Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winning movie I, Daniel Blake (2016) opened this weekend to an estimated $540,000 from 93 screens, surpassing the British director’s benchmark of $475,000 set by Cillian Murphy-starrer The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2006.
As a result, distributor Entertainment One have announced that they’ll be increasing distribution of the movie to 150 screens nationwide during the film’s second week of release.
Rebecca O’Brien, a long-term collaborator of Loach’s and a producer of I, Daniel Blake, stated the following:
“We’re thrilled to have had such a terrific response from the audience. People strongly identify with this story and the truths it tells. We’re delighted with eOne’s efforts to push it out to an audience who wouldn’t normally go to see this sort of film.”
The socially-relevant tale of one man’s struggle against government-enforced austerity has galvanised a strong and hearty following. The British film, set in Newcastle Upon Tyne, has been adopted as a mantra of sorts by those who oppose tougher regulation on state benefits and feel most aggrieved by the United Kingdom’s current Conservative government.
Starring newcomer Dave Johns in a widely lauded performance, and written by regular Ken Loach collaborator (and former human rights lawyer) Paul Laverty, I, Daniel Blake is a British film in every sense, tackling social issues and shunning the Hollywoodisation of the contemporary landscape in favour of a more truthful depiction of the contemporary era.
The film has been lambasted by sections of the right wing press for, in their words, ‘glorifying the laziness of the unwilling workforce”. On The Film Magazine, the film was praised for representing “our [the UK’s] quiet rage”.
Ken Loach has had a legendary career as a director, his work on socially conscious cinema starting in the 1960s with the South Yorkshire-set tale of a young school boy, Kes. He has been outspoken on the conditions of the workforce in the current era, and critical of Conservative policies that he believes are demeaning ordinary people and forcing unnecessary states of grief and poverty.