Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
November 15, 2011
Kim Hollis: J. Edgar, the latest Clint Eastwood awards bait release from Warner Bros., opened to $11.2 million this weekend. Is this more, less or about what you expected from the Leonardo DiCaprio film?
Edwin Davies: This is less than I expected it to make before the reviews started coming in, but once word got out that the film, whilst having some considerable positives, is kind of all over the place and ultimately unable to offer much insight into its subject, I re-adjusted my expectations to Hereafter levels. Both Eastwood and DiCaprio's films tend to do very well when there is critical support for them, and only okay when there isn't, with the notable exception of Letters From Iwo Jima, arguably the best film Eastwood's made in the last 20 years, which got great notices but made only $13 million. Then again, that's because it had a much smaller release than the rest of his films during the same time period. The tepid reviews for J. Edgar will knee cap it when it comes to box office, and probably when the Oscar nominations are announced (though it probably will get some technical nods for production design and make-up) but the lack of adult fare in the coming weeks might help it to hold up a little while. Even so, I fully expect it to end up in the $32-37 million range alongside Invictus and Hereafter.
Bruce Hall: I think that Eastwood's name will draw a certain type of early adopter to this film - mainly the type who hunger for self important dramas made by well respected directors who might be flailing a bit commercially. Others will find out there's more sizzle than steak, and stay away. A movie doesn't have to be terrible to be a disappointment. It just has to fall short of your expectations, and certain directors who make certain types of movies automatically set you up with high expectations.
But that's the catch with biopics. They're either great, or they're just something you have to sit through. Can you guess which one J. Edgar is?
Matthew Huntley: Bruce, J. Edgar is mostly "something you have to sit through." It's interesting on some levels, maybe even educational, but it's far from exciting, insightful or eye-opening, and outside of middle-aged adults, I doubt it will find enough of an audience to become a box-office hit. Eastwood has been in a bit of a funk lately commercially and is need of more inspiring material, and even with DiCaprio in the lead, I more or less expected this result due to the nature of the content and the rather lackluster marketing campaign. The film was sold as a traditional biopic of J. Edgar Hoover and that's exactly what it is - in other words, there are no surprises or revelations. It's a ho-hum movie and now it's made a ho-hum return.
Brett Beach: This is about what I expected (along with the fact that the majority of the opening weekend audience was over 50!). Although Hoover's life and story would have some good parallels for today's American culture, with Clint at the helm, there was no way this material was going to be made "sexy" (in any sense of the word) to pull in a large young audience. With the very cutting reviews from some quarters to keep away the older audience who didn't already go, this probably will end up in the $35-40 million range, or just end up shy of making back its budget domestically.