Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
July 14, 2008

I retire from this press conference. Wait. I'm back.

Hey, he was awesome in Scrubs.

Kim Hollis: Do you consider Brendan Fraser a box office draw?

David Mumpower: Yes..ish. He's had some disappointing films such as Blast from the Past and Bedazzled as well as some flat out disastrous ones such as Monkeybone. I do think that his presence in Journey to the Center of the Earth significantly aided its box office, however, and that is the crux of a discussion about whether someone is a draw. The Mummy franchise resuscitation in a few weeks will be less of a determination than this since it's already established.

Kim Hollis: I think I agree with David. He's a very safe choice as a lead actor in a film, as audiences seem to find him funny and generally charming. He's had a few missteps along the way, but really, there are very few actors who haven't. I suspect that without Fraser in the lead for Journey, it would have been a nothing performer.

Sean Collier: I don't think he's a draw at all. Mummies and extra dimensions of perception are draws, but not Fraser. We're jumping back in time a bit, but how about Monkeybone ($5.4 Million domestic,) Dudley Do-Right ($9.6 Million domestic against a $70 Million budget,) or Blast from the Past ($26.5 Million domestic)? The first two of those were after The Mummy hit, by the way. Fraser is a capable performer who will never hurt a film, but no more than that.

Brandon Scott: I think it's hard not to look at him as a box office draw based on the results, though I believe the green screen vehicles seem even more important than him in the lead roles. He's found his niche in adventure films and studios have his back.

Scott Lumley: In his Mummy Franchise he is a draw, but he hasn't established any other franchises and that's hurting him. He's made way too many artsy films and not enough blockbusters to be carrying a film like Journey to the Center of the Earth. Not a good casting call. Or movie.

Daron Aldridge: He's not a draw when we're using the word as a blanket statement to refer to any type of film. For adventure-type films, he appears fairly solid but really only has Journey to the Center of the Earth and the Mummy films as a track record. His other leading role films are mediocre performers at best, excluding George of the Jungle, but that was 11 years ago.

Reagen Sulewski: I think he's a little bit in danger of being typecasted as the goofy action guy who yells a lot. Which is maybe not the worst thing ever, but it's not always the most stable career. I don't think we get to "The Mummy 5: Mummies, Mummies, Mummies!", for instance.

Pete Kilmer: Reagen, don't be so sure. They signed everyone to a two picture deal for The Mummy franchise.

David Mumpower: Thereby guaranteeing Mummy IV: Mummy Dearest!

Shane Jenkins: No...wire...brain hooks...ever!!!!

Dave, don't go away mad. Just go away.

Kim Hollis: North American audiences were unwilling to Meet Dave. The film with a reported $55 million budget earned $5.3 million. What was Fox thinking?

Calvin Trager: Before: We're all going to be rich!
After: Oh shit!

Brandon Scott: Puff. Puff. Pass. That's what must have been happening during this production meeting. Too bad such a talent as Murphy continues to go to waste. Perhaps this will be his final straw in doing the mainstream "family" comedy and he can return to his edgier roots of Delirious and Beverly Hills Cop. A man can dream, right?

Scott Lumley: I can't even imagine what they were thinking. The premise seems interesting enough, and done right could have been really funny and a hit. Naturally, they dumbed this down as far as they possibly could and then completely blew the marketing campaign. The segment with the little crew member falling into the coffee and then cracking wise to the holder of said coffee killed this film stone dead. Seriously, whoever let that abomination out of the marketing department should be shot. From a cannon. Into space.

Daron Aldridge: Possible thought process: "Hmmm. Let's see: Eddie Murphy in multiple roles with a weird accent. It worked for Norbit and the Nutty Professor films. Besides, he made a ton of money for us with Dr. Dolittle." Depending on what budget numbers you believe, Fox may have just snatched the bomb of the year title from Warner Bros.' Speed Racer.

David Mumpower: I presume Fox was thinking that after Dreamgirls and Norbit, Eddie Murphy was bulletproof once more. Given the mercurial nature of North America's box office relationship with Murphy, however, one that rivals his turbulent relationship with Scary Spice, this was a huge mistake. This is particularly true of a project that bears a striking surface level resemblance to The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

Kim Hollis: I'll admit it. I'm a bit surprised it didn't do better. People reacted extremely positively to the trailer when it was shown in theaters (much to my dismay). I think in the end that Fox just didn't know what to do with this. Should they market it as a weird comedy or should they pitch it as a family flick? I think kids were ready to buy in and go see the film, but adults weren't agreeing.

Reagen Sulewski: I have to think the people greenlighting Eddie Murphy movies don't have any better idea than anyone else what's going to hit, although there did seem to be a particular lack of confidence here on Fox's part once they'd made it. My guess is that Eddie never touches another film with sci-fi elements in it for the rest of his career.

Max Braden: Switch out the actor; even after weak performances like Semi-Pro and the Love Guru, I could see a studio taking a chance on the Meet Dave idea with Will Ferrell or Mike Myers or Adam Sandler. Murphy's recent filmography makes him a sensible choice too. I think the idea just had a thinner margin of error to succeed, and this one didn't.

Tim Briody: This is the type of performance that makes you remember why marketing is important. There's probably nothing offensively bad about this movie, but I really don't think anyone was even aware it existed.

Duh. It's the fat suits.

