Brigsby Bear was Criminally Unseen in 2017

Left to right: Kyle Mooney as James and Mark Hamill as Ted. @ Brigsby Bear Movie, LLC., Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Brisgby Bear was a cute heartfelt film that made its debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

The film, directed by Dave McCary, was on my radar from the moment that Sundance released their program lineup.  It’s barely even made $500,000 at the box office and this just isn’t right.  The star-studded cast alone should be enough to draw folks to the box office: Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Claire Danes, Mark Hamill, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Greg Kinnear, Kate Lyn Sheil, Ryan Simpkins, Matt Walsh and Michaela Watkins.  Andy Samberg provided a cameo and Jorma Taccone even directed the film included in the film.

But all of this was not enough to get buts in seats and Hamill was heavily promoting the film on social media.  If I weren’t a film critic and saw a press screening, this alone would have drawn my interest because he’s LUKE-FRICKING-SKYWALKER for crying out loud!  The actor even brings his voice work to the screen when he provides some of the voices of the characters in the Brigsby Bear movie.

At its widest release, Brigsby Bear played in 408 theaters.  Should it have played in more theaters?  For sure.  Sony Pictures Classics paid $5 million for the film during Sundance.  They competed against The Orchard, Netflix, eOne and Universal International.  While giving it a streaming release instead of a theatrical one, Netflix would have at least allowed the film to find an audience.

The Orchard acquired The Hero at Sundance, giving the film a release as wide as 447 theaters but veteran actor Sam Elliott appears to have been a bigger draw than SNL’s Mooney.  The Hero brought in just over $4 million at the box office following its June 9 opening.

There were a handful of comedy films to premiere at Sundance this past year, including The Big Sick, Ingrid Goes West, Landline, and The Little HoursThe Little Hours was easily the most hysterical of the bunch.  Acquired by Gunpowder & Sky, the indie has brought in just over $1.5 million while playing as wide as 114 theaters starting at the end of June.  I enjoyed all of these comedies but Amazon and Lionsgate put a lot of effort into their release of The Big Sick and it shows, not just through the press tour but through the advertising as well.  The film got a very wide release and their effort paid off in the long run.

Brigsby Bear is a heartfelt film that was deserving of a bigger audience this summer.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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