Sunday, December 7, 2008

Angels And Demons teaser goes online... (a victim of the "Tomb Raider Trap"?)

The only thing about this trailer that makes me interested is the brief appearance of Stellan Skarsgard. Anyway, I wonder if this sequel will be the latest victim of what I like to call the 'Tomb Raider Trap'. In that I mean, if your first film makes a lot of money despite being a film that no one liked, then you just can't win. Even if you make a better film than the original, people will still remember that they didn't like the previous entry and they won't even sample the next chapter.

Tomb Raider: Cradle Of Life was a far superior film to the original Tomb Raider, a real flesh and blood, stunts and dirt adventure film. Yet it did just half the domestic business ($66 million vs. $132 million). Prince Caspian was a markedly better film than The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, yet it did just 48% what the first film did in the US ($142 million vs. $292 million). Yes, The Da Vinci Code opened to a mammoth $77 million and ended up with $217 million, but the film went over like un-buttered toast to most audiences. Alas, my prediction did not come true and 'so dark the con of man' did not become the catchphrase of the summer ("Dude, that new CD is so dark the con of man!"). This time there will be no controversy, no countless hours of free publicity on prime time news shows, no worldwide debate about Tom Hanks's hair cut (a cut so nice, Nic Cage had to copy it twice). Hell, even the teaser above looks boring, and that takes work when you're not showing much footage. Now we just have the sequel to a movie that people didn't particularly like in the first place. If I had to peg one 'surprise flop' for the summer, my vote goes for Angels And Demons.

And, trust me Warner Bros, it doesn't matter how much you fix Superman, no matter how much you 'Wrath Of Khan' it, audiences are going to be incredibly skeptical about any sequel. And, if I were Sony, I'd be very concerned about the complete collapse of Quantum Of Solace (domestically, anyway). It opened at nearly double the opening weekend of Casino Royale and now will barely surpass the $167 million that the Martin Campbell reboot grossed in America. I'd be concerned about the reception of the next film in this series. In both cases above, I'd at least make sure to keep the budget below $150 million, just in case. Actually Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan actually did drastically reduce the budget between pictures (from $40 million to $14 million, with much recycling from the previous production), and it still grossed about $3 million less in the US despite its eventual status as a genre classic.

Scott Mendelson

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