Kim Hollis: What is the difference between something like Norbit and another film like Meet Dave that has consumers saying, "Ooh, I'll see this" versus "Oh, hell no."? Why is there such an inconsistency in Eddie Murphy projects?

Max Braden: The main difference I saw was in advertising. Norbit ads were everywhere before it came out. I only saw one trailer for Meet Dave, and it was in theaters.

Tim Briody: That's "Academy Award nominee Norbit" to you people.

David Mumpower: Kim, I think that's a brilliant question and if you have an answer, you should immediately be hired as Murphy's agent. What separates Daddy Day Care from Holy Man? I have no idea. Norbit has no business being more successful than Bowfinger yet it earned $30 million more anyway. We're sending him such a mixed message about his projects.

Scott Lumley: I actually cut Edie Murphy a lot of slack. You have to admit he takes a lot of chances (not always smart ones, mind you) with his projects and he's very capable of turning in some interesting and sympathetic characters. I think he's a bit hamstrung by the fact that he wants to make family friendly comedy and the fact that he was caught soliciting transvestite prostitutes. Eddie really needs to just find the right script and cut loose a little more and I think he's gonna be fine. (Although after Meet Dave and Pluto Nash, he's seriously destroying his credibility.)

Daron Aldridge: Is this bomb a result of backlash for knocking up a Spice Girl and then denying paternity? Or maybe it didn't appeal to anyone at all as the advertising made it very difficult to determine who the target audience truly was. There wasn't anything in Meet Dave for the fans of fart, obesity, and racial stereotype jokes who rushed to see Norbit.

Sean Collier: High on the lists of explanations for the failure of Meet Dave is a bewilderingly inept marketing campaign. The vast majority of posters and theater displays for Meet Dave contained nothing whatsoever about the film, just a big Eddie Murphy head over the title of the film. Add to that the fact that Murphy didn't even bother to promote the film himself and you've got a total marketing failure.

Shane Jenkins: All I know is, I'm pretty sure there is this pent-up demand to see Murphy back in R-rating territory. Why hide that talent for profanity under a bushel? If he makes the rumored R-rated Beverly Hills Cop sequel, I believe it's going to be huge. Next summer's NowhereLand, though? Yawn.

Kim Hollis: I wonder if projects like Meet Dave aren't what has inspired Murphy to retire from acting once he's finished with Beverly Hills Cop IV. He seems really dissatisfied with the state of his career, and probably should be frustrated to some degree. He's been on the verge of being an Academy Award winner, but now he's just back to Pluto Nash-y garbage. I think we know he's not completely limited as a performer because he's shown flashes of brilliance in stuff like Bowfinger. He just seems to limit himself to bad career choices and the cumulative effect is that bad feelings from Norbit carry over.

Reagen Sulewski: That move to PG territory with Doctor Dolittle has to feel like a bit of a Faustian bargain now. "We'll extend your career by ten years, but.... mwhahahahahahaha!"

Pete Kilmer: I think Norbit appealed to a completely different Eddie Murphy audience than Meet Dave did. It was also a much more accessible story than Meet Dave. Eddie has a huge range as we saw in Dreamgirls and the Nutty Professor movies. Look again at the scene in the club where Professor Klump is getting attacked by the comedian - that was damned good. Eddie needs to stop taking the paychecks and start making stuff that will challenge him.

Hi, I'm Hancock. Remember me?

Kim Hollis: Hancock earned another $32.1 million this weekend. A decline of 49% gives it $164.1 million after two weekends in release. Is this better, worse or about what you expected for the film?

David Mumpower: As I chronicled in Daily Box Office Analysis, I had expected more of the film in its first five days, but it's about where I expected it to be after 12 days, maybe even a bit better. Perhaps most impressively, this is the first time since Johnny Depp's work on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest that a lead actor has had two straight $200 million movies (assuming Hancock doesn't suddenly collapse). Ian McKellen, the Harry Potter crowd (including Gary Oldman) and some voice animation folks could make the claim, but this is the first time in a couple of years where one person was clearly the draw in both titles. Will Smith is the Beatles of the movie world right now.

Shane Jenkins: Does that mean that Adam Sandler is the Rolling Stones of the movie world? Sympathy for Little Nicky?

Kim Hollis: I would have thought Hancock would have a 50% drop in weekend two, and that's about what it did. Will Smith is the anti-Eddie Murphy in that he is ploddingly consistent. It's a rare actor who appeals to so many distinct audience types, but he does it.

Daron Aldridge: It's better than I expected for it, given the poor word of mouth that has been circling this movie since its release. The supposed major twist of the movie has been debated ad nauseam and I figured that poor legs would start to show. When considering the slow July 4th Friday box office, then we shouldn't have expected it to drop the 60%+ that would be the normal reflex guess.

Brandon Scott: The decline is slightly better than what was anticipated. I caught the film this weekend and I didn't think all of the negative press was warranted. It's far from a great film but seemed to provide enough fun, laughs and intrigue to keep a summer audience satisfied. Hancock is now flying towards the low $200s in box office and how can you be mad at that?

Scott Lumley: This is way more than I expected, so it's worse as this film is crap and taking away money from good films that deserve it such as Hellboy, The Incredible Hulk and WALL-E. Stop watching this crap people! We're in one of the best movie summers I can ever remember and HANCOCK is how we're choosing to spend our entertainment dollars?

Tim Briody: This was an Onion article once. "Will Smith: The black man everyone at work can agree on."