The movie became a hot topic after a story appeared in The Hollywood Reporter earlier in the week saying that a number of filmgoers had left a media and industry screening early. That prompted a sales agent for the film to tweet against the story (which prompted a followup item in The Hollywood Reporter).
But despite the walkout talk from earlier in the week, the movie, which co-stars Katie Holmes, played to a warm reception at a full house of approximately 1,200 filmgoers at the Eccles Theatre on Friday night.
Montiel's movie centers on a New York City police officer (Channing Tatum) tormented by a secret that threatens to catch up to him. As the walls close in, he finds himself on the run even from his boss (Ray Liotta) and wonders if he can even trust his godfather, who's also the police commissioner (Al Pacino).
At a news conference earlier Friday, the freewheeling Montiel, who was previously here with "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints," addressed the walkout story, saying it "drove him nuts" but then added, "Whatever ... the movie's great."
A handful of audience members did seem aware of the earlier publicity. "I heard Katie [Holmes] wasn't coming because of all the bad press," one moviegoer said to another. "She hasn't been in anything good since 'Pieces of April.'"
Holmes did, in fact, show up at the last minute -- and for the first time all week, nearly the entire Eccles auditorium stood up to gawk and snap photographs of a celebrity. She later took the stage with Montiel and the rest of the cast, who spent most of the question-and-answer session praising the filmmaker.
On the red carpet before the screening, Tatum -- true to actor form -- said he'd not read any of the press surrounding the movie.
"I don’t ever read those things. People have asked me some interesting questions today," he said with a smiled. When asked what he meant by that, he replied, with a wink, "I don't know, you asked me." (Check out the video with Tatum below.)
From the stage, the actor self-deprecatingly noted that he only had about "15 words or lines in this entire movie." "[Montiel] convinced me the less I did, the better I'd be," he quipped.
-- Steven Zeitchik and Amy Kaufman
Photo: Ray Liotta, left, Channing Tatum and Dito Montiel at the Sundance Film Festival. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Associated Press
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