Two at the Telluride Film Festival, three at the Toronto International Film Festival and one at the Mill Valley Film Festival.
If that were a list of trophies for the new movie "127 Hours," which opens Friday in limited release, the filmmakers would be overjoyed.
In fact, it's a partial tally of people who have collapsed during early screenings of the movie about a real-life hiker who amputated his forearm after a falling boulder pinned his hand in a remote canyon.
"I started to feel like I was going to throw up," said Courtney Phelps, who was watching "127 Hours" at a recent Producers Guild of America screening in Hollywood and grew ill just as the amputation scene ended. "So I went to the bathroom, and then I started feeling dizzy and my heart started racing."
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Phelps fainted on the restroom floor, and was treated by paramedics who had been called when another moviegoer suffered an apparent seizure.
Filmmakers always hope their work will affect audiences in powerful ways. But the strong physical and emotional responses generated by "127 Hours" have not only surprised director Danny Boyle and his creative team — they've also presented a delicate marketing challenge for Fox Searchlight, which co-financed and is distributing the $20-million movie.
"I would prefer that people not pass out — it's not a plus," said Stephen Gilula, the studio's co-president. "We don't see a particular publicity value in it."
Still, Gilula said the swoons — besides the incidents in Telluride, Toronto and Mill Valley, there have been at least eight more at other preview screenings — prove the film's artistic power. "It's the most empathetic experience I've ever seen," he said. The movie is rated R for "language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images."
"127 Hours," loosely adapted by Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy from hiker Aron Ralston's memoir, is hardly a fright flick. It is intended to be, and critics are singling it out as, a highbrow drama for sophisticated moviegoers. Awards prognosticators have picked it as a likely nominee for best picture in this year's Oscar race.