Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
August 1, 2010
Why am I invited to this dinner?Kim Hollis: Dinner for Schmucks, the comedy that reunites Steve Carell and Paul Rudd (who previously worked together in Anchorman and The 40 Year-Old Virgin), earned $23.5 million. How should Paramount feel about this result?
Josh Spiegel: I'd say pretty good. The movie could've opened wider, but the marketing for Dinner for Schmucks has been all over the place. It's either a buddy comedy with Carell and Rudd, or it's an all-out farce with Carell and Zach Galifianakis facing off with mind control, and so on. I feel like the movie probably couldn't have hit a lot harder with audiences, as it's a big comedy with edgy stars, but is from an anti-edgy director in Jay Roach. With The Other Guys coming out next week, though, Paramount is probably going to wish they'd rethought their release date change.
Matthew Huntley: I agree with Josh on his key points, and although advertising for Schmucks was prolific, it still seemed like a difficult movie to market. As Josh alluded to, what the movie was actually being pushed as - either a buddy comedy starring Carell/Rudd or a Carell/Galifianakis face off - wasn't quite clear. It was being sold as both and, going into the weekend, I wondered if some moviegoers would be turned off because they didn't know what to make of it. Clearly, a lot of people weren't and a $23 million opening is a decent start to recouping the reported $60 million production budget (this figure seems high). I don't think Schmucks will turn a huge profit for Paramount, but I think a mid-level hit is in the cards.
Reagen Sulewski: Even though this isn't an Apatow production, it looks like one, which probably contributed to its success. The actors from those films have a remarkable consistent track record going back to The 40-Year-Old Virgin, when they stick in these kinds of roles, and seem fairly immune to reviews (either good or bad at this point). I don't think the somewhat scattershot marketing really mattered much in light of that, as people came to see Carell be annoying, and Rudd be smug. Eventually quality or audience fatigue is going to matter, but for right now these are simple to produce and easy to turn a profit on.
Kim Hollis: I think Paramount might have been hoping for more from this. I would imagine that they at least thought that a #1 finish should have been in the cards, anyway. Paul Rudd is always consistent, and I believe that pairing him with Carell ought to have meant a little more for the box office. The reason this movie probably didn't wind up earning more is that it looked weird...and kind of unpleasant. I know I don't need to see Carell's Michael Scott character dialed up to 11 but this is exactly what Dinner for Schmucks seemed to offer. It's a missed opportunity, I think, but not a huge missed opportunity.