'Kundun': critical success, box office flop

Publication Date: Wednesday Apr 22, 1998

'Kundun': critical success, box office flop

Movie was one of many upended by 'Titanic'

Though critically acclaimed, "Kundun" did not fare well at the box office.

The $28 million film opened in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day and was one of many films that tried to find its way in the turbulent wake left by "Titanic." The film opened elsewhere around the nation--including at Century 16 in Mountain View--on Jan. 19.

Opening weekend (Jan. 19) brought in $1.62 million in receipts for 429 screens and, through March 29, "Kundun" has grossed $5.532 million. The movie has recently opened in Europe, which will help the bottom line, and "Kundun" is likely to do big video business, since so few people saw it on the big screen.

The film stuck around art houses in San Francisco until earlier this month, when it ended its run at the Opera Plaza.

While it was certainly no cash cow, "Kundun" was a definite critics' favorite.

Richard Corliss of Time Magazine wrote: "... aided by Roger Deakins' pristine camera work and the euphoric drone of Philip Glass' score, (director Martin) Scorsese devises a poem of texture and silences. Visions, nightmares and history blend in a tapestry as subtle as the Tibetans' gorgeous mandalas of sand."

The film was also nominated for several awards, with cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Philip Glass leading the charge. Glass' original score was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar, and it won a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award. Deakins' outstanding cinematography netted nominations and, in some cases trophies, from the American Society of Cinematographers Awards, Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, National Society of Film Critics Awards (USA), and New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

Deakins also was nominated for an Academy Award, as was the film's Dante Ferretti for Best Costume Design and Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo for Best Art Direction.

--Jim Harrington 

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