The season of bombs
I am always pleased when big-budget crap movies fail miserably. I know, I’ve seen the “Movies. They’re Worth it” ads. I should feel for the poor gaffers who suffer when people don’t buy tickets to Timeline. But in my heart and soul, I do not care. When bad movies fail, an angel gets her wings.
Take this weekend’s gross sheet from Box Office Mojo. My eyes race down to #11, and The Matrix Revolutions. It cost $180 million to make and market. By this point in the life of The Matrix Reloaded, that movie had made $248 million. However, it sucked. Viewers remembered this. Revolutions has made $133 million, and will probably tap out at $145. If Entertainment journalists are paying attention, this is the failure of the year.
Or is it? Brian Grazer’s shitfeast The Cat in the Hat has made back half of its $150 million cost. But its immediate inspiration, 2000’s The Grinch, had made $137 million by this point, for a similar cost. Moviegoers remembered that the first movie sucked. They didn’t show up for a second helping. As the Matrix series’ lame Merovingian character would point out – “cause, and effect!”
The clever decision to spent $180 million on Master and Commander has backfired – that movie has made only $68 million, and is already being pulled from theaters. The Michael Crichton adaptation Timeline, which threw over $80 million down the path of an author who stopped being hot before the Clinton impeachment, made $12 million in its debut and will probably top out at $25 million. The same thing happened to the Grisham-inspired, star-packed Runaway Jury – an $80 million cost and $47 million gross. Sadly, the new live-action Looney Tunes movie looks to have lost $60 million. The Oscar bait of The Human Stain cost $30 million and has sold less than $5 million worth of tickets. But this is a story about a college professor and his sex life. How did it cost $30 million?
It’s really stunning how many bombs dropped this year. The Rock’s vehicle The Rundown lost more than $60 million. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, based on an extraordinary story by Alan Moore, lost $40 million. The sequel to Tomb Raider cost $130 million and made $65 million. This is just depressing. They join other 2003 bombs like $110 million Tears of the Sun ($43 million gross), $75 million Out of Time ($40 million), the $85 million The Core ($31 million), and most gratifyingly, the $105 million Harrison Ford/Josh Hartnett vehicle Hollywood Homicide ($30 million).
Are there any lessons? Well, two of these movies featured the oh-so-witty line “Shut up!” in their trailers, which probably didn’t help them. A lot of them attached big stars to underwritten properties. That just doesn’t work for a star after he’s made maybe two bad movies in a row. Finally, it seems like a lot of these pieces of shit were based on ideas successful before September 11, 2001 – Cat, Matrix, Grisham/Crichton, Tomb Raider, disaster movies, and cartoons meeting reality.
It’s mostly depressing, though. How many excellent 28 Days Laters could have been made for the cost of the Wachowski’s silly, bloated train wrecks?