Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
October 19, 2010
Bruce Hall: I think the fact that Mystic River was considered Best Picture material is all the proof you need that anything with "Directed by Clint Eastwood" on the marquee is going to be in the conversation. Whether or not this will apply in the literal sense to Hereafter depends on how much this movie will "touch" people. According to the official synopsis, we've got a blue collar tough guy, a beautiful woman and an adorable child who all are touched by death, and are compelled by fate to come together in what will no doubt be a very moving and emotional way. It sounds like a "chick flick" but the names Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon are associated with it, so as a guy you sort of HAVE to take notice - especially if you're over 30 and have a girlfriend/wife.
As far as long term prospects, I'm not sure you can tell much from this weekend. I think Josh makes a good point in suggesting that when a film of this pedigree opens in such exclusive fashion, you kind of have to skew the numbers toward the enthusiast demographic. Then again, let's do some math. Hereafter opens in 2,200 locations next week. Gran Torino opened in wide release to 2,808 venues, for an average of $10,500. I think you'll agree that this number is a highly unlikely target for Hereafter. Meanwhile Invictus opened to 2,125 screens for an average of $4,052. I am sure you can see where I am going with this - to kind of echo Matthew's reasoning, I think we can expect Hereafter to fall somewhere on the lower end of that.
Gran Torino was a box office tour-de-force whereas Invictus filled a smaller niche. It is the sort of project that my parents and critics gush over but that I am less enthusiastic about - an important and necessary film but more uplifting and cerebral than viscerally entertaining. I am not sure Hereafter will be either of these, and to be sure we're talking about apples and oranges here. But financially speaking, if I had to guess, I would say that it will fall somewhere just North of the $37 million Invictus tallied domestically. But unless it is an outright box office disaster, I think that almost by reflex we're going to see this movie discussed when Oscar time rolls around.
Brett Beach: I echo most of what has been said thus far. In terms of subject matter, star and director, this is nothing at all like a sure shot. I never read too much into the exclusive NY/LA openings only one week before going wide because if the studio were truly unsure as to whether the grosses would be respectable/per screen average fairly high, they wouldn't take the chance of banking on bad buzz and then going straight to a national rollout. The film's ad campaign walks a fairly tight line between mystical etherality and overwrought solemnity. The film may be best taken as a whole and not able to be put forth in 30 second TV spots or two and a half minute long theater trailers. I see this playing out much like Changeling, with a possibility of veering towards Invictus' grosses, so I'll split the difference and call it $45 million. I don't think it will get any acting/writing/directing/Picture nods, but could get some in the technical categories. Having said that, I may see the film and hail it as the best of the year and be eating my words in 2011.
Reagen Sulewski: What helps this immensely in terms of Oscar potential is that Eastwood is taking on an atypical subject for him, and that it's an "important" one. Of course, let's all remember Beloved.
Ultimately it's going to come down to the box office - funny things happen when films are big hits, as voters figure that moviegoers must be on to something. I just find it difficult to get over the idea of "Matt Damon, medium to the afterlife".
Max Braden: The names will get people through the door, but I think there's a stigma to the sci-fi aspect the movie, whether Damon is the miscast medium or not. Remember when The Lovely Bones was going to be the biggest thing at the Oscars? That movie failed to get nominated for writing/directing/picture, and while it opened at three sites with the same per location average, it settled to a total of $44 million after wide release. That would be more than Invictus brought in, but I wouldn't call that a box office hit. And if it gets nominated for something, I'd put it at the bottom of the odds pile to win.
Reagen Sulewski: The Lovely Bones had no small amount of open mocking prior to its release from critics, though. I've seen a little of the same with Hereafter, but not nearly to the same degree.