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Why Won't Michelle Pfeiffer's New Movie Reach Theaters?

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Blink and you'll miss Personal Effects, a moving contemporary drama starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Ashton Kutcher and Kathy Bates that's playing for one night only in New York next Monday, March 16, at 9:15 p.m. at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village. (It had its only L.A. showing last week.)

Yes, the movie will turn up on DVD later this spring. And writer-director David Hollander is thankful it's even getting this tiny theatrical window.

Still, if you ask Hollander, the creator of the TV series The Guardian and show runner for The Cleaner, he'll tell you that, when he made the film, he never would have imagined that a movie starring Pfeiffer and Kutcher wouldn't ever get a real theatrical run.

"It's frustrating," Hollander, 40, says by telephone from his L.A. office, where he's writing scripts for and overseeing production of the second season of The Cleaner. "Not to forgive what's happened, but it's certainly indicative of the current economic climate. It's put the fear in all of the major operations - and fear, storytelling and art are not a good combination.

"To present a story like this well, you've got to be able to tolerate economic fear. You've got to be willing to double down if necessary, to see a greater return. There's not a lot of interest in scripts that aren't high-concept in nature. Unless you're one of a handful of filmmakers or stars, the answer is no."

Still, Hollander thought he was in the ballpark with Pfeiffer and Kutcher. He shot the film for $6 million, crafting a script from a Rick Moody short story and his own experiences.

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