Steamboat Springs Only the country's 10 largest markets will get "The Kite Runner" in theaters this weekend. Luckily for the 259 Steamboat Springs residents who joined Epilogue Book Co.'s "Kite Runner" book club, they've already seen the movie.
The Paramount Vantage film - an adaptation of the wildly popular 2004 book of the same name, which follows a poor group of Afghani boys over 30 war-torn years from innocence to adulthood - used the book clubs as an initial marketing technique for a movie that has no Hollywood stars on its credits.
When the Los Angeles Times reported on the marketing tactic in the middle of November, Epilogue's "Kite Runner" club was one of the five largest in the country. As groups started in larger towns and cities, the store slipped down in the rankings, but met the 200-person minimum to win a free screening of the movie at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas on Nov. 29.
By the end of the contest Nov. 2, Epilogue's club had 259 members and landed 11th place, behind groups from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
"That's so crazy that we were one of the biggest ones," said Erica Fogue, who owns Epilogue. She attributes the popularity of the book and its supporting groups to broad emotional appeal and relevant subject matter.
"At the time it was published, there were not many books about Afghanistan," Fogue said. "I think with everything that's happened in current events, it was really enlightening for people to read the book."
Roseanne Iversen, who belongs to a book group that read "The Kite Runner" and attended the free screening, said the film is true to its source material. She said the movie gave her a feel for the book's geography and setting. Iversen said she was impressed with "how dissolute it (the setting) is to begin with, and how devastated it is after the war - it's such a contrast to America."
The book and movie also tap into an American fascination with the Middle East that has existed "in one form or another, since - how long have we been there? - too long," Iversen said.
While other top-numbering "Kite Runner" groups include the rosters of high school English classes or the support of college student unions, Fogue insists the Epilogue edition is made up of store customers only. And with more than 250 members, too many more would have been just that - too many.
"We didn't want to sign too many people up because we knew that we couldn't put that many people in the theater," Fogue said.