Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
January 21, 2009
A lot of people thought it was a remake of the Hitchcock classicKim Hollis: Notorious, the biopic of Biggie Smalls, opened to $21.5 million, with a per venue average of $13,126. How did Fox Searchlight accomplish such a remarkable result?
Joel Corcoran: Fox Searchlight didn't have to do much to make this film a hit, though I will give them credit for some brilliant (and understated) marketing. The musical life of Biggie Smalls alone would be compelling enough for a biopic - he was the key figure at the center of East Coast hip-hop - but his role in the East Coast/West Coast feud, his complicated history with Tupac Shakur, and the tragedy of his death lifts his whole life story to an even higher dramatic plane. The Notorious B.I.G. was to hip-hop what Elvis Presley was to rock n' roll. Or Johann Sebastian Bach was to classical music. All Fox Searchlight had to do was make sure the film was decently directed and produced, then release it. Dedicated hip-hop fans, or even people just curious about Biggie Smalls, did the rest.
Brandon Scott: I saw this on a slightly advanced preview on Thursday and was not impressed. The box office result is strong, perhaps surprisingly so, but the movie is butchered and offers only a straightforward narrative of events that even casual hip-hop fans already know about BIG. Anthony Mackie as Tupac is particularly distressing and the movie really paints the West Coast at fault for alot of the "beefing" and Biggie is marked as a patron saint. It is clear that no chances were taken in the making of this film. Cue the soft-lighting! Absurd.
Sean Collier: I'm not sure why a serious look at Biggie's life would be expected, though. Hip-Hop is all about mixing myth with reality, and injecting even more bravado into that - B.I.G.'s life is more about the legend than the reality, anyway. As to how it happened - Diddy is rich because he crafted The Notorious B.I.G. into one of the most compelling characters in pop music history. Anything with his name or face will make money.
Max Braden: This is a flame that has been kept alive the the music industry since his death, in part by the presence of his mother. It's a little surprising that this project hadn't been done until now. I doubt a project on Heath Ledger would do as well, in general because I think tributes to musicians (Ray, Johnny Cash) work better than tributes to fallen actors (Hollywoodland?). But it also makes sense to me that the attention would go to B.I.G more than say Aliyah.
David Mumpower: While everyone is right that a Biggie biopic should have done well, I disagree with the notion that its success is right in line with expectations. Get Rich Or Die Tryin', the only other recent comparison we have for this one, debuted at $12.0 million and wound up with domestic receipts of just under $31 million. Notorious is at $24 million after four days. The difference in scale is again dramatic. Clearly, this story was more impacting than the one about how the dude wound up getting shot about every other year of his life. Bullet wounds are less engaging than fatalities, I guess. That's the lesson I'm taking from Biggie vs. 50 Cent.
Reagen Sulewski: Dying remains one of the most solid career moves a young artist can make.