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Box office

Little Miss Sunshine initially opened in seven theaters in the U.S. in its first week, earning $498,796.

On July 29, 2006, the first Saturday after its initial limited release, Little Miss Sunshine earned a $20,335 per-theater average gross.

It had the highest per-theater average gross of all the films shown in the United States every day for the first 21 days of its release, until being surpassed by the IMAX film Deep Sea 3D on August 15.

In its third week of release Little Miss Sunshine entered the list of top ten highest grossing American films for the week.

It remained in the top ten until the 11th week of release, when it dropped to 11th place.

The highest position it reached was third, which occurred in its fifth week of release. The largest number of theaters the film appeared in was 1,602.

Internationally, the film earned over $5 million in Australia, $3 million in Germany, $4 million in Spain, and $6 million combined in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Malta.

Little Miss Sunshine has had gross receipts of $59,891,098 in the U.S. and $40,632,083 internationally for a total of $100,523,181.

Home media

The DVD was released on December 19, 2006. In its first week of release, DVD sales totaled $19,614,299 and it was the sixth-most sold DVD of the week. By September 16, 2008 gross domestic DVD sales totaled $55,516,832. Rentals of the film from its release through April 15, 2007 totalled $46.32 million. The film was released on Blu-ray on February 10, 2009

This from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Miss _Sunshine

Roger Ebert Review

August 3, 2006   

The first thing we see are the blue eyes of a little girl staring right at us so intently, it seems she could peer right into our souls. Only she's not looking at us. The reflection in her big plastic glasses reveals she's gazing at a beauty pageant on TV, at the moment the winner is being crowned. She's studying this moment, rehearsing it and rehearsing for it. Just a few seconds into "Little Miss Sunshine" we know it's a movie about dreams -- and illusions.

A couple days later, after an eventful 700-mile journey with her family in a vintage VW van from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, the girl's dream at last appears within reach. They approach the Ramada Inn where the pageant is being held, they can see the building from the freeway -- it looks close enough to touch, but they can't find the exit that will actually get them there. That moment has a lot to say, not only about the illusive, ever-shifting concrete landscape of Southern California, where you always seem to be moving down some predefined course but never quite arriving -- and about the elusive nature of those American Dreams we all chase, the detours we follow -- and the roads we don't.

A gentle family satire and a classic American road movie, "Little Miss Sunshine" harks back to the anti-establishment, countercultural comedies of the 1970s such as "Smile" or "Harold and Maude" -- satirical fairy tales that preached the virtues of nonconformity over the superficiality of conventional American values.

"Little Miss Sunshine" shows us a world in which there's a form, a brochure, a procedure, a job title, a diet, a step-by-step program, a career path, a prize, a retirement community, to quantify, sort, categorize and process every human emotion or desire. Nothing exists that cannot be compartmentalized or turned into a self-improvement mantra about "winners and losers."

The opening montage introduces us to the Hoover family one at a time: Olive (Abigail Breslin) is the aspiring beauty queen. Her dad Richard (Greg Kinnear) is an astonishingly unsuccessful motivational speaker. He's pathologically obsessed with winning because he's never tasted it himself. Olive's mom Sheryl (Toni Collette) values family above all else, and her nerves are fraying over trying to hold this one together.

Grandpa (Alan Arkin), Olive's coach, spends hours working on her dance routine with her. Grandpa has been kicked out of a retirement home, for sleeping around and for snorting heroin. His philosophy is that you'd have to be crazy to do smack when you're young, but when you get old, you'd be crazy not to.

Uncle Frank (Steve Carell), Sheryl's brother, is the Number One Proust scholar in the world, and has just attempted suicide because he fell in love with a graduate student who dumped him for the Number Two Proust scholar in the world. And Olive's teenage brother Dwayne (Paul Dano) hasn't spoken in nine months. He's not depressed, exactly; he's been reading Nietzsche and has taken a vow of silence while training to get into flight school. Plus, he hates everybody.

After our initial introductions, "Little Miss Sunshine" does something quite extraordinary: It gives us a single, nearly 20-minute scene built around a family dinner of takeout fried chicken in which we learn everything about Hoover family dynamics. It's a daring move that establishes the movie's characters and comedic tone, and then ... road trip!

