Virtual movie screening of ‘Phoenix, Oregon’ to benefit state’s restaurant workers

Entertainment

Independent 'Phoenix, Oregon' film hit no. 1 in domestic box office nationally through fluke timing

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon-made film “Phoenix, Oregon” will be holding a virtual screening this weekend as a fundraiser for restaurants operating on the front lines during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and those experiencing food insecurity.

The film has the unique distinction of being the no. 1 movie in America in box office sales, for a weekend in March and two weekends in April, due to fluke timing coinciding with widespread coronavirus theater closures.

Jesse Borrego co-stars in the Oregon-made film “Phoenix, Oregon.” May 08, 2020 (photo courtesy Joma Films).

The Theatrical-At-Home release is a partnership with the Oregon Hospitality Foundation, which is also donating $10,000 of its own fund to the effort.

Oregon Hospitality Foundation Executive Director Wendy Popkin said in a statement the virtual screening is an opportunity for “supporting community restaurants via takeout, providing funding for restaurants who are doing philanthropic work, and giving financial support to local filmmakers.”

The film, produced in Klamath Falls in 2018, is about two friends, a graphic novelist and a chef, who seize an opportunity to reinvent their lives by quitting their jobs and restoring and opening an old bowling ally to serve “the world’s greatest pizza.” It stars James Le Gros (“Drugstore Cowboy”), Lisa Edelstein (“House”), Jesse Borrego (“Fame”) and others. The film was produced by Ashland film company Joma Films.

James Le Gros co-stars in the Klamath Falls made film “Phoenix, Oregon.” May 08, 2020 (photo courtesy Joma Films).

“The lead character is modeled after a friend of ours, a passionate chef and pizzeria entrepreneur. We see how hard he works to create great cuisine and give back to his community every day,” said producer Annie Lundgren in a press release. “Especially at this time, we are excited to partner with the Oregon Hospitality Foundation to support restaurants in our local community and across the state.”

The screening is Saturday, May 9 at 5 p.m. followed by a live Q&A with filmmakers at 7 p.m., though access to the film is available May 8-12. To purchase a $6.50 ticket, go to phoenixoregonmovie.com/takeout.

Though the film only made $3,842 its opening weekend on March 20-22, normally considered a theatrical flop under any other circumstances, it was the No. 1 movie in box office sales, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s because it only had one other film to compete with at the time due to social distancing closures and made the ticket sales via online stream, according to Herald and News.

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