Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
September 27, 2011
Kim Hollis: The long-in-development Moneyball opened to $19.5 million this weekend. Do you view this as a good result for a baseball movie or a lackluster result for a movie with so many surface similarities to The Social Network?
Brett Beach: I see nearly a half-dozen ways this is a success and none that it is a failure: Another (near) $20 million opening for Brad Pitt. One of the best openings for a baseball-themed movie (and this one doesn't even have that much action) as well as for any sports-themed movie in general. A successful launch for a film long caught in development hell. Best opening for director Bennett Miller (true, he only has two prior films). And a film successful and acclaimed by audiences and critics. I also noted the surface similarities with TSN (as I am sure we all did) and I see no reason why it won't have equally strong legs, perhaps making it to $100 million if Oscar nominations are forthcoming. If a return trip to the Oscars is in the cards for Aaron Sorkin (who receives credit along with Steven Zaillian) then it's a testament to his ability to enter a milieu filled with technical lingo and make it sing and entertain. I wouldn't look at the near tie with Dolphin Tale as taking the shine off this curveball, but as evidence of the kind of rare September weekend it was - where three movies, two of them family-themed, could make close to $20 million or more.
Edwin Davies: I'm struggling to view this as anything other than a good result. You could only find fault with it if you were expecting it to open to more than $30 million, which it was never likely to do owing to the type of film that it is. It wouldn't have taken much for this film to have gone completely off the rails. The wrong script or a different director and this film never makes $20 million in its entire run. Instead, we got a film about a very technical aspect of baseball that wouldn't really mean anything to people who aren't aware of the original story that somehow manages to be not only accessible - which is no mean feat - but genuinely uplifting and rousing. Much like The Social Network before it, the mere fact that the film works is a staggering success in itself, and that it has opened to a solid figure and will most likely have decent legs, based on the reviews and the A Cinemascore, strikes me as a fine start to Moneyball's Oscar campaign.
Bruce Hall: As usual, I failed to get up early enough in the afternoon to keep Brett from making all the good points first. I do think that this is a very good result for a baseball film whose fundamental premise was not entirely clear. And considering how long this thing really had been toiling in the ninth level of development hell, we certainly can't discount that. But I love Brad Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman enough to overlook the fact that Jonah Hill is in this, so perhaps I'm biased. I'm not expecting a lot, but considering the good word-of -mouth Moneyball is getting, I'm very curious to see what kind of second frame it has.