Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
August 11, 2009
Well, for starters, she's nicer than Katherine Heigl...Kim Hollis: Why is Meryl Streep more of a box office draw in recent years?
Josh Spiegel: This may be something of a perfect storm for Streep. The last few years, she's not only been in movies that come out in the summer, but they're based on popular books (Devil Wears Prada), musicals (Mamma Mia!), or television stars (Julia Child). Also, she's known for being one of the more reliable working actresses. If she stuck to movies that came out at the holiday season, were more depressing, and were, in general, more artsy, we wouldn't be having this discussion. She's making good moves lately.
Scott Lumley: I agree that Streep may be in a bit of a perfect storm, but she adds to that storm instantly by adding credibility to any project she takes part in. Devil and J+J are strong examples of this. As for Mamma Mia!, I don't think anyone saw the level of success that one generated coming at all.
Josh Spiegel: As much as I hate that movie (and boy, do I ever), it was based on an extremely popular musical, featured a multi-national cast, appealed to women, and had lots of ABBA music (which apparently still does well). I was sad it did well, but not surprised.
Sean Collier: Just to make the point absolutely clear: Mamma Mia! was an abomination. Now that we're past that. I'm pretty sure she's just been around a couple of the right projects. Don't forget that she has three disappointing results in the past two or three years as well - Doubt, Lions for Lambs, and Rendition. She's not a guarantee, but can give a bump to a project that's already going in the right direction.
Josh Spiegel: I'd agree that Streep is no guarantee, but of the three disappointments listed, two were Iraq-related (which is box office poison all around), and the other was a prestige project that was never meant to make big bucks; seeing as it got her another Oscar nod, I don't consider Doubt a disappointment.
Kim Hollis: Josh, I'm with you on Doubt. I can't think that it's a disappointment, particularly when you consider the awards attention it received. Also, it more than made back its budget. That's a limited-release type movie that did pretty solid box office.
David Mumpower: I find her reinvention as a box office force quite remarkable. A fascinating bit of box office trivia is that until the 2004 release of The Manchurian Candidate, the largest opening weekend for a Meryl Streep film was Death Becomes Her, which is generally remembered as a disastrous performer. That title debuted at $12.1 million in 1992 and was absolutely blistered by critics yet the only other title in which she appeared that did better was A.I. Artificial Intelligence. And she was but a semi-cameo in that as the voice of The Blue Fairy. In her storied career, she had exactly three box office hits up until the last five years. Those titles were Kramer Vs. Kramer, Out of Africa and The Bridges of Madison County. Everything else championed the idea that she's a critical darling who eschewed mainstream cinema. That's why I amazed that she has had four $20+ million openers over the past five years, starting with The Manchurian Candidate and now including Julie & Julia. She's finally found a way to blend her remarkable gifts with marketable yet tolerable (for her) studio features. Why has this happened? I would argue that it's because of a single whispery scene in The Devil Wears Prada that was cleverly implemented as an entire trailer. Since then, all of Streep's admirers have come out of the woodwork and started showing up on opening weekend...and well beyond. It's like a lifetime of indie credit has been paid in full with five years worth of box office success.