'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood' finally debuts at Penn Hills Cinemas - Penn Hills Progress

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ finally debuts at Penn Hills Cinemas

Thursday, December 12, 2019 | 9:59 AM

Moviegoers in Penn Hills told a theater owner “It’s you I like” when they picked his theater to watch the Fred Rogers biopic two weeks after the film’s opening weekend.

Paul Looker, owner and manager of Penn Hills Cinemas, said around 200 people came out to his theater over the Dec. 6 weekend to watch the movie, netting it around $675 in ticket sales.

“Those are not numbers to turn your nose at, that’s the goal for us,” Looker said, adding that final numbers wouldn’t be available until after this publication’s deadline. “If we could get every screen to do that consistently every week, we would be good. If we could count on that, we would be very, very solid.”

Looker became irked when he learned his cinema, which houses four theaters, wasn’t allowed to show “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” on its $14 million opening weekend, Nov. 22. Instead, he had to wait until Dec. 6.

He posted a video on the cinema’s YouTube channel expressing his frustration. The video garnered 1,200 views, more than any other video Looker has posted. Many viewers commented on social media that they would wait to watch the movie there.

Looker blamed Sony Pictures, the movie’s distributor, for the cinema not getting to show it during opening weekend.

Sony did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The theater owner said Sony gave him “Charlie’s Angels” instead of the Mr. Rogers movie, which was filmed in Pittsburgh.

“From Nov. 22 to Nov. 28, ‘Charlie’s Angels’ did about $200 in sales. We sold one ticket (for ‘Charlie’s Angels’) on Nov. 22,” Looker said.

“Charlie’s Angels” has earned $17.5 million in the U.S. and Canada as of Dec. 8, according to Box Office Mojo, a website that tracks box office revenue. It earned $8 million on its opening weekend in mid-November, a far cry from its $48 million budget.

“We would have done 7.5 times better what ‘Charlie’s Angels’ did,” Looker said. “It wasn’t the movie for us. It wasn’t great nationwide, but it definitely was not the movie for us either.”

The fact that one moviegoer on Dec. 7 purchased 20 tickets to be handed to strangers next in line, a nod to the movie’s “kindness” message, further cemented in Looker’s mind the Mr. Rogers movie was the right fit.

“I said, ‘Are you serious?’ And yeah, they were serious,” he said, adding the ticket buyer wished to remain anonymous.