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A RECORD, SORT OF: Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary “Valentino: The Last Emperor” has been enjoying a successful run since opening at New York’s Film Forum on March 18: it’s grossed $39,106 so far, landing it around the top of Film Forum’s premieres, and it’s being touted as the highest-grossing documentary debut of 2009 (which, three months into the year, might not be as grandiose a benchmark as it sounds.)
It’s hard to remember another documentary that has benefited from such a fortuitous confluence of high-level buzz and mass-market coverage. Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti are at leisure to promote it full time on everything from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Charlie Rose, while Tyrnauer’s boss at Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, did his part for the movie with the first dinner party at his second restaurant, Monkey Bar. Guests included Diane von Furstenberg, Barry Diller and Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera. The film’s seven-month, 10-festival run provided photo ops of endless premieres studded with Valentino’s starlet devotees. Tyrnauer has also left no niche unexplored: through his Web site, he’s conducting a Most Fashionable Pug contest — Valentino’s six pugs provide comic relief in the film — judged by the designer himself.
The film opens in Chicago on March 27, and in San Francisco and Los Angeles April 3, the latter with a suitably lavish opening party. As for everywhere else, a spokeswoman said, “Plans are definitely in the works to bring the movie to additional markets but specifics are still forthcoming.” — Irin Carmon