Film: On the hunt for a Dyer Britcom
It made £602 in its first week, has been called 'as funny as leprosy' and you can’t see it anywhere. Can Simon Usborne seek out Run for Your Wife?
When it emerged that Run for Your Wife had earned just £602 at the box office on its opening weekend, days after a critical mauling as savage as any in recent memory, I decided I had to see it. Could the film version of the 1980s play really be “as funny as leprosy”? Who else would buy a ticket?
Google listed four London cinemas showing the film, all Odeons. But the Odeon website showed just one screening in Britain: 11am at Swiss Cottage in north London. I packed my laughing gear before noticing the showing was reserved for over-60s. Free tea and biscuits would be provided but ID might be required. I’m 30 so could only set about finding more senior eyes in the audience to report back.
John Underwood had been trying for days to review the movie for the Best for Film website. Undeterred by the age restriction, the 23-year-old talked his way in and later described the scene: “There were 14 people, the biscuits were custard creams.”
The film, starring Danny Dyer as a bigamist taxi driver, would add a significant £56 to its box office (tickets were £4). But then, disaster: “After 20 minutes a man came in to say there were technical hitches,” Underwood says. “As we waited, a chap in the front row stood up to promote his theatre group’s read-through of an Ivor Novello play.” Ten minutes later, the screening was cancelled.
My resolve only strengthened, I searched for future screenings. Odeon and Empire cinemas, apparently the only chains showing the film, listed just 19 in the next week, all of them for seniors (the next is on Tuesday morning at the Colchester Odeon).
Reasons for the dismal takings, beyond the reviews, became increasingly clear. Its opening weekend included sales at just nine cinemas (inexplicably, half of those 100 or so tickets were sold at the Tunbridge Wells Odeon). How can a film have a hope if it’s almost impossible to see?
Charles Gant is film editor at Heat magazine and a box office expert. He reviewed Run For Your Wife for Variety, suggesting high-profile actors who made cameos in the film, including Dame Judi Dench, had perhaps not read the script. He said the film’s opening weekend performance was not a record low, and that cinemas had likely tucked it away in “senior” slots to appeal at least to viewers who might remember the original play.
Odeon’s press office refused to talk about the film, responding only to confirm the Swiss Cottage cock-up. The distributors, Ballpark, blamed bad reviews rather than the limited release for “the whole fiasco”. Danny Dyer’s people did not respond in time so I called Ray Cooney, the 80-year-old director of the film and the play, which ran for nine years in the West End. He admitted to some disappointment about the scale of the release but was remarkably sanguine about his film’s critical reception.
“Now, how long have I been in the business?” he asks. I look it up. Sixty-seven years. He started acting as a teenager and has had 17 plays in the West End. “You just have to shrug your shoulders, don’t you. These senior screenings go amazingly well, you know. They love it! I was at one in Southend for a Q&A and one of the ladies said it was the first time she had sat through a film and laughed all the time.”
What’s the quickest way to Colchester?
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I was raped by another man. And now the Government wants to take away the one thing that saved my life
- 2 Wikipedia edits from inside Parliament removing scandals from MPs' pages, investigation finds
- 3 Preston fan who appeared to snatch Jermaine Beckford's shirt from eight-year-old boy identified and says: 'the truth will come out'
- 4 Johnny Depp facing 10 years in jail for illegally bringing dogs to Australia
- 5 Iran launches anti-Isis cartoon competition 'to expose true nature of Islamic State'
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
Glastonbury lineup 2015: The Women's Institute to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
12 UK stores that sound like the hottest rappers of 2015
Suicide Squad: leaked footage gives us first look at Batmobile chasing Joker through city streets
Never Mind the Buzzcocks axed after 18 years
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote