Did the contretemps over inaccuracies in “The Hurricane” cripple the film’s chances of being nominated for an Academy Award for best picture? Producer John Ketcham, who spent nine years getting the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter onto the screen, thinks it did.
“I think the movie academy took the cautious approach,” Ketcham said, “and didn’t embrace it.”
Denzel Washington, however, was nominated for best actor for his portrait of the boxer who was wrongly jailed for two New Jersey murders.
Ketcham estimated that a best picture nomination would have been worth an additional $20 million to $30 million at the box office, not to mention additional revenues from video rental and sales. To date, “The Hurricane” has earned nearly $50 million at the box office, domestically.
Reporters who covered Carter’s murder trial have criticized the accuracy of the film. Ketcham acknowledged that he was not trying to make a documentary and that he took dramatic liberties, but has been truthful to the spirit of what happened to Carter and Artis, both of whom were exonerated for the killings after spending years in jail.
Ironically, Disney’s “The Insider,” which got a best picture nod, also was criticized for historical inaccuracies in its look at CBS News’ battle over broadcasting an interview with a tobacco-industry whistleblower.
“‘The Insider’ came full circle,” Ketcham said. “By the time the academy nominations came around, (the criticisms) didn’t matter.”
Ketcham said if any major mistake was made on “The Hurricane,” it was not hawking the film more aggressively to the academy’s members.
“We made the mistake in believing that we had an honorable film, and if we got it out, it would be embraced by the public and the academy membership,” the producer said. “We didn’t mount a ferocious campaign like Miramax did for ‘Cider House Rules.’ We felt they would make their decision based on the content. That is the fair way for a contest to be run.”
“My Dog Skip” is one of those quirky films that naysayers predicted couldn’t be made and if it were, it would go straight to video. Director Jay Russell said they were wrong, and spent nearly three years getting this film about a boy and his precocious dog in a small Mississippi town into America’s movie houses. The tale is based on a memoir of the late writer and editor Willie Morris. The movie opened in just five theaters two in New York and three in Los Angeles and despite mixed reviews had taken in nearly $750,000 as of last week. This weekend it opened in 2,400 theaters nationally.
“We felt there is room for a movie like this and whenever there is a gap to fill in, it surprises people,” said Russell, who is also the film’s executive producer. “We stuck to our guns.”
The $5 million film was financed by Alcon Entertainment, and Warner Bros. agreed to distribute it. What also helped the film go wide nationally may have been the success of “Skip’s” star, Frankie Muniz, who is the star of the Fox TV network’s smash sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle.”
“It sure didn’t hurt,” Russell said.