By David Mumpower
March 15, 2013
A rematch of the stars of one of the most popular comedies of all time headlines this weekend’s movie releases. Alas, Bruce vs. Evan would be a less mighty box office battle than was the case 10 years ago. And with the only new release this weekend starring Halle Berry in a WWE-produced film, the ultimate winner is a foregone conclusion. Oz will remain Great and Powerful for at least another seven days.
In 2003, Jim Carrey picked on a virtual unknown at the time, Steve Carell, whose only crime was being a co-worker in the same newsroom as Carrey’s character. The movie was a global sensation named Bruce Almighty. North American audiences laughed to the tune of $242.8 million while its final global box office was $484.6 million. Bruce Almighty became the fifth most popular movie of the year with a total that more than doubled (!) the sixth place finisher. In terms of global take, it was also the 34th most popular movie of all time up until that point.
In the interim, Carell has become one of the most beloved entertainers of our generation. He has starred in every conceivable type of triumphant project. There have been critical darlings such as Little Miss Sunshine and Dan in Real Life, box office hits such as Get Smart and Date Night and hidden gems such as my favorite movie of 2012, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Steve Carell is much beloved.
Alas, the years have been less kind to Ace Ventura, who has not opened a live action movie to $30+ million since 2004. His biggest hit during this time frame was as a voice actor in Horton Hears a Who, a movie that reunited him with Carell, at least in the recording booth. It has earned almost $300 million worldwide, more than triple its financial outlay to produce. In two prior movies together, Carell and Carrey’s films have grossed $780 million against expenses of roughly $180 million. Carell must be Carrey’s good luck charm.
Other than this Dr. Seuss adaptation, Carrey has struggled mightily in his continued attempt to be respected as an actor. There have been financial disappointments such as The Number 23 and Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events as well as a couple of failed attempts to receive Academy Awards attention. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the most recognizable of these – and make no mistake that the man was robbed – but there was I Love You, Philip Morris as well.
The most profitable movies Carrey have been the fluffy shenanigans-infused productions that he seems to resent. Fun with Dick and Jane and Yes Man both wound up around $100 million, the line of demarcation for a blockbuster comedy. Recently, he has been reduced to playing sidekick to a bunch of penguins, which is a cry for help from the world’s foremost Pet Detective. Mr. Popper’s Penguins somehow managed to earn $68.2 million, which is astonishing given the atrocious quality of the film.