WHILE THE big-budget, large studio movies about the Iraq war all have tanked, John Cusack's intensely personal film, “War, Inc.,” has survived bad reviews to find an audience in its very limited theatrical release.

Since "War, Inc." opened May 23 in Los Angeles and New York on only two screens in each city, the film about the privatization of war has been briskly attended, prompting First Look Studios, a small independent company, to expand the movie's release.

It's adding 10 theaters in both cities Friday, as well as opening the film June 13 in Chicago; Boston; Seattle; Austin, Texas; Berkeley and San Francisco. And it will open June 20 in Washington, D.C.

At the same time, Amazon.com has begun taking pre-orders for the movie, which will be out on DVD on July 1.

Some people might argue that "War, Inc.'s" quick DVD release is a sign of audience indifference or disgust. But independent film executives don't see it that way: Limited theatrical showings in select cities, coupled with a fast DVD release, have become the accepted formula for distributing cause-related movies and documentaries.

Cusack knew from the start that the quirky film would never be a blockbuster (and, frankly, the critics have hated it). But he is pleased that "War, Inc." has found a niche.

It goes to show that you don't have to fill 500-seat theaters across the country to get your message out.

In search of JFK's mystique

The latest Kennedy craze may have been created by Sen. Barack Obama, whose campaign built around youth and change has awakened some serious political nostalgia. But there are plenty of others -- including national magazine editors and even tie retailers -- who are more than willing to propitiate the family's allure.

Same goes for filmmakers.

Chuck Workman, who does the film montages each year for the Oscars, has produced a documentary called "In Search of Kennedy," featuring more than 50 political personalities and pundits commenting about John F. Kennedy's relentless mystique. Workman, who won an Oscar for the 1986 short film "Precious Images," started work on the Kennedy documentary three years ago, interviewing Norman Mailer, Tom Hayden, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Arianna Huffington, Sen. Edward Kennedy and others.

The film will premiere June 13 at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Workman, meanwhile, is searching for a studio to release the film nationwide.

Tell-all book inspires jokes

Scott McClellan’s scathing tell-all book about his tenure as President George W. Bush's press secretary is continuing to generate buzz -- and fodder for the late-night comedy hosts. Conan O'Brien quipped: "In his new book, President Bush's former press secretary said that Bush has a lack of inquisitiveness. Yeah. When he heard this, Bush said, 'I don't know what he's saying, and I don't care.' "

tina.daunt@latimes.com