Montanans Like Brokeback
Another feel good story. This story brought a smile to my face. I visited all of these towns on my summer road trip and met some amazing people in the beautiful state of Montana:
For months now, a chorus of televised talking heads has been predicting that the vast majority of Americans wouldn't stand -- let alone stand in line -- for "Brokeback Mountain." Bill O'Reilly, who memorably promised that red-staters would stay home, predicted, "They're not going to go see the gay cowboys in Montana. I'm sorry. They're not going to do it."
But "Brokeback Mountain" isn't just playing in red states like Montana; it has been doing quite well, even before it became the Oscar front-runner this week.
In Missoula, Mont., a town of just under 60,000, the film has been a big hit since it opened at the cavernous Wilma Theater on Jan. 6, grossing $33,006, cumulatively, in its first four weekends there. A representative for Focus Features calls the movie's performance in Missoula "amazing." And Bill Emerson, who manages the 85-year-old theater, confirms that "Brokeback's" draw has been "one of our best starts for a movie we've ever had."
In Kalispell, a stronghold of conservatism in the northwest part of the state, the film opened last Friday and took in $3,656 at the box office its first weekend, a draw Focus says it's "very happy" with. In the equally conservative ski town of Whitefish, where the film also opened on Friday, it was the weekend's top draw, taking in $2,312 and beating out "Big Momma's House 2," "Nanny McPhee" and "Underworld," the top three national box-office draws. And a rep for the company calls the film's performance in Billings, a traditional community in central Montana, where it has taken in $26,065 since opening on Jan. 13, "absolutely phenomenal." "Brokeback" is also doing well in Great Falls and Bozeman, and last weekend opened at No. 1 in Helena.
One of the first people to step up to the box-office window to see "Brokeback Mountain" when it opened last Friday at the Strand, an old single-screen movie house in Kalispell, was a gray-haired man who would identify himself only as Fishbah.
"What the hell, a couple cowboys? They've got the choice of sheep, cows and cowboys -- which would you choose?" he mused.