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The Grand May Not Be So at the Box Office

Shannon Elizabeth of Dancing with the Stars is one of the poker playing celebs in the movie The GrandZak Penn's improvisational poker mockumentary The Grand, which doesn't star Keeley Hazell but does feature Dancing With the Stars' Shannon Elizabeth (at right), is set to hit theaters on March 21, and all indications suggest the movie is gonna flop big at the box office, and by "all indications" we mean we have a hunch.

We'll wait to see how many screens it will hit on opening weekend first before making a prediction on box office receipts but we're thinking somewhere in the Kickin' It Old Skool and Witless Protection range (if more than a 1,000 theaters).

Regardless we're sure it will still fare better than Paris Hilton's The Hottie & the Nottie, which isn't saying much. We could make a movie called Sitting on the Can While Writing This Post, make it last 90 minutes and still . . . oh yeh, we already used that joke with Lucky You.

Most of our hunch is based on the fact that it seems the distributor Anchor Bay has done pretty much zilch to market the film, especially to its easiest target: poker fans. And anything it has done has gained pretty much zero traction.

Consider the YouTube contest Anchor Bay has been running for the past month. They're asking people to submit a video of their "craziest Vegas story" with the best one winning a trip to The Grand's Sin City premiere. The last we looked there was only one video entry posted in the contest's YouTube group and a search came up with maybe two or three other entries elsewhere (here's one of them).

Check out the film's MySpace page and it has about 160 "friends", which is around 700 or so less than Kickin' It's page, and half of which are people in the film or random poker pros.

They even ran a few micro-sites (here and here) that parody the type of gimmick poker sites we see everyday. A good move, if they seeded them somehow to be viral.

Finally, look around at poker news sites and poker blogs and you don't see any banner ads or promotions running for the film. And on the PR side there isn't much either. We get pitches from pretty much everything under the sun that is poker related, yet nothing from the folks at Anchor Bay.

It's all kind of disappointing considering The Grand got rave reviews when it screened at Tribeca and was one of its top draws, and considering most who saw The Grand's trailer, including us, thought it looked like it might be the first poker movie that doesn't suck since Rounders.

Plus it has a pretty decent ensemble cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Werner Herzog, Gabe Kaplan, Shannon Elizabeth, Michael "David St. Hubbins" McKean, Dennis Farina, Chris Parnell and a bunch of past Celebrity Poker Showdown-ers including Cheryl Hines, David Cross, Ray Romano, and Richard Kind.

All of this lackluster marketing we guess isn't surprising when you consider what Anchor Bay is used to promoting. Their new releases this year include "Phonics 4 Babies: Colors and Counting," "10 Minute Solution: Latin Dance Mix" and "Gabrielle Reese: Fit & Healthy Prenatal Workouts."

All right, we think we had one more point to make but someone just emailed us photos of Kate Hudson's backside (here, here and here) so we're gonna leave our rant at that.

If you want to learn more about The Grand, check out this recent interview Zak Penn did in which he reveals that Ben Affleck came up with some of the characters and ideas for the film.

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I've seen exactly one commericial for this during a "High Stakes Poker" episode. And the only website pimping is from here or FullContactPoker which directs you to the site.

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