'Sicko' showing begins Friday


LAKEPORT – Persistence paid off Tuesday, both for Lakeport Cinema 5 manager Justin Hamaker and the Lake County residents who've been asking him to run Michael Moore's “Sicko.”

The documentary compares the highly profitable American health care industry to other nations, and relates HMO horror stories.

Fans who had made the request by phone and on the theater's Web site received this message Tuesday afternoon from Hamaker: “I have good news for all of you who requested we play Sicko! It will be opening this Friday, Aug. 3, for a one week-engagement.

“The only way we could accommodate Sicko was to bring it in for a single matinée showing each day at 12:15. I realize this may not be an ideal time for all of you, but the only other alternative was to not play it at all,” Hamaker reported.

He added, “I would like to ask each of you to spread the word so we can maximize attendance each day. With your help we can send a message to Michael Moore and Lionsgate that even small communities like Lakeport are interested in documentaries and other small films.”

The requests and the booking are a sequel to Lake County's booking of “Fahrenheit 911,” which also took a campaign of requests to bring it to Lakeport.

On July 22, the fans received this message from Hamaker: “You are receiving this message because you requested Sicko through our web site. We realize you are still waiting for us to bring Sicko to Lakeport. I can assure you we are trying to find a weekend to bring it in. However, we are in the midst of a summer season which has more releases than we can keep up with. Just this weekend we had to pass on Hairspray which made an estimated $27.8 million nationwide. Unfortunately the situation won't improve soon as there are about 12 new major releases in the next four weeks.

"With Sicko the problem is complicated by a continued lackluster performance in theaters,” Hamaker reported. “This weekend Sicko opened in 361 new theaters but still only made an estimated $1.9 million nationwide – which is down 27 percent from the previous weekend despite playing in almost 50-percent more theaters. In fact, we opened Sicko at our sister theater in Paradise and had less than 100 people total for Friday and Saturday.

“At this point, the most likely scenario for us playing Sicko is to bring it in for one week when it can share a screen with another movie – meaning Sicko would have just two to three showings per day. Unfortunately, being in a small market and only having five screens greatly limits our ability to play special interest films like Sicko – especially when the filmmaker and studio choose a limited release at a time of year when the market is overwhelmed with major blockbuster pictures.”

Variety's Alissa Simon wrote Sicko is “an affecting and entertaining dissection of theAmerican health care industry, showing how it benefits the few at the expense of the many. Pic's tone alternates between comedy, poignancy and outrage as it compares the U.S system of care to other countries.”

The Internet Movie Database, www.imdb.com, reported that as of July 22 Sicko had grossed $19 million.