When I spoke to Once’s star Glen Hansard and director John Carney, I didn’t bring up the Oscar issue. I mean, the movie had enough of an uphill battle in just being seen this summer – a tiny Irish folkish indie up against a season packed with threepeats and other juggernauts? I also wasn’t clear on how the Oscar situation would work for this film, since some of the songs on the Once soundtrack have appeared on an album that Hansard and his co-star, Marketa Irglova put out as The Swell Season; two more songs have appeared on an album by The Frames, which is Hansard’s day job.
It turns out all of the 13 songs in the film are technically eligible, and Fox Searchlight has begun figuring out which to focus on. Apparently the songs were written for the movie, but appeared on albums released after the film finished shooting; a similar situation happened with Kathleen ‘Bird’ York’s In The Deep, which was written for Crash but ended up on her album before the film was released.
Meanwhile, Sony is pushing the soundtrack hard, and it’s been as high as #3 on iTunes’ soundtrack sales. The movie itself has expanded to 20 screens in 13 cities this past weekend, raking in an astonishing $21,626 per screen.
It’s astonishing but also heartening; Once is a legitimately great movie, a film that’s going to be remembered for a long, long time. Fox Searchlight will eventually roll it out on to 150 screens by the middle of the summer, but if the per screens remain so astronomical, they may go wider. I doubt the film will get Little Miss Sunshine wideness (Once is actually a good film, which is not what mass America looks for in its indie films), but I think it has a chance of being one of the biggest success stories of the summer of 2007, a summer when it looked like the movies were going to be ruled by the sequels and the stupid.