This morning BBC News ran a story giving the Nielsen numbers for the first two screenings of Behind the Candelabra on HBO:
The television premiere of Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas as flamboyant pianist Liberace, was seen by 2.4 million people in the US.
The Nielsen Company said it was the HBO network's biggest audience for one of its original movies since medical drama Something the Lord Made in 2004.
A further 1.1 million people tuned in for a repeat of the film that aired immediately after Sunday's premiere.I suspect that these numbers were due, at least in part, to the successful reception of this film at Cannes. However, I was still impressed, particularly having watching a BBC interview with Michael Douglas during the Cannes festival. Douglas made it a point to praise HBO for taking on projects that the Hollywood studio system would not touch (affirming the fact that, whatever impact "new media" may be having, that system is still firmly in place).
Ironically, I was aware of HBO Films long before I became an HBO subscriber. The first of their films that I saw was And the Band Played On, the 1993 docudrama based on the best-selling 1987 non-fiction book And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts. Even more ironically, I saw the film at the Singapore Film Festival at a time when Singapore public health policy (such as it was at the time) was still in denial over the significance of AIDS.
I have since become a staunch supporter of HBO's boldness when it comes to content production. I have not missed any one of David Simon's projects and to not plan to miss whatever he chooses to do next. Meanwhile, I cannot wait for July 14, which is when The Newsroom returns (particularly after I felt that the first season a touched so many sore nerves that I could not imagine the show being renewed)!