Well, one thing is for sure: Cable news viewers like films about killer whales a lot more than ones about pro-nuclear power. CNN’s airing last night of the documentary Pandora’s Promise delivered a wet 345,000 total viewers in its 9-11 PM time slot and just 145,000 among adults 25-54. The heavily promoted Robert Stone-directed film was way, way down from the 1.36 million that CNN Films’ Blackfish drew in total viewers in the same slot two weeks beforehand. Promise also got less overall viewers than the film about keeping killer whales in captivity at marine theme parks pulled in just the key demo. Winning the time slot over CNN’s cable news rivals, Blackfish had 472,000 among the 25-54s when it aired October 24. CNN Films acquired the nuke-themed Pandora’s Promise in April this year after it screened at the Sundance Film Festival and had a theatrical run. Such docus as Promise and Blackfish are a part of the network’s attempt to broaden its programming scope — though with mixed results, obviously.
Blackfish, purchased by CNN at Sundance, is the story of a captive performing Orca connected to the deaths of several people and premieres on Thursday at 9 PM ET. The film traces the 39-year history of killer whales in captivity leading up to a 2010 incident in which an experienced Sea World trainer was killed by the 12,000-pound orca, Tilikum, who had previously been associated with the deaths of two other trainers. Orcas are thought to be one of the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom, and the film details the consequences of holding them captive to perform for the amusement of spectators, while subjecting them, CNN said, to a “much darker existence when the show is over.” Pandora’s Promise features the rift within the environmental movement created when some environmental experts take a journey of “defection” in the debate over climate change, and now support nuclear energy; it premieres November 7 at 9 PM ET. Oscar-nominated director Robert Stone examines how fears of “nukes” may have extended the era of fossil fuels, perilously accelerating the pace of climate change as the global demand for energy soars, particularly in the developing world, and takes viewers inside the exclusion zone around Fukushima and into the area of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Blackfish’
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘The Bling Ring’, ‘Pandora’s Promise’, ‘So Young’, ‘The Stroller Strategy’, ‘In The Fog’
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Sofia Coppola‘s Cannes Un Certain Regard opener The Bling Ring will have its chance to shine this weekend as the real-life inspired feature hits theaters. A24 will open the film in limited release, joining a number of Specialties going up against Man Of Steel. Also offering an alternative beginning Friday is doc Pandora’s Promise by Oscar-nominee Robert Stone, who gives a sobering reassessment of nuclear power. China Lion will open China’s biggest homegrown box office hit of the year, So Young in a trio of North American cities as it assesses its prowess on this side of the Pacific. Also hailing from abroad are France’s romantic comedy The Stroller Strategy from Rialto Premieres and Strand Releasing’s Cannes 2012 feature, In The Fog.
The Bling Ring
Director-writer: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Nancy Jo Sales (Vanity Fair article)
Cast: Emma Watson, Katie Chang, Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga, Israel Bourssard, Claire Julien
Sofia Coppola came across the real-life story in Vanity Fair that inspired The Bling Ring while on a plane going on vacation. The article, The Suspects Wore Louboutins by Nancy Jo Sales, tells the story about a group of San Fernando Valley fame-obsessed teens who used the Internet to track when celebrities were away from their homes in order to rob them. “After reading the quotes from the kids, I thought it had some of the elements that would make for a good movie,” Coppola said at an event hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center this week.
The Microsoft co-founder’s Vulcan Productions will provide campaign strategy and cash to Pandora’s Promise, the Robert Stone-directed documentary that bowed at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was acquired last month by CNN Films. The cable news network will air it in November after its theatrical release through Abramorama on June 12. Going inside the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan and to Chernobyl, Stone chronicles how nuclear power could provide a solution to climate change, and the personal stories of environmentalists and energy experts who have shifted from being anti-nuclear to favoring the source. Paul Allen and Vulcan president Jody Allen have come aboard as executive producers. Vulcan has employed social action campaigns for films including Girl Rising (2013), This Emotional Life (2010), Judgment Day: Intelligent Design On Trial (2007), Rx For Survival: A Global Health Challenge (2005), and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005).
CNN Films has picked up domestic TV rights to the nuclear power documentary Pandora’s Promise. The cable news network will air the Robert Stone-directed film in November after its theatrical release. Pandora’s Promise made its U.S. debut this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Going inside the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan and to Chernobyl, the Oscar-nominated Stone chronicles how nuclear power could provide a solution to climate change and the personal stories of environmentalists and energy experts who have shifted from being anti-nuclear to favoring of the source. The deal with CNN Films was negotiated by Dan Cogan of Impact Partners and Andrew Herwitz, president of the Film Sales Company on behalf of the filmmakers. Abramorama is handling the film’s domestic theatrical distribution.