Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
August 20, 2014

If this isn't a Disney movie by 2017, people should be fired.

Kim Hollis: Let's Be Cops, a comedy featuring New Girl stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr., earned $17.8 million this weekend and has a $26.2 million total since its Wednesday opening. What do you think about this result?

Brett Ballard-Beach: With a $17 million budget, this has its feet firmly planted in the win column. Although once again, by opening this mid-week and allowing not-so-hot word of mouth 48 hours to take hold, this was denied the chance to take at least the runner-up slot for the weekend and, not inconceivably, swipe the top spot from the Turtles. I think the big winner of August has turned out to be next summer's Jurassic World, whose leads Chris Pratt and Jake Johnson have now both anchored unexpectedly big big-screen hits.

Bruce Hall: Is "vindication" too strong a word here? Let’s Be Cops has been savaged by critics, who smelled blood when the film was not screened in advance. This, combined with some truly awful trailers, suggested a brainless and indifferently made summer comedy tailor made to shave months off your life and points off your IQ.

And apparently, that's exactly what audiences were in the mood for this weekend, despite some unfortunate law enforcement related news in the headlines over the past week. But there was never any doubt what kind of movie this was going to be, and clearly nobody who saw it took it so seriously.

What we should take seriously is the fact that Let’s Be Cops, despite lacking in comparable star power, opened similarly or superior to such recent misfires such as Sex Tape, Blended, and A Million Ways to Die at the Box Office in the West. Even more important, Let's Be Cops has already covered its production budget. Being the top new release of the week is gravy.

Come to think of it, "vindication" might be an understatement.

Edwin Davies: This is a very good opening but, like Brett, I can't help but think that the mid-week opening prevented Let's Be Cops from getting the glory of being number two or even number one at the box office. That's probably not that big of deal since the film has recouped its modest budget, which is impressive in itself since, as has been pointed out, Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson aren't the biggest stars at the moment, but the bragging rights and the headlines could have been good for another couple of million further down the line.

Kim Hollis: Given the budget and the fact that most people aren’t really familiar with Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. (their loss), this is a stellar result. It’s certain to be a profitable venture for the studio, and negative reviews and word-of-mouth didn’t impact it much if at all. And it gets to claim superiority over The Expendables 3, too.

Max Braden: I think that's a decent result. Obviously it falls short of the $35-36 million opening buddy cop movies 21 Jump Street in the spring of 2012 and The Other Guys in August 2010, but those two movies had better movie star weight. Let's Be Cops won the weekend among the new movies, but given that two holdovers beat it and it had weak reviews, I think this opening will be a brief victory followed by a steep drop off. I could see it picking up in rental business later on.

Kim Hollis: The Giver, an adaptation of the classic YA novel from Lois Lowry, earned $12.3 million this weekend. What do you think of this result?

Brett Ballard-Beach: I feel for the makers of this film (particularly star Jeff Bridges, who I read has been attempting to get this to the screen since shortly after its publication in 1993): Here is a story (in full disclosure, unread by me) that is critically acclaimed and a generation of young adults grew up reading and that probably influenced a chunk of YA hits over the last two decades. It finally gets made - most likely because of the current cinematic vogue for all things YA - and of course it can't help but seem derivative, particularly since they have "spruced" up some elements to make it more like some of The Giver's antecedents. Still it opened better than The Host, and with only a $25 million budget, it should be able to make that back and then some between domestic and foreign.

Bruce Hall: I think a lot of people considered The Giver and thought, "I've already seen this movie, and I hated it."

As Brett pointed out, that's probably unfair since the novel on which The Giver is based considerably predates such recent creations as The Mortal Instruments and Beautiful Creatures. But just as with comic book movies, you can't necessarily count on a majority of your audience to be familiar with the source material.

For many people, The Giver looked like derivative pulp - and a wealth of poor reviews hasn't helped. For actual fans of the book, significant changes to the source material (quite possibly meant to mimic its more recent cousins) might have been a fatal turn off.

Still, with a modest $30 million budget, The Giver may yet become a profitable disappointment. Even The Mortal Instruments - widely reviled as it was - managed to pull in $75 million worldwide.

Edwin Davies: This reminds me a little bit of the problem John Carter faced two and a bit years ago; when the source material is so influential that it shapes and informs an entire genre, it has little chance of being distinctive if it makes it to the big screen after all its offspring have already beaten it to the punch. The fact that the film got terrible reviews and the ads made it look dull and staid didn't help any, and neither did the changes to the story, which would have annoyed the very fans that the film hoped to attract. The low budget should mean that it doesn't end being a fiasco in the same way that a lot of YA adaptations have been, but it's a pretty shoddy way to treat the grandaddy of the genre.

Max Braden: I know nothing about the source material for this movie. From what little I saw of the ads, it looked like a vague touchy-feely movie that was doomed. And as Bruce said, I regrettably watched The Host already. With any luck a performance like this will help bring the angst-driven genre to an end after peaking in the Twilight years. (Of course I'm biased here - $12 million isn't much smaller than the $15 million for The Expendables 3, and that's a genre I want to see survive.)

Kim Hollis: I do think it’s a shame that so many advocates for this film so badly wanted to see it on the big screen for so many years now, and the movie they got is not up to hopes and expectations. The Giver is one of those books that I’ve heard mentioned as amongst the best in Young Adult literature since its release 20+ years ago. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of subject matter that would have been successful in the 1990s or perhaps even the 2000s, but waiting until 2014 to finally translate the story to the big screen just made it seem like a copycat of every other teen-targeted dystopic story. With all that said, it’s probably going to make a small profit. It just feels like a missed opportunity.