Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
May 22, 2012
Expect wild mediocrity!
Kim Hollis: What to Expect When You're Expecting was expected to be the ladies' choice this weekend, but it laid an egg. The movie opened to a wildly disappointing $10.5 million. Why do you think it performed so poorly for Lionsgate?
Matthew Huntley: A few factors contributed to this dismal opening: a) intense competition from still-strong summer juggernauts (i.e. The Avengers); b) wretched reviews, which the movie's target audience of mature women are more likely to read and be influenced by; c) a less-than-dependable cast. Only two years ago J-Lo made a terrible movie called The Back-up Plan, also about pregnancy, so why should audiences trust her now? Plus, the movie just looked stupid and unfunny. Seriously, how many times must audiences endure the old "angry woman in labor" routine?
Edwin Davies: I think that people might be getting a bit wary of these giant ensemble comedies which have become in vogue since He's Just Not That Into You proved the viability of the form in 2009, and Valentine's Day blew up in 2010. However, neither of those films were particularly good, and it was clear by the time that New Year's Eve rolled around that people were being more cautious. (Think Like A Man technically falls within this sub-genre, but that had other things going for it other than being an ensemble comedy.) With hardly any real names in the cast, bad reviews and a confused marketing campaign, it was always going to be difficult for people to connect to What To Expect When You're Expecting.
Jim Van Nest: Ya know, we finally saw The Avengers and it was my wife's turn to choose the movie. And oddly enough, she had a tough time deciding between that and Battleship (she chose...wisely). What to Expect is a good example of a counter programming flick. I just think that The Avengers appeals to everyone and even the fun, explosion-filled Battleship seemed more appealing to her than What to Expect. I guess I'm saying if your big hope is that your movie is counter programming, you'd better damn well make sure that your target audience needs such a vehicle. Apparently this weekend, they didn't.
David Mumpower: I think Edwin's point is well taken just as Jim's anecdote tells the whole story here. Ensemble casts are fun for the actors in that they share the onus of opening a movie. If it doesn't do well, none of them bears the brunt of the criticism (quick, name the actor who blew it for everybody in New Year's Eve...you can't). Conversely, if the film is a hit, everybody proudly highlights it in their filmography. There is also the opportunity for a sequel, as is the case with Grown Ups and was effectively true of Valentine's Day. The problem with the concept is that few writers/directors have honed that Altman-esque ability to juggle multiple story arcs in a moving fashion. Even Altman himself struggled with the process. As great as The Player, Gosford Park and (my favorite) Cookie's Fortune were, Dr T and the Women and Prêt-à-Porter were just as big a mess. What To Expect When You're Expecting fell into the latter category as the reviews for it are of the torches and pitchforks variety. When we debated this trailer, to a single person, we despised it. Our collective thought process was that maybe the target audience, mothers, may have a differing opinion. To my pleasant surprise, they felt exactly the same way. For a weekend with three box office non-starters, I cannot describe the one with the smallest production budget of $40 million as the biggest bomb. It is clearly the least popular, though. When you are looking up at Battleship and The Dictator, you have gone wrong. To a larger point, I am dispirited to see that Kirk Jones, the director of the marvelous Waking Ned Devine, has been reduced to Everybody's Fine and this movie. He is demonstrably better than this.