(US - 2014)
Written and directed by Joe Carnahan. Cast: Patrick Wilson, Ed Helms, James Badge Dale, Brooklyn Decker, Jessica Alba, Chris Pine, Ray Liotta, David Hasselhoff, Norman Reedus, Randy Couture, Shaun Toub, Ben Bray, Jason Mantzoukas, Kevin Bigley. (R, 94 mins)
VOD has proven to be a viable distribution channel in our post-SNOWPIERCER world, and Universal is hoping to replicate The Weinstein Company's unintended phenomenon with Joe Carnahan's STRETCH. Abruptly yanked from the schedule just a few weeks before its planned March 2014 release, STRETCH was one of several titles produced by Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions (INSIDIOUS, SINISTER) that distributor Universal decided to leave languishing in limbo on the shelf, along with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY creator Oren Peli's AREA 51 (completed in 2009) and Joe Johnston's thriller NOT SAFE FOR WORK (completed in 2012), among others (STRETCH's time gathering dust was relatively brief, having wrapped in 2013). Universal hasn't said much about the shelving of these films, but it's mainly that the typical Blumhouse production costs $5 million or less, and that Universal balked at spending "$25 to $30 million" to market and distribute the films. It's now the major studio mindset that anything less than a $150 million take at the box office is a flop and movies grossing $30 million domestically simply aren't worth releasing in theaters anymore. There's no such thing as a moderate hit. Something's either a blockbuster or it's a bomb and in that climate, there's no in-between. Outspoken NARC and SMOKIN' ACES director Carnahan wasn't happy with Universal's decision, especially since he had a proven track record after he helmed a blockbuster with 2010's THE A-TEAM and had a decent-sized hit with the critically-acclaimed 2012 Liam Neeson vehicle THE GREY, which "only" grossed $51 million. When Universal shelved STRETCH earlier this year, they allowed Blum the chance to shop it around to other distributors, and when no one bit, the rights reverted back to Universal, and seeing the success of SNOWPIERCER, they opted to release it on VOD rather than dumping it straight-to-DVD. In interviews leading up to STRETCH's VOD debut, Carnahan has more or less taken an "It is what it is" approach to the release, expressing his disappointment that Universal abandoned what he considers his best film thus far. Carnahan is so sure that moviegoers will dig STRETCH that he posted messages on Facebook and Twitter promising that if you didn't enjoy STRETCH and can send him a pic proving you paid to watch it, he'll personally refund your money.
good time, and it's worth a look on a slow night once it hits Redbox or Netflix Instant. Enough of it works that only a shameless asshole would ask Carnahan for their money back, but let's cut through the shit here: it's an offbeat little film that will find a minor cult following and probably enjoy a long future as the kind of movie you stop at while channel-surfing, but it wasn't going to be a hit in theaters.