Monday Morning Quarterback

By BOP Staff

September 16, 2008

Do you know this #16 is in the huddle? Are we sure that's not just a fan?

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Book burners can totally get behind this movie title.

Kim Hollis: Burn After Reading, the latest film from the Coen brothers, opened to $19.1 million. Given the star power of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, is this a good result, a mediocre result, or was money left on the table?

Max Braden: It's Clooney and Pitt, but I don't think anyone expected an opening the size of Ocean's Twelve or Thirteen. Even without the Coen name on the movie, I think most audiences recognized this as more of a spoof than straight up comedy. But $19 million is probably better than expected for this material. The Oscar pedigree of McDormand, Malkovich, and Swinton probably helped measurably.

Pete Kilmer: People can tell when George and Brad are doing the 'odd' movies. So yeah I think the opening for this movie is pretty solid, despite its lukewarm reviews.

Reagen Sulewski: It's well above the average for the Coens, which is the baseline that I used for it. I never got the sense that this was being marketed as a Clooney movie or a Pitt movie, but as a Coen movie. Their personalities came out through the ads as the dominant one. And given how some of those have turned out (see: Intolerable Cruelty), this is a pretty big win. In any case, I think it's interesting that as famous as Clooney and Pitt are, they've been in a lot of movies that barely had an impact at the box office, and weren't even considered bombs for doing so.


David Mumpower: I see this as a phenomenal opening and I think the fascinating issue is who should take the credit. Are the Coen Brothers more popular due to No Country for Old Men or is it the Pitt/Clooney factor? The Ladykillers, a Tom Hanks vehicle, only opened to $12.6 million while Clooney's last outing with them, the aforementioned Intolerable Cruelty, did similarly with a $12.5 million debut. While this isn't working as a de facto Ocean's 14: The Idiots, I still have to believe that No Country changed the perception of the Coen Brothers as a credible source for hit entertainment.

Brandon Scott: I am deciding whether or not I will burn the DVD after watching it. (It's a joke people, I don't promote the piracy of art!) Given that it is the Coens' largest opening weekend ever, I would say it is a big success. They have had many of these stars in their films previously and still not reached that figure, so good for them I guess.

Daron Aldridge: My vote goes for "good result" because the public's reluctance to embrace the Coen brothers brand of comedy while in theaters. Clooney and Pitt probably helped make this as accessible as they can get. Let's ignore the Intolerable Cruelty misfire. I think they also got those people who were craving a trip back to early '90s Brad Pitt (circa Johnny Suede and Cool World) with the tall, blond pompadour. He looks like he hasn't aged in 16 years.

Jason Lee: This has to be considered a huge success for the Coen Brothers and everyone involved. I think this movie had many opportunities to fall between the cracks and not boast a strong enough appeal within any one demographic. It's a Coen brothers film that wasn't reviewed especially well. It's a comedy about stupid people made by very smart people. It's got a A-list cast but directors that historically don't make a lot of money on opening weekend.

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