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'The Way': Long road to box office success

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Expectations were pretty modest for Emilio Estevez‘s The Way when it opened seven weeks ago. The spiritual character study (which Estevez wrote, directed, produced, and costars in with his father, Martin Sheen) made only $110,000 in 33 theaters the weekend of Oct. 7. But since then the movie, about a man (Sheen) who hikes Spain’s Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail after his son (Estevez) dies, has done what few other films do in today’s front-loaded box office world: It’s gained in per-theater average, from $1,415 its fourth weekend to $1,941 most recently. After 42 days the low-budget drama has earned $2.8 million, thanks in part to a word-of-mouth surge. And now the film’s distributors, PDA and ARC, are hoping to give The Way an extra push by putting it in more theaters over the family-friendly Thanksgiving holiday. ”We’re amazed by the reaction,” Estevez says, adding that the movie ”really works in the heartland.” Targeting families makes sense too, he says: The film was inspired by his son, Taylor, who moved to Spain after meeting his wife along the Camino de Santiago in 2003. Explains Estevez: ”I began to think, ‘If I’m ever going to see my son again…I better figure out how to make a film there!”’

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