1. Global Audiences and the Current Cinema [chapter]

2020 Screen Traffic  
Canadian comic Jim Carrey took the stage to present the Oscar for Special E√ects. When he reached the podium, he stopped, gave a broad smarmy grin, and shouted, "And how was your weekend? Mine was good! " He then stood back from the microphone with his arms outstretched triumphantly while the crowd erupted with laughter. As oblique as the comment may now appear, the background information necessary to the humor was readily available. Carrey was referring to the opening of his new movie, Liar
more » ... r (Tom Shadyac 1997), the highest-grossing domestic release that past weekend, March 21-23. The film opened wide, which means prints were sent out to thousands of cinemas so they could premiere on the same day across the United States and Canada. Over its first weekend, it took in $31,423,025 at 2,845 theaters. Liar Liar received middling reviews in weekend papers, so no stunning cinematic achievement explains this resounding success. Instead, audience expectations based on the film's ample marketing, the genre of American humanist comedy, and Carrey's own star persona provide reasonable explanations for a box o≈ce smash hit like this one. On the evidence of box o≈ce revenue alone one can conclude that in early spring of that year audiences took Liar Liar as an appropriate weekend leisure option, and that its availability not only in large urban centers but in multiplexes throughout the United States and Canada meant that this assumption could be acted on. And with equal certainty, these box o≈ce receipts tell us nothing of how the film was enjoyed, ridiculed, or made sense of in any manner.
doi:10.1515/9780822384861-003 fatcat:wsxof5l4kfgjdi4orolhs3zxee