Bella Movie Producer Says Negative Critics Ignore Box Office Success

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 31, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bella Movie Producer Says Negative Critics Ignore Box Office Success Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 31, 2007

Hollywood, CA ( — When a movie that promotes morality and decency succeeds at the box office, Hollywood’s elite critics squirm in their seats and trash the film with the hope of denying further success. For Sean Wolfington, the producer of Bella, that’s what’s happening again with a film that has garnered wide acclaim from pro-life advocates.

Bella opened to a limited national release in just 31 cities and 165 theaters with the hope of strong ticket sales and a larger national audience.

The movie succeeded beyond the major players expectations — it had the second-highest per-theater sales last weekend as it took in $1.3 million and about $8,000 per venue.

"Bella ranked number two in box office sales, second only to Saw IV, yet some elitist critics are attacking Bella for its positive portrayal of life, family, and friendship — calling it ‘unrealistic and cliche,’" Wolfington told in an email.

Wolfington lamented the lavish attention given to another film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, a flick about two men who kill their parents. Critics have hailed it as a "realistic portrayal of the human condition."

At the same time, one critic went after Bella saying, "Ends like a TV show, and everyone has learned a neat little lesson. Phooey."

That leaves Wolfington questioning the entire premise behind the movie business.

"Why are they against people learning a lesson? Why are they against people being inspired? Why don’t they want to see humanity portrayed in a positive light?" he asks.

"I do not know the answer to these questions but we hope to light a candle rather than to curse the darkness," Wolfington said.

He said the fact that 92 percent of the critics gave Before the Devil a nearly unanimous thumbs up and that 64 percent gave Bella a thumbs down goes against his entire principle behind making movies.

"I got into the movie business after finding out that the Columbine massacre was inspired by a film the murderers watched over and over, ‘Natural Born Killers,’ which got rave reviews when it came out," Wolfington said.

"It was hearing this on TV that convinced me to stop complaining about the effect of the media, and do something about it," he added.

Wolfington said he still needs helps from pro-life advocates to see Bella a second or third time to keep the box office totals up and increase the likelihood for expansion. The movie hits another 12 cities on November 9, but that still leaves it well short of a normal national release.

"The good news is that 92% of audiences have given Bella a thumbs up online: but if enough people don’t show up at the theaters we will be kicked out of theaters," he said. "We need your help!"

"In Hollywood everyone speaks the same language, box office, so please help us shatter the critics expectations by making sure this beautiful story reaches and transforms as many people as possible," he concludes.

Wolfington closes his emails by talking about the moving experience singer Tony Bennett had at the Bella premier in New York.

"At our New York Premiere at the Tribeca Cinema’s, Tony Bennett was so moved by Bella that he stood up with tears in his eyes and made an impromptu speech saying: ‘This film is an incredible, incredible piece of art, a master piece that every American must see.’"

Go to to see the video of Tony Bennett impromptu speech.