Monday Morning Quarterback

By BOP Staff

August 21, 2007

Colin Firth says Go Arsenal!

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Have you ever heard of The Invasion?

Kim Hollis: The Invasion earned only $6 million this weekend, which doesn't even pay for the $10 million in reshoots they performed in January. With a budget approaching $70 million, can't this movie stake a claim as biggest bomb of 2007? Why do you think it failed so miserably?

Michael Bentley: Well, granted I don't watch a lot of TV anymore, but I haven't seen a single ad for this movie. I don't know if just wasn't marketed much or if I just wasn't seeing them. But given its abysmal critical reviews, I'm guessing the studio knew it had a stinker.

Jim Van Nest: I'm by no means a numbers guy. I know very little about budgets and openings and how everything correlates. I leave that stuff to the smart guys at BOP. What I do know, however, is that even as a staff member at a rather large movie site, I've never heard of The Invasion. It wasn't until I was looking at the weekend recap that I even knew the movie existed. Again, I'm not a numbers guy, but that can't be good, can it?

Max Braden: I think if by some miracle the critics had praised it as a scary movie, audiences might have gone, but I think everyone - studio, critics, audiences - had that sixth sense that this was going to be a dud and just abandoned it. On top of that, I wonder if we're all pretty much over Kidman. I hate to say so, having been a fan in the early years, but does anyone really decide to see movies because she's in lead anymore?

Reagen Sulewski: Change "anymore" to "ever" and you've got it. She's always been long on style and acting chops, but rarely if ever has this translated into box office. She's been in some hits, but almost never as the main draw. The Others would be the closest to that. Even Moulin Rouge wasn't about her as much as it was about the entire package.

Dan Krovich: Maybe a box office-proof career was part of her divorce agreement with Tom Cruise.

David Mumpower: Some of these discussions aren't complicated. In the case of The Invasion, the studio abandoned it. That's all there is to it.


Wait, wait. So you've sort of heard of The Invasion. But have you heard of The Last Legion?

Kim Hollis: Before we cede the biggest bomb of the summer title to The Invasion, maybe we should consider The Last Legion. It earned only $2.6 million against a budget of $67 million. Be honest, did you even know this movie existed?

Tim Briody: The what? Cost that much? Someone is so fired.

Calvin Trager: The thing is, it has a killer premise - basically a King Arthur backstory - and is well-cast to make money overseas. I'm sure they were hoping to make a bigger splash in the US, but I'll still allow some chance that Last Legion ends up in the black when all receipts are counted.

Michael Bentley: In a word: no. I did not know this movie existed. Who's in it?

Kim Hollis: *sigh* It's a largely British cast, including one of my personal favorites, Colin Firth. The Weinsteins simply cannot market films anymore. I do suspect it will have better success overseas as Calvin mentioned.

Jim Van Nest: Add me to the "nope, never heard of it" column.

Max Braden: Am I a supernerd for admitting that I've been waiting for this movie to come out for a while? A bunch of years ago I read an interview with Kingsley where he said he wanted to play a military commander, and I was interested to find out he was doing The Last Legion. So I knew it was coming, and I actually saw a trailer for it on tv. But even though Kingsley and the subject matter interests me, I wound up seeing Sunshine instead.

David Mumpower: Who is Colin Firth and what is The Last Legion? Is this another British music invasion? What do they sing?

$67 million for this? Was it produced by Countrywide Financial?

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song?

Kim Hollis: Judd Apatow was recently quoted as saying, "I think a genuinely funny movie always has a shot at doing well, because so few movies are really funny."

Do you agree with this opinion?

Marty Doskins: I think I would generally agree with this opinion. The thing that is hard for the movie makers to do is to make a movie funny without going over the top. They have to walk a pretty fine line. If there is too much bathroom humor, you lose an older crowd. If the humor is too sophisticated, the youngsters with all the cash won't want to go. If you take a look at a typical Hugh Grant movie audience, there aren't too many young people in the crowd. His films do well with critics and have decent numbers at the box office, but generally don't have a HUGE box office take. Now look at something like the Austin Powers series. There is enough low-brow humor without totally dragging it into the gutter. People enjoyed the amount of silliness in these films and they did extremely well.

Michael Bentley: Oh yeah, I agree. It's easy to tell a single joke or two, or to make something a little bit funny. But really funny is much harder to achieve. That said, I don't believe that the converse is true: just because something isn't funny doesn't mean it won't do well.

Jim Van Nest: I totally agree and I think a lot of it has to do with movie makers shooting for mass-appeal. Look at Ace Ventura, Austin Powers, the Farrelly Bros...all pretty low brow humor, but they don't pretend to be anything else. If you're going for dick and fart jokes...then go all the way and make the funniest dick and fart jokes you can think of.

If you're going for more intelligent humor (and Hugh Grant is a great example...from above) then don't mix in any dick and fart jokes. Leave the gross out humor to another movie and focus in on what you're main theme is.

It's when people try to mix in brands of humor that things go awry, in my opinion. When I'm in the mood for Airplane, I don't want a few Annie Hall type jokes mixed in. And when I'm watching Annie Hall, I don't want any poop jokes. Try to mix this stuff and you alienate BOTH audiences, I think.

Max Braden: I'm paraphrasing someone else (whom I forget, sorry) here: there's no such thing as a bad joke, it's just that you need the right audience to get a laugh. So sure, something really funny is going to get a good response, but how to define funny for everyone is the trick. Charlie Chaplin and Billy Wilder are a couple of history's funniest entertainers, but their work just wouldn't be blockbuster material these days. It's too whimsical by today's standards. The British have produced solidly funny work (Richard Curtis et al) for years, and there's an audience for it, but not on the order of some of the big hits we've seen. Unfortunately, even they've crossed into gross out humor - Death at a Funeral throws in a scene with some really crude toilet humor that seems out of step with the rest of its wink-wink-nudge-nudge comedy.

Jerry Simpson: I'm not sure if that's what Judd meant. I read the quote to mean that really funny movies will be a hit regardless of budget, marketing, etc because people will find them. Whereas really good other genres have a harder time finding an audience.

David Mumpower: I guess it depends on how tightly we interpret his phrasing. Every movie has a shot at doing well if it's marketed well. Similarly, every good movie has a better chance than a lousy one. Just being funny isn't anywhere near enough on its own, though. If it were, EuroTrip would have been a blockbuster for the Scotty Doesn't Know bit alone.

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