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SUNDANCE: Al Pacino-Katie Holmes ‘The Son of No One’ Bombs, Prompts Walkouts

After a screening Monday, enough regular audience members left early for one observer to describe it as an "exodus."

The Hollywood Reporter
by Daniel Miller, Jay A. Fernandez

Sundance 2011 can chalk up its first bomb.

Dito Montiel’s crime drama "The Son of No One" had its first screening for press and industry at noon Monday at the Yarrow Hotel Theatre ahead of its closing-night premiere at the Eccles Theatre on Friday. Anticipation was high for the new work from the writer-director of the award-winning 2006 Sundance crime drama "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints." With "No One," Montiel was returning with another gritty New York-set feature and a high-profile cast: Al Pacino, Channing Tatum, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche and Katie Holmes.

Though the theater wasn’t full, the room was crowded with acquisitions execs wanting an early look at the film. Reps from Samuel Goldwyn, Paramount, Summit, the Weinstein Co., Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group, IFC Films, Morgan Creek, Screen Media, Miramax and Relativity made it into the theater by the film’s opening credits.

Some of them, however, were gone well before the end credits. In addition, enough regular audience members left early for one observer to describe it as an “exodus.”

The negative response went beyond the walkouts. One viewer’s attempt to begin applause after the lights came up drew almost no takers.

None of this is to say that the film won’t find a buyer with a proposal for a strategic plan that it believes will make it work in the marketplace. As Sundance veterans know, plenty of films with lukewarm responses go on to find buyers and audiences, especially genre films featuring big stars. And with the barnstorming UTA team repping the sale (along with WME and Cassian Elwes, who's also got two sales under his belt thus far), the possibilities are far from scuttled.

But as of the first viewing, that work just got a lot harder.