Perhaps it is ironic that movie writer-director
Bill Bindley came up with the name Madison Miracle Productions when making
the movie Madison back in 1999. For many hydroplane racing
fans who have waited six long years to see the movie appear on the silver
screen, it may indeed seem like a miracle when it finally happens.
But miracles do happen, and Bindleys quest to see his independent
film hit the big time is drawing near. MGM has purchased the rights to
release the movie and plans a limited showing in six to 10 cities on April
22. And this time, it looks like it will really happen.
Although MGM has yet to post the movie in the upcoming movies
listing on its Internet website, the movie has been mentioned in an online
cinema trade website to which many movie theater operators subscribe.
Ohio Theatre owners Tony and Laura Ratliff said that for the first time
they have seen the movie listed in the online trade publication, Independent
Marketing Edge. MGM has said expanding its release schedule nationally
would depend on the success of the initial showings, so many of those
associated with the movie or the sport want to see the film generate as
much publicity buzz as possible.
by Don Ward
another sidewalk star in the making
in front of Madsons Ohio Theater?
It did not help that Mel Gibsons movie, The Passion of the
Christ, starring actor Jim Caviezel, was passed over by The Academy
of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for a major award, but the film
did garner nominations for cinematography, makeup and musical score. Since
making Madison, Caviezel has become a big Hollywood star in
his own right. That can only help sell this independent film, co-written
by two brothers from Indianapolis.
Caviezel, Jake Lloyd, Mary McCormack, Bruce Dern and Paul Dooley star
in the Madison story that loosely follows the real life 1971
Gold Cup victory by Miss Madison driver Jim McCormick. It was shot on
location in Madison in the summer and fall 1999, including race scenes
filmed during that years Madison Regatta festival. Additional filming
took place in Indiana and on the West Coast.
Since the films premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January
2001, two distributors had contracted to release the film only to be acquired
in larger sales, scuttling distribution plans.
A spring release could also help the movies popularity by coming
out prior to the 2005 Unlimited hydroplane racing season, which begins
Tony Steinhardt, an officer with Madison Regatta Inc., traveled to Atlanta
in late January to attend two private showings of the movies final
cut to members of the American Power Boat Association. He said the organization
hopes the movie will help revive interest in the sport at a time when
it is emerging from perhaps its most embattled season in a long time.
The circuit has new owners and is struggling to field enough race boats
to stage a competitive schedule.
Weve waited a long time to see this movie come out, and when
it does, its going to do wonders for the sport, said Steinhardt,
who served as a technical adviser on the film and was part of the real
life racing crew in 1971.
Back in Madison, meanwhile, city officials are scrambling to find enough
money and in-kind donations to help put on a big party worthy of Hollywoods
jet set. They are considering a VIP reception and private showing on April
15, with a public showing on a large outdoor screen on April 16. Thats
one week before the film is scheduled to be released in theaters nationally.
Another preview party is being planned in Seattle.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and if we do it right,
Madison could see a boon in tourism and exposure for a long time to come,
said Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison Area Convention and
Visitors Bureau. She added that if the city can pull it off, theres
a chance it would attract national media, such as Entertainment
That would be huge for Madison and for the movie, Lytle said.
Betsey Vonderheide, special projects administrator for Madison Mayor Al
Huntington, has a list of to do items for pulling off the
celebration. It includes a $20,000 price tag to set up a large outdoor
movie screen at the foot of Broadway and Vaughn Drive, where the public
could come to watch the movie in a party atmosphere. It also includes
another $10,000 to $20,000 to hold a one night VIP reception on Main Street
in front of the Ohio Theatre, where the movie would be shown on both screens
simultaneously in two showtimes of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The two viewing rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs, at the Ohio Theatre
can hold about 500 people combined, so invitations to the reception would
be limited to only 1,000 people, Lytle said.
This red carpet event may include appearances by some of the
primary actors, such as Jim Caviezel, Mary McCormack and Bruce Dern, if
local officials can figure out a way to pay their way to Madison. The
movies production team, including Bindley, back in Los Angeles says
it would cost around $18,000 to fly the three actors to Madison in First
Vonderheide is pulling all stops and running through her Rolodex of Madison
executives in search of another way to get these actors in town, perhaps
via private jet.
Weve got to find a way to do this up big because you dont
get this kind of opportunity very often, Vonderheide said.
Indeed, its been 46 years since the last major movie came out featuring
Madison as the setting. Filmed in fall 1958, Some Came Running
in 1959 starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine and earned
five Academy Award nominations. Five years ago, a bronze and granite Hollywood-type
star was created in their honor on the sidewalk in front of the Ohio Theatre.
Could another star be on the way?
So far, the plans for launching the movie Madison are simply
a wish list of possible activities that are being pursued, and to pull
it off will take a sizable budget, said Lytle, who is working from a to
do list of her own. But if local efforts succeed in producing the
kind of Hollywood-size coming out party and puts Madison,
the movie, and Madison, the city, on the map, then it will truly be what
Bindley called a Miracle Production.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.