'Margaret,' the long-stalled drama starring Anna Paquin, pulls in just 624 moviegoers total


Image Credit: Myles Aronowitz

Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan couldn’t count on moviegoers to show up for his long-delayed drama Margaret, despite having an impressive cast that includes a much younger-looking Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, and Matt Damon.

Lonergan collaborated with the likes of Martin Scorcese on the film — a post-9/11 drama about a 17-year-old New York City high-school student, played by Paquin, who strongly believes she inadvertently played a role in a traffic accident that killed a woman — shooting the picture way back in 2005. After its complicated journey to the big screen, it seems moviegoers lost any interest they once had in his follow-up to the Oscar-nominated You Can Count On Me. Playing on just two screens — Landmark’s indie house theaters in New York and Los Angeles – Margaret earned just $7,500 at the box office in its opening weekend.

While those returns may not sound so dismal at first glance (especially considering the pushed-back project was only playing on two screens), Yahoo!’s movie blog The Projector crunched the numbers and discovered that with an average ticket costing $12, the film, which had 24 total showings and averaged $312.50 per showing over the weekend, only boasted 624 moviegoers. (EW reached out to Lonergan, Paquin, and the studio behind Margaret, Fox Searchlight, but none were immediately available for comment.)

But what exactly was it that kept people away? Plenty of directors have had large gaps of time between their impressive debuts and their follow-ups, so what made Lonergan’s Margaret such a box office disappointment? Was it too unbelievable for moviegoers to see actors we’re all familiar with looking noticeably younger? Or the fact that its disputed running time — a lengthy two-and-a-half-hours — was actually the shortened version of the film? Or was it simply didn’t look worth the wait after six years? (Even critics were blase about the movie, including EW’S Owen Gleiberman who gave it a tepid B- score.)

Whatever the case may be with Margaret, those who spent the past few years trying to get it released can rest easy about one thing: It doesn’t have the worst box office return of all-time. No, that title still belongs to the very little-seen 2006 Katherine Heigl and Tom Sizemore thriller Zyzzyx Road. A movie that was never meant to see the light of day in the first place screened one time a day at one screen at a theater in Dallas. It’s total intake during its run? $30.

Were you one of the few who saw Margaret this weekend, New York or Los Angeles-based PopWatcher? If so, what did you think of it? Was it worth the six-year wait? How many people were in your theater when you saw it? But, what about you other PopWatchers? What was the emptiest movie you’ve ever attended? Share in the comments section below?

Read more:
‘Margaret’ review
Kenneth Lonergan’s ‘Margaret’ finally gets release date
‘Margaret’ trailer: Kenneth Lonergan’s second film, with Anna Paquin and Matt Damon, finally unveiled

Comments (18 total) Add your comment
  • The Dude

    I’m surprised the author of this post did not highlight the most obvious reason the movie did poorly: absolutely NO buzz. I know quite a few people who have been eagerly waiting for this movie and had NO IDEA it had finally come out. The studio should have done a better job marketing the film…given it’s length and subject matter, I wouldn’t anticipate a huge opening weekend, but the only ad for the film I saw was a poster put online that I never saw on a billboard or in a theater. This movie could have done a lot better if somebody actually promoted it.

    • Mark

      Absolutley Agree. I only knew this movie was coming out because I am a film buff and followed the progress of this movie. There was nothing whatsoever done to promote this film or even make the public aware of it. The fact that it only made $7,000 or so shouldn’t be a surprise. How could a movie be considered a flop when it never even had a chance to begin with.

  • Vickie

    Who can go see a movie they don’t know about? No publicity, no talk show appearances, only 2 screens. If they were going to bury this movie, why bother releasing it.

    • LMAO


    • Woot

      Precisely, the studio was obviously fed up with the movie. A trailer and poster weren’t released until recently, and there were absolutely no ads. I knew it was coming out this weekend, because I have been following it.. but I don’t live in NYC or LA.

  • Lindsay

    Lonergan had ONE movie out and that was almost a decade ago. Plus, You Can Count on Me was an independent movie, not surprised not a lot of people have any idea who he is. Maybe if this movie had came out in 2006 things might have been different

  • Elsa Sanchez

    Margaret was such a promising project with a stellar cast. It is unfortunate that after years of delays and only getting a limited release, the critics hated it and no one saw it.

  • Monty

    How about the fact that the film (without any aformentioned buzz) was released in 2 cities, meaning that anyone interested in seeing that movie was hopefully contained to about a 30 minute radius of the two theaters.

  • Woot

    “couldn’t count on moviegoers” am I reading too much into that wording or is that a play on Lonergan’s other film “You Can Count on Me?”

  • TD Sims

    The trailer was boring and dated. I’ve not seen a single print ad or commercial about it. In fact, I think the title is boring and could be a movie about anything! Even the poster looks straight-to-DVD. Lonergan shot himself in the foot with this one… or rather Fox Searchlight shot him in the foot for us.

  • Mel

    They should be proud the movie did 7.500… but is studio’s fault. First they don’t let the director made his own cut because it had no possibilities in the box office and when they choose a cut that nobody wants they don’t promote it, which with that cast was an easy thing. The movie flopped because they didn’t even try. The worst thing is that Anna Paquin and J. Smith-Cameron terrific work will pay their mistake

  • czj1

    Yea, I (like many others) had not heard anything about this movie-not a drop

  • Ty

    Zyzzyx road was never meant to be released though..so a big difference. It was not even publicized. It was always meant to be for DVD / TV release and made several million from that.

  • bam bam

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting this film ever since it went into production. If it had been playing anywhere near me, I would have definitely seen it opening weekend.
    Unfortunately, I’ll probably have to wait until DVD at this point since F-S is unlikely to widen its run.

  • kja

    I would love to see the movie – however, I can’t travel 3000 miles to LA to view it! Considering it had no publicity and the fact that it was shown in only 2 cities – what else would you expect.

  • John

    Had I been able to FIND where Margaret was playing, anywhere on the planet, I would have gone to see it.
    It was impossible to find this information out, and the studio wonders why so few saw it….HELLO.

  • troppmann

    Number 1: I thought it was brilliant. Number 2: I went because of the 5 – star review in Time Out NY. Not all critics hated it, obviously. The last 20 minutes grope a bit for an ending, but there is so much that is good about it, and quite a lot that is GREAT about it.

  • AbathaG

    Magnificent. I am so glad I saw this movie during its fleeting run here. It is an amazing movie and I loved every minute of it. Most people did not know it was ever released because for some reason the advertising and pr for this seemed to be non-existent. A shame, it is a masterful work and one of the best movies I’ve seen, ever; such a pleasure in a sea of glossy glitzy amped-up fake plot movies. I hope the director gets to release a DVD of his cut, at least. I want to see his version.

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