Saturday, November 7, 2009

George Clooney 'disappoints' pundits and trackers by opening a film to around $12 million for the seventh time since 1997.

I'll deal with the other box office stuff in the usual weekend column. But The Men Who Stare At Goats (projected weekend take of about $12 million) a disappointment in comparison to what exactly? How many times are we going to read about a George Clooney vehicle disappointing by opening to around $10-13 million? It's a phenomenon that goes back to his first major vehicle, The Peacemaker, which 'disappointed' by opening to just $12.3 million in October 1997. It happened with Out of Sight ($12 million) in June of 1998, Intolerable Cruelty ($12.5 million) in October 2003, Syriana ($11.2 million) in December 2005, again with Michael Clayton ($10.3 million) in October 2007, and again in April 2008 with Leatherheads ($12.6 million).

Where is this magic all-by-himself starring role that Clooney opened to $20 million or more between 1997 and today? Guess what? George Clooney vehicles are not major openers. But they are also usually pretty cheap, adult-driven pictures that are not the sort of movie to burst out of the opening gate. Heck, his only adult films to open above $13 million were Three Kings ($15.8 million) and the Coen Brothers' all-star comedy Burn After Reading ($19.1 million). Face it, when you're dealing with George Clooney films that aren't a Batman film, a special effects event film, or an all-star caper, $10-13 million is what you should be expecting. Expect this crap all over again when Up In the Air 'only' opens to around $12 million next month.

Scott Mendelson

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