LOL was meant to be the next step for former tween queen Miley Cyrus to break out of her child star phase. Here, in her first PG-13 effort, Cyrus plays Lola, a high schooler exploring the tricky terrain of teacher’s crushes, teen sex, alcohol use and other content too hot for the Disney Channel. However, it now seems Cyrus will have to look elsewhere for her game-changing role as Lionsgate has lost interest in LOL, bumping it down from a national release to a brief theatrical run in seven cities that will satisfy the contract stipulations with its foreign distributors.
While fine print has saved LOL from going straight to DVD, that’s the only silver lining for this feature. Clearly a low priority after Lionsgate’s Hunger Games windfall, the studio has demoted LOL‘s marketing to its home entertainment division meaning its release will have no publicity to speak of. Moreover with the release date of May 4th, it has been set up to fail spectacularly. Basically, this touching teen flick will open against the incredible force of The Avengers, which is already tracking in the $150 million range. While this might be frustrating for Cyrus, it’s far more distressing to the film’s writer-director Lisa Azuelos, who adapted the feature from her acclaimed French film LOL (Laughing out Loud). This was poised to be her American breakthrough.
Speaking with the LA Times, Azuelos spoke about LOL‘s struggles to score a release. Produced by Lionsgate offshoot Mandate Pictures in 2010, the movie has repeatedly taken a backseat to features the distribution branch expected to be more marketable, like the box office bombs Abduction and Conan The Barbarian. “They couldn’t take care of my movie, and I waited in line,” Azuelos fumed.
She has every reason to be frustrated. While this is a setback for Cyrus, she has more projects on the horizon—including the action-comedy So Undercover where she plays a private eye masquerading as a sorority member—but Azuelos isn’t as likely to be offered another American production after this debacle. Still, she remains upbeat, saying, “I wish it would be a national release. And I’m still hopeful that in those seven cities it’s going to be big and grow and grow.”