Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
July 27, 2010

Why yes, those are daggers Jeff Fisher is shooting with his eyes.

We're #1! We're #1!

Kim Hollis: With the $36 million debut for Salt, where does Angelina Jolie place with regards to top female stars? Is she at the top, or is it someone else, like Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock (or someone else we're not considering)?

Matthew Huntley: As far as female action roles are concerned, I would definitely place Angelina Jolie at the top. The only other actresses that comes to mind for this title are (maybe) Scarlett Johannson, Halle Berry or Zoe Saldana, but even they seem like a stretch. Generally speaking, though, as the top female performer across all genres, I wouldn't necessarily place Jolie at the top, because she doesn't always sell tickets for dramas. I believe Meryl Streep has more clout in that department, and Streep's power can also translate to comedies. Other actresses to consider are Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and Kate Winslet. Although they don't have as much universal influence, they'd still be a reason viewers go to a movie.

Josh Spiegel: I'm with Matthew here. Movies like Changeling and A Mighty Heart do well to enhance Angelina Jolie's prestige in Hollywood, but they don't bring in big bucks. Meryl Streep is the top performer in comedies and dramas, closely followed (recently) by Sandra Bullock. But action movies are pretty much Jolie's bread and butter. I can't think of a lot of other actresses who could pull off this role.

Tom Houseman: If you were going to tell me there was a movie opening this weekend, and all you were going to tell me was the lead actress, whose name would most impress me? I'd have to say Angelina Jolie. Sandy is hot at the moment, but looking at her recent work other than Blind Side and The Proposal, she's only headlined one movie since Miss Congeniality that broke $55 million domestic: Two Weeks Notice. I think Meryl would be a close second to Angelina, but Ms. Jolie is the clear winner in this category for me, not just in action, but overall.

Tim Briody: She's at the top because she's the only female actress of those you mentioned who can do action right now. There isn't another B+/A-list actress that I can think of right now who could go all Linda Hamilton on us, so Hollywood would have to present us with someone who isn't as big a star or is playing something out of their wheelhouse, and I'm not sure the public would accept that.

Reagen Sulewski: I think it's unquestionably Jolie, in the fact that she can do basically anything. Bullock once upon a time could do some small action (think Demolition Man and Speed) but I don't think anyone would buy her in that kind of role anymore. Meanwhile, Jolie can do Serious Drama about as well as anyone else that's her contemporary.

David Mumpower: I think I agree with the sentiment that while Bullock's 2009 was the stuff of myth and legend, it was fluke more than trend. Meanwhile, for all of the praise Heigl gets for being the up and coming romantic comedy lead, she's still only had one movie open to $30 million and that was Knocked Up, which didn't explode because of her. Zoe Saldana is the new person in this conversation, but she is impossible to judge as of yet since her three most recent films are two slam dunk blockbusters, Star Trek and Avatar, and one low budget/low expectations action film, The Losers (now available on DVD/Blu-Ray!).

Scarlett Johansson was fun in Iron Man 2, but let's be realistic about the fact that her resume is comprised of a bunch of $25 million domestic performers. The one time where she was asked to carry a film as a female action lead, The Island, did not end well. While I'm not sure Jolie could carry a lousy romantic comedy to $67 million like Aniston did with The Bounty Hunter, I'm absolutely certain Aniston couldn't make a role like Salt work. As hot as Aniston has been over the last couple of years, she is still a couple of rungs below Jolie. I do think the x-factor is Julia Roberts, though. With the exception of The Mexican, it seems like every movie she has made since My Best Friend's Wedding has earned more than expected. Even Valentine's Day's opening weekend can be credited to her at least somewhat.

Beezus sounds like something a person might slur when drunk

Kim Hollis: Ramona and Beezus, the adaptation of a series of beloved Beverly Cleary children's books, opened to $7.8 million. How should Fox feel about this result?

Brett Beach: I am sure they dreamed (relatively) big but in their hearts they were probably expecting a figure like this. Parents with fond memories looking to introduce their children to the characters were the wild card for this breaking out bigger but it seems as if the pleasant but not enthusiastic reviews kept them away. I also have been told that Selena Gomez has a "following" from a Disney series but quick Google research made it seem that the more dominant enthusiasts were largely of the "counting down the days until she turns 18 next month" variety. I figured the film would fall in somewhere along the lines of recent fare like Kit Kittredge ($17 million final) or Nancy Drew ($25 million) and it looks like Ramona and Beezus will finish with around $20 million. And since the film only cost around $15 million to make, Fox is probably looking ahead to DVD and cable and not crying too much. (Quick shout out to Beverly Clearly who still lives in Portland, OR - as do I - where the series was set.)

Matthew Huntley: Fox should feel pretty good about this, especially when you consider the movie's low production budget (reportedly $15 million) and small advertising costs. Were audiences even aware Ramona and Beezus was opening? When did the trailers/TV spots play? Did anybody see any?

Clearly, Fox didn't expect this to open big and they'll get out of it about the same as they put in. By the time the ancillary markets come around, Ramona and Beezus should give the studio a profitable return, but not enough to warrant any bragging rights.

Josh Spiegel: Yeah, this has to be where Fox assumed things would land. Selena Gomez may have a following, but this isn't a Disney movie - it's an adaptation of a series of books I had forgotten existed. For the movie to do this well, with competition from 3-D animation, Fox should be thrilled. Like Kit Kittredge and Nancy Drew, Ramona and Beezus won't set the box office on fire, but it'll do a tidy amount.

Tom Houseman: Where's the Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing adaptation? No seriously, where is it? Do you know, Kim? You do, don't you. I need a Fudge movie in my life. If you're holding out on me, so help me God...

Kim Hollis: Tom, there was a 1995 TV show called Fudge that was adapted from both Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge. It starred no one you've ever heard of except for Eve Plumb. I don't even remember the show, frankly. I figure at some point some studio suit will figure out that all of Judy Blume's teen-targeted books would make great source material if updated for today's audiences. It's just a matter of time. (Incidentally, I had no idea that she had written a Fudge book as recently as 2002. You'll be stunned to hear that Fudge is only five, meaning that he is aging very, very slowly.)

Reagen Sulewski: This is one of those things where the back-end is so much larger than the theatrical that these figures are almost a side issue. I mean, you need the release to not be seen as a flop so that you get respect, but this will live forever as a rental/purchase.