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'Foot Fist' unlikely to find a way here

Lawrence Toppman
Lawrence Toppman is a theater critic and culture writer with The Charlotte Observer.

Concord's Jody Hill shot the martial arts comedy “The Foot Fist Way” in the summer of 2005 and made a mild splash at Sundance five months later.

If you've followed its tortuous progress toward a national release, you're probably wondering when it's going to have its big-screen Charlotte premiere. And the answer is … Never, as far as I know.

At press time, it was supposed to get a limited release today in New York and Los Angeles. According to a Paramount Classics rep, the film may not open anywhere in the Carolinas after that, except for a screen in Chapel Hill. (That's the “hip college town” factor. Yet it's not scheduled to play Winston-Salem, where Hill went to N.C. School of the Arts.)

What does this tell us?

First, Paramount Classics has lost faith in the movie. It's been on the shelf for so long that this distributor doesn't know what to do with it.

Second, that distributors – even smaller companies like this, whose movies require special handling – can't distinguish Charlotte from any other market our size. We're just a dot on the map to Hollywood, indistinguishable from Memphis and Indianapolis. In the old days, releases targeted cities that fit films best. Now, the pattern is “one size fits all,” and we're losing by it.

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