The film stars Luke Wilson as an army private who is cryogenically frozen and then thawed out in the year 2505 to find that the future isn’t so bright as it is dumb. It seems that over five centuries the stupid people have out bred the smart ones, making Wilson’s average Joe character the smartest man in America.
After months of being bounced around Twentieth Century Fox’s release schedule, the studio finally released Idiocracy on a paltry 130 screens in seven cities- Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Atlanta, Chicago and Toronto. There were no advanced screenings for critics. There was no discernable advertising outside of a few newspaper ads. Although a trailer for the film is mentioned in a recent Esquire magazine portrait on Judge, it can’t be found online. In fact, the film’s internet presence is virtually non-existent, even on Fox’s own website.
One would suspect from this apparent lack of confidence that Fox had a dog picture on their hands and were looking to dump it quick. However, almost as soon as the film’s first Friday matinee ended reviews started appearing online and they ranged from at the worse mixed and at the best raves. As I write this, the movie even earned a 71% fresh rating over at Rotten Tomatoes.com. Certainly not the disaster one would expect from its apparent treatment by the studio.
So why is it that Fox is giving this as quiet a release as possible? The reviews have been respectable, especially for a summer which gave us such lackluster comedies as You, Me And Dupree and the two Fox releases My Super Ex-Girlfriend and John Tucker Must Die. While Office Space did not perform spectacularly during its initial theatrical run, a release many would argue Fox bungled, it would go on to earn millions for Fox on VHS and in two separate DVD releases. Advertising Idiocracy as being from the director of Office Space certainly sounds as if it would be an effective way of getting people to line up at the box office.
The film’s small release might make sense if this past weekend was just the first step in a multi-week release strategy where Idiocracy would open in further cities as word-of-mouth spread. It’s a strategy currently being employed by Fox’s own Fox Searchlight division for Little Miss Sunshine. However, there’s been no indication that there’s any indication that Fox plans to get this film onto more screens than the initial 130, basically telling fans outside of reasonable driving distance that they’re out of luck.
Maybe Judge is right. Maybe America is getting dumber and the idiots are in charge. It’s already happenedwith Twentieth Century Fox studio executives.