She had to wait. Whatever was bothering McCall, he clearly didn’t want to discuss it in front of everyone or he would have already voiced it.
Drinks were served in the living room as people happily discussed the various in’s and out’s of the film. Holly listened closely, trying to catch anything that could hint at what had left McCall unhappy. The discussions only lasted about an hour but it felt like ages as Holly waited and listened.
It was Evelyn who made the first move to leave and the others followed closely after her. Peter was the last to depart, hesitating at the front door, perhaps waiting for Holly to make her goodbyes as well or simply he wanted to find an excuse to delay, but eventually even he was driving away.
McCall turned to Holly in the entrance hall, obviously expecting her to also say goodbye but she wasn’t planning on letting him off that easily. Instead she crossed her arms.
“What?” He blinked.
“What was wrong with the movie?”
“Nothing. It was very good. I think everyone though so. Why? Did someone say something to you?”
“No. But I saw the way you looked immediately afterwards. Something about it troubled you and I want to know what it was. We’re in this together.”
McCall sighed. It sounded almost resigned. And then he gestured at her to follow him. He walked to the living room and poured himself a drink.
“I didn’t want to ruin the moment for you,” he explained. “Antigone was well done. Everyone put so much work into it, especially you. There were so many factors that could have gone wrong, as with any film but more so with this one considering all the forces working against it, but instead everything came together brilliantly. I wanted you to be able to enjoy that victory tonight.”
“Alright. And what’s going to prevent that? If it’s not the movie itself that’s bothering you, that what is it?”
McCall poured himself a drink before turning to Holly with an expression of defeat. “I’ve failed.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The release. Every major theater chain has refused to touch the film. Most of the smaller ones too for that matter. Montell just has so many big, major releases coming soon that none of the theaters want to risk alienating them. Additionally all the major film critics have expressed similar concerns of getting shut out by Montel Studios. I’m sorry. I said I could find a way to make this work but I’m failing.”
“Oh Victor, come on.” Holly smiled and came over to stand next to him. “This isn’t your fault. I know you have tried everything you can.”
“And none of it has been enough. All the work you and Phryne have been doing for promotion won’t do us any good if we can only get it into a few scattered art house theaters.”
“We’ll figure something out. We’ve figured everything else out every step of the way. This won’t be any different.”
“I’ve already reached out to every contact I have. Nothing. I don’t know what we can possibly do at this point. Even if we got some good reviews, which will be difficult with the critics all wary as well, we still won’t be able to get the audience we need to make the film successful enough to overcome everything Grant’s done to the movie and to your career.”
“Forget my career.”
“No. Your career is important.”
“No it’s really not. Look even if things turned around tomorrow, every theater agreed to show the movie and it had record breaking success and I was offered a dozen prime rolls, I’m not sure I would actually want to take them. I’m sorry Victor. I know one of the main reasons you bought Antigone was to help me and try to ensure I could continue working. And I am so grateful that you did. In fact the work we’ve been doing on Antigone has been the most amazing, creatively fulfilling experience I’ve ever had. But I just don’t…want to continue acting despite that.”
“Well at least we’ll go out on a high note I suppose. Here. Have a drink.”
But as Holly drove home later that night she refused to give in to the impending sense of defeat trying to grow in the back of her mind.
She shook her head as though shaking it away.
No. They had come too far for that.
They were going to fight.