Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

June 10, 2008

He's changing into the Incredible Hulk before our very eyes.

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Really. Don't mess.

Kim Hollis: You Don't Mess With the Zohan opened to $38.5 million this weekend. If you're Sony would you consider this result good, bad or about average?

Les Winan: I would think that $40 million for a movie with a bizarre title about a Israeli soldier turned hairdresser qualifies as a major success, even if it does star Adam Sandler.

Max Braden: $40 million is a strong opening even in the era of $100+ million openers. But even taking into account the summer season, Zohan had a larger debut than Will Ferrell's Semi-Pro managed to pull in over its entire run in March and April. I'd call that a very good result if I were Sony.

Joel Corcoran: You can't argue with a $40 million opening weekend. It's a good, solid, eminently profitable result. Zohan may not have a big enough run to justify releasing a sequel in theaters, but there's enough of a niche audience to justify a direct-to-DVD release if Adam Sandler agrees to it. And the way his career has stagnated over the past few films, a direct-to-DVD release might be pretty attractive in the future.

Tim Briody: We clearly haven't learned that you don't mess with the friggin' Zohan. This is outstanding and I attribute it entirely to the "foot uppercut" bit from the ads. Comedy gold!

Kim Hollis: I thought this was going to be a sub-$30 million opener, so I would definitely say that Sony should be pleased with where it ended up. I'm a Sandler fan, and there was absolutely nothing in the trailers or commercials that made me want to see the movie. With that said, however, hearing Sandler on the Dan Patrick show on Friday totally made me think, "Isn't he charming? Let's go see his movie."

David Mumpower: I am not certain what Joel meant above about Sandler's career stagnating since it's not at all, but I think that this is exactly the sort of result Sony expected. As John Hamann points out in the Weekend Wrap-Up, Sandler's openings are so consistent we can set our watches by them. The rate of decline of his audience in terms of ticket sales always seems to directly counter ticket price inflation, leaving him in the $35-$40 million range for all his major comedy releases. It's uncanny.


Call him Mr. Reliable.

Kim Hollis: Are you surprised at how consistent Adam Sandler is and that audiences haven't tired of his act by now?

Max Braden: There's always a new class of young males to buy his act. On the other hand, Will Ferrell's ability to draw them in may be waning, and I'll be really surprised if Mike Myers can do it with The Love Guru. Sandler is 41 and still seems to be going strong; by this age, Eddie Murphy had transitioned into kid-friendly films.

Joel Corcoran: I don't know if Adam Sandler's recent history demostrates consistency or stagnation. It seems like he's reached a plateau in his comedic work. He's popular enough to do yeoman's work in decent comedy films, but he's no longer considered edgy or original enough to sustain a comedy blockbuster like Anchorman or Superbad. So he needs to branch out into more dramatic work like Robin Williams did and return to doing films like Spanglish, or he needs to solidify his place in "family friendly comedies" like Eddie Murphy did when he transitioned to Dr. Doolittle, The Nutty Professor, and Shrek. And I don't think most people are tired of Adam Sandler films for the same reasons that most people aren't tired of food from Applebee's or Red Robin. The menu may change from time to time, the food isn't exceptional or worth critical acclaim, but you know you're going to get a pretty decent meal with each visit.

Tim Briody: I can't freaking believe it's been 10 years since The Waterboy. But yeah, I think he's learned overtime what works and what doesn't (see: Little Nicky. better yet, don't.) with his core audience and that's why he's been as consistent as they come with his comedies.

Kim Hollis: I think Sandler is probably one of the smartest guys in the business. He knows precisely what works with his dedicated audience and does whatever it takes to tap into that market. Sometimes it means sacrificing real quality, and I think he accepts that, but he's also balancing that with some other, smaller-scale projects. He's also covering the family fare people here have mentioned with Bedtime Stories this Christmas. And as for Joel's comment that he's not anchoring blockbusters like Anchorman and Superbad, I think it bears noting that Anchorman earned $28.4 million in its opening weekend and Superbad earned $33.1 million. Zohan kills both, and Judd Apatow already has a planned film starring Sandler, which is probably a guaranteed hit.

David Mumpower: Sandler's career is easily explained once we accept the fact that every time a 14-year-old turns 15 and outgrows this style of humor, another nine-year-old boy is turning ten, thereby becoming "grown up" enough to be the new target audience for the next five years. The only solution here is clear. We must eliminate all small children.

James D. Ruccio: This is the biggest surprise of the summer so far for me. I thought Sandler was finished as a headlining actor in a goofy, male oriented film. If you look at his box office, I'd argue that his last comparable movie was Mr. Deeds just under five years ago.

I don't know for sure but I suspect that comedians now, especially SNL spawned, have a handful of successful movies in them before they lose their draw or move onto other things be they production companies or variety in movie choices.

I was right in Sandler's core demo ten years ago and thought he was very creative and funny (a view I no longer share. I think very few of his movies hold up) but I was aghast at the trailer. When you have to resort to Smelly Feet jokes you know your comedy tank has run utterly dry.

I tend to think I have a good handle on why most movies do the business they do but this one leaves me very puzzled. I won't be able to handle it if "The Love Guru" does even half the business...

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