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Forget extradition -- Roman Polanski feels the love

February 21, 2010 | 11:26 am

Pol He may be a polarizing figure in the news, but cineastes continue to embrace Roman Polanski.

The director’s literary thriller "The Ghost Writer" attracted strong audiences to the art houses where it opened this weekend, earning an average of $44,000 per screen in two theaters in Los Angeles and two theaters in New York.

The Summit Entertainment movie stars Pierce Brosnan as an embattled former British prime minister and Ewan MacGregor as the ghostwriter hired to pen his memoirs. It's more commercial than that sounds, though, as it basically tracks MacGregor following a conspiracy/political coverup. At its best moments, it harks back to the director's paranoia-themed work of several decades ago.

Polanski has been the subject of controversy as U.S. prosecutors continue to try to extradite him from Switzerland over statutory rape charges first filed in 1978. But hardcore fans of both Polanski and art-house film appeared unruffled by headlines and turned out in dedicated numbers.

They also seemed relatively pleased after they saw the movie, handing the film a respectable B+ CinemaScore.

The news is consistent with what many observers have said: Film fans care when stars are in the news, but they're probably not going to let a controversy over a director stop them from buying a ticket to his movie. Or, even more pointedly, they may buy a ticket in support of said filmmaker.

Indeed, the business came on the same weekend that Polanski found favor with another jury. No, not that kind of jury -- he won the Silver Bear award for best director at the Berlin International Film Festival, where his movie premiered. Needless to say, Polanski, who is under house arrest and was taken into custody at the last film festival he attended, in Zurich, did not turn up in person to accept the prize.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Roman Polanski on the set of "The Ghost Writer." Credit: Guy Farrandis / Summit Entertainment