Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
February 13, 2012
Reagen Sulewski: I think we're going to see Denzel take a bunch of, if not outright villain roles, at least morally gray ones, taking into account this, Book of Eli and American Gangster. That 50 to 100% bump in opening weekends is hard to ignore. The Liam Neeson comparison is kind of interesting in that Denzel is just a couple years younger, although Washington has been a bigger star for longer. I'm sure some sociologist could find something interesting in the fact that we're giving these guys their best success in their later careers. Then again, maybe it's not that unusual - Jimmy Stewart was still making films like Flight of the Phoenix at this age. It's possible that the youth movement of the '80s and '90s was the aberration.
Max Braden: Every time I saw an ad for this it looked like it could have been called Bourne: Origins, and the trailer reinforced that idea by pointing out that it was the best action movie since Bourne. That was on the mark too, since there are so many scenes in Safe House that echo The Bourne Identity, you'd think it was written by the same guy. I think that demonstrates that CIA-hunts-rogue-agent-who-may-or-may-not-be-bad is a reliable formula that, if done competently, audiences will eat up every time.
Tim Briody: I agree that there's still apparently some untapped potential in his playing "against type," though he was given an Oscar for Training Day...ten years ago. He's just someone who's not only a fantastic actor but has picked all the right projects. We love Ryan Reynolds, but I don't think he contributed much to the opening.
David Mumpower: When we did the Friday numbers analysis, one of the points we made was how much more appealing Denzel Washington is as an antihero/villain. You have all stated fine points to reinforce this premise and I agree with almost everything said here. The one aspect that has not been mentioned that I believe is similar to Liam Neeson's recent surge is another commonality. Both of them have made very good movies lately. We talk about the manner in which positive reinforcement buys a better opening weekend for a sequel. I believe that in many instances that the same is true of actors. Edwin mentioned how shockingly good Unstoppable is. In the 2000s, almost all of Denzel's releases have been well received. Out of Time is the only one of them that didn't have solid legs. His recent pair of releases, The Book of Eli and Unstoppable, are huge hits on home video. Like Neeson with Taken and Unknown, he has built up a level of trust among consumers. This pairing with Ryan Reynolds is perfect in that he is able to match up against a younger, virile would-be action hero and the results, while better than anticipated, are still relatively predictable. This is a perfect project for Denzel Washington and it's going to be at worst his second most popular movie because of the cleverness of it. This is a job well done by everyone involved and they should take a bow.