You just won't see a better acted, and better cast, movie than "Little Miss Sunshine." These actors (and their directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris) grasp how unspoken reactions can be funnier than dialogue or punchlines, and how pain can be the source of the most satisfying comedy.

All the actors play the emotions straight and true. Dano, his dead black eyes obscured by thick bangs and set into a pale face that seems to be imploding with teen alienation and disgust, just has to tilt his head almost imperceptibly to bring down the house. Kinnear, a fine comic actor, gets the opportunity to let whole scenes play out wordlessly across his face -- having conversations in his head while driving, or trying to figure out an appropriate response to the talent portion of the Little Miss Sunshine contest.

Carell is a miracle in pink-and-blue-striped socks. He creates a character whose pain surrounds him like a hard plastic bubble. And the less he seems to do, the funnier he gets. He makes the name "Nietzsche" (which he pronounces crisply as "Neet-chah") inexplicably hilarious. And how to describe the way Uncle Frank runs? It's an intellectual run --- performed as if the act of running had been studied, broken down into its component parts, and then reassembled -- all analysis, no grace. It's almost inhumanly human, and pricelessly funny. But it's not just a sped-up silly walk, it's an authentic expression of character.

Marketing in Australia  

Fox Searchlight released Little Miss Sunshine on some 100 screens throughout Australia on October 12, employing a grassroots campaign that it hopes will translate to at least $5m in box office returns. As with all Fox Searchlight products, the company relied heavily on this film's ability to generate positive word of mouth.

"Our audiences are happy to let the court of public opinion decide,"Fox Searchlight's manager, Paul de Carvalho, says.

Due to the subject matter and the varying ages of the cast, Fox Searchlight decided that it would be impossible to target all of the film's different demographics using traditional marketing methods.

The film had a buzz after it screened at the highly-regarded Sundance Film Festival in January, so the company decided to build on this interest. The momentum continued to grow once the film was given the audience award at the Sydney Film Festival in June. Fox Searchlight started screening sneak previews of the film four weeks before its release date.

It ran free previews for three weeks before the release which were accessed by some 30,000 people. The weekend before the film opened, consumers were offered paid previews and around 30,000 took up the opportunity.

For de Carvalho this proved an effective way to maintain the public's interest in the film and favourable early reviews also helped his cause. As the film's storyline was deemed difficult to explain easily, and the title is one that would not appeal to all age groups, word-of-mouth recommendations appealed to de Carvalho.

A uniform marketing strategy to reinforce the image of the VW bus, the colour yellow and the strong ensemble cast was employed across all supporting materials. De Carvalho says that while he did use the US template to some degree, there was a lot of scope to localise a large component including posters, flyers, Avant Cards and press ads.

This from:


The above from:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_6U SFaYxyeUC&pg=PA248&lpg=PA248&dq=l ittle+miss+sunshine+marketing+campai gn&source=bl&ots=3K43yvziS9&sig=EGV hj5clejGDcTOlBk0bAcYX1M8&hl=en&sa= X&ei=YGVXU9q1OMziO9CQgRA&ved=0C FwQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=little%20mi ss%20sunshine%20marketing%20campa ign&f=false

If a so called ‘indie’ film makes over $100 million at the box office does this mean than that film is no longer independent anymore but now part of the mainstream?

Such was the case with ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, a film that declared itself as being independent, showing up at the Sundance Film Festival to immediate acclaim and then being suddenly snapped up by Fox Searchlight Pictures in an expensive distribution deal.

It surprised the industry even more when the film went on to make over $100 million. ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ was deemed a sleeper hit as the film relied greatly on positive word of mouth and critical reception to generate interest.

Many critics were sceptical about the film’s claim to being an independent production when considering how the term ‘indie’ today is used as a cynical marketing tool by the studios to promote ‘alternative’ cinema to the YouTube generation.

These days, to label a film as an independent can be somewhat of a risky proposition when you think about how audiences have become intellectually self aware of the manipulative nature of marketing, and how studios repeatedly re-appropriate film terms so that they come to stand for something entirely oppositional and guided by commercial motivations rather than artistic ones.

Even today the term ‘independent cinema’ usually conjures up characteristics we associate with world cinema films; low budgets, location shooting, improvised dialogue, intense characterisation, specialist audiences.

