Ever heard of the film, Creation? Me neither. Perhaps because this film never got much praise within the United States. Not a single U.S. distributer wanted to pick up this title until more than four months after its initial release in the UK and world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. With so much global attention, this title only played in 5 cinemas in the U.S. Why?
Creation is about the life of none other than Charles Darwin, his extremely religious wife, and the growing tension between them due to the research Darwin conducted for his book, The Origin of Species. For fear that this title may stir up too much controversy and steer away viewers, U.S. distributors avoided purchasing the rights to show the film.
This film was created by BBC Films and the UK Film Council and made releases in various countries worldwide including Canada, Japan, Greece, Australia, and Belgium; however the U.S. was the last country to find a distributor because of our nation’s controversy over Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Although most UK foreign films do not make an impression in the American cinema scene, this movie had worldwide attention and recognition as it was the opening film at the Toronto Film Festival. The film’s producer, Jeremy Thomas, worked to promote the film and fight for its eventual U.S. release saying, “It’s quite difficult for we in the UK to imagine religion in America. We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the US, outside of New York and LA, religion rules.” (telegraph.com).
While Thomas does not reside in the U.S., he does bring up an important point that our nation is quite divided among the liberal urban dwellers and conservative rural citizens. Compared to other western civilizations, the U.S. a much lower acceptance rate for the theory of evolution. According to sciencemag.org the UK and US have the same level of awareness of Darwin’s theory (71%) but US’s acceptance is 41% compared to 62% for the UK as of 2009 (the year of the movie’s release).
Is it necessarily true that this movie’s controversial theme was the reason for its lack of success? Do you believe that films with controversial themes are less popular among viewers, when films such as Brokeback Mountain or Planet of the Apes dominated the box offices during their releases? Can we attribute this movie’s lack of U.S. success because of it’s theme on evolution?