Just like Lance Bass and Joey Fatone in ”On the Line,” the executives behind the ‘N Sync dudes’ film debut are on a missing-persons hunt. But unlike their bubblegum heartthrobs, the execs aren’t trying to track down that cute girl they met on the train — they’re wondering where ‘N Sync’s formidable fan base went when ”On the Line” hit theaters Oct. 26. The movie grossed a measly $2.3 million in its first weekend, landing at a very un-‘N Sync-like No. 11. It fared even worse in its second weekend.
”We are scratching our heads,” says David Brooks, cohead of marketing for Miramax, the film’s distributor. ”We know that the young-girl audience was aware of this movie and had a strong interest. But that first-choice drive to come see the movie never really got there. It just never was quite big as we thought.”
But ”On the Line” producer Wendy Thorlakson, one of Bass’ partners in his film production company, A Happy Place, suggests that some of the blame lies with Miramax. She says the studio didn’t advertise the movie enough and erred in opening it on just 900 screens (films in wider release such as ”Monsters, Inc.” and ”K-PAX” typically open at more than twice that number of screens).
”Miramax underestimated what this film could’ve done,” Thorlakson says. ”I think they believed that the core audience for this movie would be just ‘N Sync fans, and I think they don’t believe there are as many [of those] as there are. We were really disappointed with the [number] of screens and the lack of ad buys, because people didn’t know it was out there, and even if they did, they couldn’t find it.”
For example, Thorlakson says that when two squealing teenage girls approached Bass for autographs last week during a trip to Las Vegas, they had no idea that their hero’s movie had hit theaters. ”They asked, ‘Is it out?”’ she says.