Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

December 15, 2009

Let's play keep away from Cooper!

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Kim Hollis: Invictus, Clint Eastwood's movie about rugby and Nelson Mandela, opened to $8.6 million. Should Warner Bros. be happy with this result?

Josh Spiegel: Considering that Invictus is about...well, rugby and Nelson Mandela, I don't know that Warner Bros. should have expected anything more than, at most, $10 million. They've been marketing the movie for a month, but it is still about something that most Americans aren't very familiar with. Yes, the film's a sports movie, but The Blind Side is probably stealing some of the sports crowd still. Warner Bros. is more likely concerned with Oscars, not blockbuster numbers.

Max Braden: That's right in line with the first wide release weekends for Changeling and Flags of Our Fathers, both of which grossed totals in the low $30 millions. Invictus will probably follow the same pattern. I don't think anybody was expecting the $100 million-plus numbers that Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino earned.

George Rose: Since this will likely experience a long run in theaters and receive several award nominations (if not also the awards), the studio should be happy. There isn't a large rush factor for films with awards acclaim and expected legs, and this is more than enough to secure a decent run. It's already on course to earn more than Precious, so that should help declare this a success. While it currently doesn't shed a light next to Eastwood's other Oscar bait projects, it has massive potential. It might not be his next Million Dollar Baby or Mystic River, but the stink that was left after Changeling will definitely fade after Invictus leaves the theaters.


Matthew Huntley: I don't think Warner Bros. should be happy with this result, but they shouldn't be too upset, either. Given Clint Eastwood's track record for award nominations and legs at the box office, the studio is probably confident the film will become profitable somewhere down the road, but given the opening weekend numbers, they'll have to wait longer than they wanted to.

Michael Lynderey: That isn't a very satisfying number, even with whatever Oscar legs this film can glean in the next few weeks. I'd blame the release strategy: Invictus clearly should've been a platform release, and going wide right off the bat hurt its momentum. In fact, the whole weekend just doesn't seem very well thought out, does it? Typically, this time of year can be used to launch a blockbuster or two (see 2007: I Am Legend and the Chipmunks), and it's kind of a waste of space that a studio didn't slot anything in and get a few weeks of extra business (my favorite candidate for that treatment, according to my brain if not my heart: The Squeakquel).

Tom Macy: I think they're pleased. Clearly an awards contender, this one's going to hang around for awhile. I don't know how he does it, but Clint's direct, no-frills approach to storytelling somehow avoids being simplistic and trite and achieves this boldness that feels very complex and mature (like my A. O. Scott impression?). So his films are easily accessible but carry enough substance to satisfy more discerning audiences. This is a perfect combination for a leggy awards-aimed run. I wouldn't be surprised if this followed the path of Million Dollar Baby, if perhaps to a slightly less successful tune. Invictus isn't as strong a film, though the ending is, oh, just a touch less of a downer. Plus Morgan Freeman's performance as Mandela is instantly on the short list of Best Actor contenders; in fact, he was probably already on that list the day he signed on, and he does
not disappoint.

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