Monday Morning Quarterback

By BOP Staff

November 6, 2007

I think he just ran another 100 yards while I wasn't looking.

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It's all about the Washington

Kim Hollis: American Gangster opened to a scintillating $46.3 million, making it the biggest opener of both Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe's careers. What makes this movie so much of a must-see opening weekend performer than the men's prior projects?

Joel Corcoran: I was impressed (and mildly surprised) that American Gangster had such a strong opening. I think the combination of seeing Washington and Crowe playing characters in conflict against each other and a great story also made this movie such a big draw. Both actors are very forceful personalities, and both have done well in movies focusing on a single character (e.g., Man on Fire, Training Day, Gladiator, and Master & Commander). But this film is one of the few times we've seen either Denzel or Russell matched up against an equally forceful and talented actor. Also, the story is very intriguing. It's based on historical events that not many people are familiar with, and it's a twist on the traditional gangster movie.

Pete Kilmer: It's Denzel playing a charming yet bad man a la Training Day. That's what people went to go see. Russell Crowe as the cop after him is just icing on the cake.


Kim Hollis: I agree that the powerhouse combination of Washington and Crowe is really at play here. The trailer was white hot and highlighted the dichotomy of the characters the two men would be playing. Washington is always consistent and I think audiences can sense when Crowe has done something special - he's carrying over a lot of goodwill from 3:10 to Yuma as well.

Dan Krovich: Could it be time of year? There were plenty of adult oriented drama/action/thrillers this fall that failed to connect to this level. 3:10 to Yuma, The Brave One, The Kingdom, Michael Clayton all had what you would consider movie stars in them. Or was American Gangster the first one of these films to also connect with younger viewers?

David Mumpower: In addition to the other astute points others have made here, I also believe that the Movie Vacuum theory we have also played a key part. If you are not a fan of Saw movies, there has not been a legitimate blockbuster movie choice in quite some time, arguably since summer, even. Both Bee Movie and American Gangster benefit from the fact that after two months of blockbuster fatigue, we have just experienced two of the most disappointing months of movie releases in the past decade if not longer.

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