges for real love outside, appeared on 4 screens earning a nice $15,188 average. I'm not linking to the rave review from Anthony Lane in this week's New Yorker because it's wall to wall spoilers, but I will say there's an enchanting small but crucial queer subplot. This spring when I saw the director interviewed at Lincoln Center, he said it's his attempt at Buddenbrooks. If there's something deeply wrong with you and Tilda herself isn't enough to get you there, the movie's sets, clothes, music, and men are exceptional.