MGM announces official release
of movie 'Madison' on April 22

Premiere party plans for city
are still unfolding; buzz is on



(March 2005)

Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

 If all goes according to plan, Madison, Ind., will be the site of the world premiere on April 16 for the movie “Madison.” MGM Studios on Feb. 25 officially announced the film’s limited national release April 22 in 15 to 20 U.S. cities.
The film, shot on location in Madison in late 1999 and 2000 in other cities, captures the true-life story of the late Jim McCor-mick’s victory in the 1971 Gold Cup Unlimited hydroplane race before the hometown fans. It stars actor Jim Caviezel (“The Passion of Christ,” The Count of Monte Cristo”) as McCormick. Jake Lloyd plays the young Mike McCormick, Jim’s son. Seymour, Ind., native and rock star John Mellencamp provides the narration throughout. And Madison singer Rusty Bladen has a song in the film, his own “Ride That River.”

Jim Caviezel

Photo provided

Jim Caviezel (standing on boat) plays the late Jim McCormick in the movie “Madison.”

The premiere party being planned at Madison’s Ohio Theater is still tentative, city official say. But all efforts are under way to bring in some of the actors and others who worked on the independent film. Caviezel may not be able to make it for the premiere because he will be busy shooting a film in April.
“It was truly a pleasure to work with Jim Caviezel – he’s an actor who is as timeless as the true story which inspired the film,” said Bindley, 42, an Indianapolis native who co-wrote the script with his brother, Scott, 39.
Those actors expected to attend include Jake Lloyd, who lives in the Indianapolis area; Frank Knapp, who lives in Tennessee; Mark Fauser of Marion, Ind.; and Brent Briscoe of Los Angeles. Since the filming of “Madison,” actress Mary McCormack has risen to fame as a regular on the NBC TV series “West Wing.” McCormack, Bruce Dern and Paul Dooley will be invited to attend, officials say.
“I’m just waiting to hear when they confirm the date of the premiere,” said Fauser, a screenwriter and actor who plays Miss Madison race team member Travis. “I believe in this movie and I’m so proud of what the Bindley brothers have done, and then to see it all the way through. It gives all of us screenwriters hope.”
Madison City Projects Administrator Betsey Vonderheide said the initial idea for a public showing on a large screen at the foot of Broadway has been dropped because of the exorbitant costs. The premiere will likely be limited to 1,000 people on Saturday night, she said, although officials are exploring the possibility of more screenings on Sunday, April 17.

Carl Amari

Carl Amari

The MGM press release reads: “In the inspiring tradition of screen favorites such as ‘Rocky,’ ‘Hoosier’ and ‘Breaking Away,’ the movie ‘Madison’ is a true slice of Americana. High-speed, heart-stopping thrills meet pride, perseverance and an all-or-nothing shot at greatness on the banks of the Ohio River town called Madison.”
Indianapolis initially had the most screens showing the film that first weekend, officials said. In recent weeks, the number of cities to get the film has significantly grown. Other Indiana towns now being considered include Columbus, Marion, Terre Haute and Evansville. Elsewhere, the film is to be shown in Louisville, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York. Other cities being considered include San Diego, Cincinnati, Dayton, St. Louis, Mo., Fort Myers, Fla, Charlotte, N.C., and Owensboro, Ky. Other cities are being considered as well.
“It will be a lot of fun to bring the film out in the city where it was made,” said Carl Amari, a Chicago filmmaker who financed and executive produced the 94-minute film. “We plan to get all the investors and people who helped make the film together for one big party. They’ve done a wonderful job finishing the film, and I think people are going to love it. Now we just need to get the word out at the grassroots level.”
Even those who saw the rough cut of the film at the 2001 Sundance and Heartland Film Festivals are in for a treat, Amari said. The film has been polished and improved, he said, and it now has a professional score behind it, created by the 100-piece Prague Philaharmonic Orchestra.
A soundtrack of the pop songs used in the movie is also planned, including Bladen’s.
To generate grassroots support so the film can expand to more theaters, MGM has tapped the marketing expertise of Motive Entertainment, the same company that helped make Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Polar Express” huge box office successes.

Bill Bindley

Bill Bindley

Several private screenings were held for “key interest groups,” Amari said, to build a buzz for the family oriented film. These include the newly formed American Boat Racing Association, which now operates the Unlimited hydroplane circuit, the National Marine Manufacturing Association, and for religious and family oriented groups.
“We have a film that makes people feel good, and we want to capitalize on that,” Amari said. “This is a movie that hits them in their sweet spot, so we’re going for word-of-mouth support by targeting these key groups. It’s called gorilla marketing, where you get out there and shake hands.”
A private screening was held Feb. 18 in Indianapolis and another Feb. 25 in Chicago. The latter included 25 faith community leaders, Amari said. The film will be shown in March at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., a Chicago suburb.
Tony Steinhardt of Madison was on the original race team in 1971 and provided technical assistance on the film. He said the reaction to the film at ABRA screenings has been “phenomenal. I’ve seen emotional reaction and heard really good comments.” He said the film would likely do wonders for the city, county and state of Indiana in terms of tourism.
Several top movie industry reviewers have given the film high marks. “Good, old-fashioned entertainment in the best sense of the term,” said “Entertainment Tonight’s” Leonard Maltin. “Classic, quality filmmaking’s expertly realized. Superb,” said the Sundance Film Festival’s Geoffrey Gilmore. “Warm and absorbing, in the tradition of ‘Breaking Away.’ I highly recommend it,” said NBC movie critic Jeffrey Lyons.
The movie is being listed among the upcoming films on the Showcase Cinemas website. The site lists the film in its schedule at its Preston Highway and Gene Snyder Freeway cinema complex. It is expected to be shown at Madison’s Great Escape Theater on the hilltop. The film has received a “PG” rating for “mild language and sports peril.”

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.


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