Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
By BOP Staff
January 23, 2014
Kim Hollis: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the reboot of the franchise featuring characters created by Tom Clancy, earned just $15.5 million from Friday-to-Sunday despite a solid cast that includes Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley. What went wrong here?
Edwin Davies: I think it's a mixture of two distinct but related problems afflicting not just Shadow Recruit, but the Jack Ryan franchise as a whole. The first is that Jack Ryan as a character had his origins in the Cold War, and while the popularity of Tom Clancy's work peaked in the '80s and '90s, it started to slide the further and further we got from that era. The Sum of All Fears, the last Ryan adaptation, managed to do fairly well thanks to residual affection for Clancy's work, but it felt incredibly anachronistic in the age of the War on Terror, and the character's stock has only fallen in the nearly 12 years that the character has been away from the screen.
The second problem is that this new version didn't really do a compelling job of updating the character for the modern world, or of establishing him as a character that younger audiences should be interested in. International espionage films aren't as big of a draw these days - unless they feature Bourne, Bond or Hunt - and the ads for Shadow Recruit made it look incredibly generic (as did the title, which does the film no favors where Clancy fans are concerned because it shows that the film is not drawing from any of the - still fairly popular - books). I also think that, as good an actor as Pine is, he's not a hot commodity in the way that Alec Baldwin was in Hunt for Red October, and certainly not as much of a draw as Harrison Ford was when he played the character twice. Although Ford didn't originate the character, I think he's still viewed very much as the definitive Jack Ryan, and I don't think that the trailers suggested that Pine was bringing much new to the role.
So, to summarize: Young audiences don't really know who Jack Ryan is, and the marketing didn't do a good job of suggesting why they should take a chance and find out, and older audiences still think of Jack Ryan as Harrison Ford, and saw nothing to suggest that they needed to check in with the new guy.
Jason Barney: Part of the problem is that the franchise has been on the shelf for a while. I am a fan of all of the other Jack Ryan films, as well as a fan of the Clancy books. With Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and Sum of All Fears, we were in a limited way following some of the events that were depicted in some very popular Clancy novels. I am not sure how much of a book tie in there was with Shadow Recruit.
I think another part of the problem may have been reboot fatigue. Baldwin as Ryan was pretty good and Hunt for Red October is a beloved film for a lot of people. Harrison Ford is the only actor to play Ryan more than once, and while those films were good, they weren't smash hits. When Ben Affleck took over the role, the story was progressing (sorta) but fans were not getting the chance to watch Ryan portrayed by any one character. Now we have Chris Pine, who does have a bright film future, but not much residual interest in the franchise.
Shadow Recruit will have to hold well here and do strong business overseas. With a $60 million budget the film didn't cost too much, but it has a lot of work to do. This opening is nearly a third below some of the tracking estimates.
Felix Quinonez Jr.: I think the biggest problem here was the marketing. I felt like they almost went out of their way to make Jack Ryan look as generic as possible. I believe this is a genre that has a lot of commercial appeal and this should have been an easy sell. Also Chris Pine, while not really yet a box office draw, is a very likable actor. If the commercials had done a better job of making audiences care I strongly believe that this could have been a hit.