Any of the films directed by John Cassavetes tend to be singled out as definitive illustrations of what a real and authentic American independent film should look and sound like

Aside from the questions regarding the film’s status as an independent film, husband and wife team, Dayton and Farris, take great joy and warmth in making ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ into one of the best road movies in recent years. Though no one film nation can lay claim to the creation of the road movie genre in its entirety, American cinema and Hollywood in particular have been hugely influential in helping to develop conventions, themes and imagery that have become an intrinsic part of how we perceive the genre today.

Besides, the vastness of the American landscape continues to be a source of inspiration for many road movies, with the narrative of the endless journey and the untold destination working as a means of driving forward an episodic story in which we encounter an alternate reality, one that seems to offer some degree of comfort and escape from the trappings of a deeply consumerist society.

This from:

http://omarsfilmblog.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/little -miss-sunshine-dir-jonathan.html

A “feel good” indie

The niche positioning of Little Miss Sunshine at the edges of the genre of so-called “smart cinema” also contributed to its commercial success.

“Smart cinema” emerged in the 1990s and is characterized by irony, black humor, fatalism, relativism, and occasional nihilism (Sconce 429).

This extremely broad mode of cinematic practice marks an interesting shift in the strategies of “art cinema,” defined by Jeffrey Sconce as “movies marketed in explicit counter-distinction to mainstream Hollywood fare as ‘smarter’, ‘artier’, and more ‘independent’” (Sconce 429). Sconce traces smart cinema back to the mainstream success of television shows such as Seinfeld (1989-1998), South Park (1997-ongoing) and The Simpsons (1989-ongoing), which were predicated on a deeply ironic, critical tone.

This prevailing ironic culture, Sconce argues, gave rise to the contemporary smart cinema, in which dark, clever comedies and disturbing dramas showcased disaffection and ennui within a broadly ironic frame, as typified by films such as Napoleon Dynamite (2004) and the work of Wes Anderson and Todd Haynes.

Part of a most interesting article to be found here:


Playing with Stereotypes

Imagine that you are involved at the pre-production of the film and you’ve been given a list of characters. First on the list is ‘Grandpa’.

How would you have imagined the character?

Was he anything like the character we meet in the film? Did you find any of his behaviour or attitudes shocking? Can you think of other characters from comedies that you’ve seen that have a shocking aspect to their character?

Olive provides a divided family with a focus. Her curiosity and innocence are an essential aspect of her character. Before the family leave for California we see them all having dinner together. The divide we see during the dinner sequence not only helps to establish character information but also reinforces her age and the ideas that the other grown up family members have about what is appropriate for a child.

Key questions:

Think about this sequence and about the different situations that are discussed and how they are explained or avoided for Olive’s benefit.

What else does this scene tell us about the other members of the family?

Is the Hoover family a typical representation of a modern family unit?

During the trailer we learn that Olive has been able to go to the competition because another contestant has been disqualified because of ‘...something to do with diet pills’.

Is Olive a typical contestant for a beauty pageant?

Later in the film we see the family at a café, Olive orders ice cream. How does her father respond?

What is the reaction of the rest of the family? Olive later asks Miss California at the pageant ‘Do you eat ice cream?’ to which she replies, ‘Yes. My favourite is Chocolate Cherry Garcia. Except technically I think it’s a frozen yogurt.’ Why do you think Olive asks?

How important do you think her family are in influencing her?

Do you think these same pressures would be applied to Dwayne?

This from:

http://www.filmeducation.org/pdf/film/LittleMissS unshine.pdf


Delving deeper into the concept of societal norms, theorist Robin Wood described the relationship between film and the values and assumptions of dominant ideology.  In his article, “Ideology, Genre, Auteur,” Wood comprises a list of concepts which “is not intended to be exhaustive or profound, but simply to make conscious . . . concepts with which we are all perfectly familiar” (Wood, 593).  Of Wood’s twelve concepts, Little Miss Sunshine portrays at least five of them: marriage, the ideal male, settled man, the ideal female, and the concept of America as the place where everyone can be happy. Little Miss Sunshine’s portrayal of these concepts fractures and bends ideological expectations.

This from a longer article which deals with ideological representations:

http://cinesthesiajournal.wordpress.com/issues /post-modernism-and-ideological-essays/little-miss-america/

Some thought provoking questions here:

http://www.damaris.org/content/content.php? type=1&id=373