In this technological age, we increasingly seem to find whatever we need to know at our fingertips. However, searching for a United States release date for The Book Thief (20th Century Fox) has been downright confusing… even a tad mysterious.
The Book Thief, which will undoubtedly have a wide international audience, seems to have opened first in select United States theaters. (IMBb lists Germany’s release date as February 13, 2014.) Some sites differed on the States’ initial release dates: Nov. 8 and Nov. 15 were all bounced around. However, on those dates, again, only select theaters had the movie available.
The end screen of The Book Thief trailer running on cable television lists that the film is opening on Nov. 27 “everywhere”. Yet, what does “everywhere” mean?
On Nov. 12, I asked Rouman Cinema, a 10-screen theater in Rhinelander, Wis. (population of less than 8,000 people and serving several surrounding rural areas), via their Facebook page, when the movie would be showing. Rouman Cinema replied, “At this time, it looks like this movie will not be released to smaller markets like ours right away, by studio decision. It’s unclear whether we’ll have an opportunity to play it at a later date.” The cinema promises to add the screen dates/information to their official website as soon as they are made aware what they will be, but as Dec. 14, there is no information on the movie posted for that theater.
Posted a few months ago, the official movie trailer posted on YouTube only proclaims “coming soon”.
So, obviously, smaller theaters will have to wait. But, until when?
The main site, www.thebookthief.com, doesn’t help shed much light on the date confusion. It seems to only include a static page featuring a photograph of the Liesel Meminger character, played by newcomer Sophie Nélisse. She’s clutching a book with images of burning book piles with Nazis and a Flag of German Reich (1935-1945) in the background. The headline above reads, “From the studio that brought you ‘The Life of Pi’. There is a “Get Tickets” search bar to type in your zip code for Fandango or Movie Tickets.com. (When typing in that small city Rhinelander zip code, Fandago says only, “Sorry, this movie is not currently playing in or near the location you have selected.”)
Yet, if you click on a square hanging off by itself on the right-hand side of the page (I’m not using a mobile site, mind you, just Google Chrome on a laptop), you’re taken inside the site. (Clever, I guess, because it’s like the real site is ‘hiding’… think the Hubermann’s house, under the stairs.) The pages tout, “In theaters November.” It includes dramatic background music, and the tabs are: about, video, pictures, poster, discussion guide, and tickets. And the tickets tab — you guessed it — merely leads you back to the main page to search using your zip code in the ‘get tickets’ search box.
Other fans of the novel, bursting with excitement to pay good money to see the film adaptation, are complaining on The Book Thief’s Facebook page that they can’t figure out viewing dates. Plus, they obviously can’t find a showing within 50 miles from their locations. Personally, I’m finding the same frustration in fans of the novel that I’ve spoken with, too.
Even a week before the anticipated Nov. 27 date plastered on the official movie trailer, a banner on 20th Century Fox’s Facebook page also merely indicated that the film is “coming in November”.
Fortunately, other information about the movie is widely available. Movietickets.com offers a synopsis: “Based on the beloved international bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, an extraordinary and courageous young girl sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany. She learns to read with encouragement from her new family and Max, a Jewish refugee who they are hiding under the stairs. For Liesel and Max, the power of words and imagination become the only escape from the tumultuous events happening around them. This film is a life-affirming story of survival and of the resilience of the human spirit.” Furthermore, the site lists the running time as 2 hours, 11 mins and it’s rated PG-13 in 2D.
Directed by Downton Abbey director, Brian Percival, and starring seasoned actors Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and Roger Allam, the missing and contradictory opening dates are baffling.
Publications like Chicago Sun-Times, People and Newsday are giving the movie overwhelmingly positive reviews.
Amazon.com listed under the The Book Thief novel listing that it was to open Nov. 15. But, where other than New York or Los Angeles? A note at the end of the “Jewish News” online article, “‘Book Thief’ author Let Story Go” by Jennifer Goldberg, reads “The Book Thief opens Friday, Nov. 15, exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5 Theatres, 7014 E. Highland Ave., Scottsdale. Call 602-222-4275 or visit harkinstheatres.com.” This was one of the most specific pieces of information out there to date.
What about the rest of the country? You may just have to pre-order the DVD from Amazon. shipping around March 12, 2014. Your order will ship when the DVD is released. (If you want to gift it, you can always pre-order it and make up a little certificate for the gift recipient letting them know it will be coming in the mail sometime in the future.)
The novel was so widely received, the elusiveness of the movie’s release date(s) remains a mystery. The story asked us to imagine what life would be without words. Well, there’s a few missing words in regard to why the highly-anticipated movie, even boasting some well-know actors, wasn’t readily available to the general public.
So, is this an extension of the literary lesson? (Is it part of a marketing ploy?)