Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Box Office Failure `Bob Roberts' Shows Limits of Good Publicity

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Box Office Failure `Bob Roberts' Shows Limits of Good Publicity

Article excerpt

By John Horn

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES _ Tim Robbins' timely political satire "Bob Roberts" received a blitz of positive publicity. The national media largely ignored "Enchanted April." Guess which movie has done better at the box office?

Not "Bob Roberts" _ even though it was featured on the magazine covers of Buzz, Interview, Movieline and GQ and has gotten attention on "Today," "The Arsenio Hall Show" and "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno."

The movie has taken in $3.2 million after six weeks of release in North American theaters and is falling quickly. "Enchanted April" has grossed $9.2 million after 11 weeks. Chances are slim the Robbins movie will catch up.

The reasons have much to do with "legs" or staying power in the movie business and the strength of grassots marketing. Studio officials refuse to release the size of their advertising budgets, but one executive who spoke on condition of anonymity said "Bob Roberts" had a budget twice that of "Enchanted April."

The $4 million "Bob Roberts" stars Robbins, who also wrote and directed it. In documentary fashion, it follows folknging senate candidate Roberts, a vague independent politician. The film is especially topical in light of Ross Perot's presidential candidacy.

Besides the cover stories about Robbins and his film, "Bob Roberts" was written about in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Premiere, Esquire, Mirabella and Newsweek. A press junket generated movie interviews with several dozen print reporters and more than 50 television correspondents.

Furthermore, Robbins already was riding the raves from his starring role in the artuse hit "The Player."

It was the kind of gushing publicity few movies receive. And yet, after opening strongly, it faded. What happened?

Some people who worked on the film said the film's fall release date, linked to the election, may have hurt as much as it helped. …

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