Eminent Domain

Little Pink House Having Huge Opening Week

A low-budget account of the Kelo case sells out a 1,400-seat theater and gets the Megyn Kelly treatment plus a love-letter from George Will.


It's a good movie! Seen it twice now. Only cried once. ||| Korchula Productions
Korchula Productions

This Friday sees the long-awaited theatrical release of Little Pink House, the film account of Susette Kelo's noble and ultimately doomed fight to save her home against eminent domain–wielding redevelopers in New London, Connecticut. The case, which became the basis of arguably the Supreme Court's single most reviled decision of the 21st century, expanded the constitutional parameters of eminent domain takings at the federal level. It also produced a massive backlash that saw more than 40 states pass laws restricting forced private-to-private property transfers.

The Catherine Keener–starring movie, written and directed by Courtney Balaker, and co-produced by her husband Ted (a former Reason TV producer), opens Friday in New York (two theaters), Atlanta, San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Monica, Pasadena, and Irvine; you can see a full rollout schedule at the movie's website as well as info on how to request a screening in your area. Made for a reported budget of less than $5 million, it's a David-and-Goliath movie about a David-and-Goliath story. Fortunately for the filmmakers, this week has already seen a number of remarkably promising developments in the promotional effort:

* On Sunday, they held the official premiere in New London itself, in the massive, 1,400-seat Garde Arts Center. Did they have trouble filling the seats? Nope: It sold out, and so many people had to be turned away at the door that they've booked the theater again in two weeks. "Throughout the film it wasn't uncommon for applause—or light sneers—to break out as moviegoers recognized people and events including the much maligned former Gov. John Rowland," reports Charles Clark of The Day, a New London newspaper. "Overall the film was well-received, receiving raucous applause when it ended." Reports Little Pink House co-executive producer (and Reason Foundation trustee) Kerry Welsh, who was in attendance: "It was off-the-charts crazy."

He's right to be mad. ||| Reason

* On Monday, Susette Kelo, Courtney Balaker, and Institute for Justice President Scott Bullock (the key litigator in the case and film), appeared on a sympathetic, heavily reported/produced 10-minute segment of Megyn Kelly Today. This came in the wake of prior TV treatments on Kennedy, Stossel, and Build. (The latter interview included folk-rock legend David Crosby, who wrote an original song called "Home Free" for the film's closing credits.)

* And on Tuesday, George Will, whose syndicated column reaches up to 450 newspapers, made his latest effort a love letter to the movie: "Coming soon to a cinema near you—you can make this happen; read on—is a bite-your-nails true-story thriller featuring heroes, villains and a history-making struggle over…the Constitution's Takings Clause," Will's piece begins. "Next Feb. 24, 'Little Pink House' will win the Oscar for best picture if Hollywood's political preening contains even a scintilla of sincerity about speaking truth to power." Whoa.

"Little indie films do not get this," Welsh tells me. "It does not happen."

You can read more about the movie and the case behind it from Kelo specialist Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy. Last year, Reason TV's Paul Detrick featured Balaker, Kelo, and Bullock in a piece about both the movie and one of the Kelo decision's biggest fans: President Donald Trump.

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  1. one of the Kelo decision’s biggest fans: President Donald Trump

    Cheap shot. Very unfair!

    1. I truly hope that Trump does not get too associated with this film. Because then it will all become about hating him rather than hating the abuse of powers.

      1. On the other hand, it’s fun to get people in a theater, get them riled up about the evil Supreme Court…and realize that it’s the Notorious RBG acting as the real villain….

        1. At the very least, don’t spoil if she wears a crown in the film.

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          2. No spoilers on a crown, but they did borrow some Peter Jackson LOTR sound effects.

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      2. It’s not like that’s happened with any other important causes in recent years!

      3. But the conundrum from people on both sides on how to feel about this is amusing, since it was a liberal court who made the decision with vehement conservative opposition, yet Trump is one of its biggest fans. Minds blown everywhere.

    2. Totally fair. He’s done the same eminent domain bullshit, just that his victims never managed to get their case in front of the supreme court only to have the supreme court say “fuck off” to the home owner.

      1. I know, i was just trying to get in before his fan club starts talking about “legitimate takings” and unknowable dimensions of chess.

        1. Kelo and eminent domain is always an odd issue where simple-minded partisans on both sides are confused about where they stand on the issue, and are almost always inconsistent about their opinions on the matter.

            1. Well now i forget. Watching Jeff Goldblum lick his lips is oddly mesmerizing.

        2. To Trump, the dimensions of chess really are unknowable.

        3. I wish some decent researcher would finally prove the asymptotic bounds of the growth of bullshit in terms of the N dimensions of the chess being played.

  2. Like the weather, everybody complains about terrible SCOTUS decisions, but nobody does anything about them.

  3. Little Pink House Having Huge Opening Week

    Just like the huge opening the excavator left.

  4. “‘Little Pink House’ will win the Oscar for best picture if Hollywood’s political preening contains even a scintilla of sincerity about speaking truth to power.”

    So, no.

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  6. My life experience has taught me that people don’t give a shit until their ox is gored.

    Thus, while movies like this might agitate a few, there will be no mass action. And, mass action is what is required if we are to roll back these kinds of abuses of power.

  7. Will be interesting to see what the “reviews that matter” (ya know -NYT, WaPo, HuffPo, Salon) make of this. They claim to be for the little guy against evil corporations, but then modern urbanist progs are actually very supportive of eminent domain and the Kelo decision because it allows them to carry out their master plans for the common good. Will the fact that El Trumpo supports eminent domain too make them like this movie, or will its association with libertarianism, which is supported by the Kochtopus, make them reject it before they even see it?

  8. Trump grabs little pink house!



    That’s how you headline.

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