Monday Morning Quarterback Part One
By BOP Staff
March 26, 2006
Michael Jordan is the one calling Spike Lee 'Money' these daysKim Hollis: Inside Man dominated the box office this weekend with a $29.0 million opening. This total represents the largest for either its star, Denzel Washington, or its director, Spike Lee. Why do you think the film had such a strong performance?
David Mumpower: As I said in the wrap, it's all about star power. Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster are both reliable openers on their own. Adding in Clive Owen with a tag of "directed by Spike Lee" establishes the pedigree of this production effectively.
Tim Briody: I'll go with the fact that it had actors people were familiar with (and pretty established as box office draws at this point) in a movie that actually looked pretty good.
Kim Hollis: Exactly, Tim. Smart-looking, tense movies have been a rarity this year, particularly those for thinking adults. Inside Man definitely filled a need.
Joel Corcoran: I think the strong performance was a combination of star power, compelling storyline, and interesting character twists.
Tim Briody: One or the other just doesn't seem to do it anymore.
Joel Corcoran: From the television ads, Jodie Foster's character came across a sort of a morally ambiguous government agent, which seemed intriguing. I don't think I've seen her in a role like that before.
Hollywood makes a good movie and people attend it. This is called positive reinforcement.Reagen Sulewski: I think they did a very good job a pushing the "what's the mystery?" angle. It was a little heavy-handed for my tastes, but that plays really well for thrillers these days, especially with some well-respected actors in the lead roles.
Joel Corcoran: But I think the marketing had to be heavy-handed, Reagen, if only to push Inside Man above the dreck we've seen at the box office lately.
David Mumpower: I was not crazy about the Peter Jackson-esque ending but I thought the getting there part of Inside Man was exceptional. The commercials promised powerhouse entertainment, and I do feel I get that sort of bang for my movie buck.
Kim Hollis: Those are some pretty spectacular reviews at RottenTomatoes by current-day standards, so I suspect it will have some staying power, too.
Cyndi Lauper alert!Kim Hollis: Spike Lee has made a career out of making socially relevant movies. Why do you think he suddenly chose a shamelessly commercial $45 million big budget project such as this?
Tim Briody: He was getting a little behind on the mortgage?
David Mumpower: I always think back to Hitchcock whenever I see decisions like this. He took on the To Catch a Thief project mainly because he was tired of doing such serious fare and was ready for something fun. I can totally see where Spike Lee might reach a point in his life where he's ready to do something different for a change. This is a style of movie he has never tried before, but it does include hallmarks of his editing style in Malcolm X. Plus, he has that comfort zone with Denzel Washington from all of their previous work together.
Reagen Sulewski: I think this is pretty analogous to when a character actor takes a role in a big budget action movie (Philip Seymour Hoffman, I am looking in your direction). Now he's more likely to get a $30 million budget for whatever non-commercial project he has coming up next.
Kim Hollis: With his last couple of small projects failing to some degree (who here remembers She Hate Me?), I think it was time to show that he still has it. Inside Man gave Lee the opportunity to show he's still money. Now he can go back to doing some small, socially relevant stuff without sweating his future.
Tim Briody: I also think it helps that Denzel Washington has been on a hot streak for a good long while now.
Joel Corcoran: I think David's right. All of Spike Lee's movies are very good, but they also seem very involved. I can imagine that such a production would be exhausting, so maybe he just wanted to have a little fun for a change.
David Mumpower: Girls and Spike Lee wanna have fun.
Stay Alive leveled up over the weekend.Kim Hollis: Stay Alive, the latest of 27 anticipated 2006 horror releases, opened to $11.2 million this weekend. What do you think of this performance?
Reagen Sulewski: Maybe a little above what I was expecting. But it certainly shows how bad a horror film can look these days and still make money.
Kim Hollis: I think PG-13 horror is more or less easy money at this point. Do a cheap little horror flick with even a passing scary premise, and you're going to get kids in theaters. It doesn't take much for them to make a profit.
Tim Briody: I actually liked the concept, though it really should have been an MMO in the vein of World of Warcraft rather than a horror game.
David Mumpower: I think it did a nice job of tapping into that World of Warcraft/Everquest culture in our society, though. A lot of these diehard players (not so) secretly fantasize about the game coming to life. Sure, it's not a unique premise by any stretch, but it works well enough in a horror setting. Buena Vista is going to make money on this project and at the end of the day, that's all that matters.
Joel Corcoran: As a member of the World of Warcraft culture, David, I agree ... sort of. I think it would be a lot of fun for the game to come to life, as long as I didn't have to deal with the vast majority of the other players.
Tim Briody: If you really were part of the WoW culture...what are you doing here?
Joel Corcoran: I'm taking a break before my guild meeting in an hour.
Is the bloom off the rose?Joel Corcoran: This is a weak opening weekend compared to When a Stranger Calls ($21.6 million) or Final Destination 3 ($19.2 million), but it's still going to make money.
Tim Briody: There has been a gradual decrease in many of these openings, showing that even the target audience is starting to say "enough already!"
Reagen Sulewski: Tim, either that, or that Frankie Muniz should hope be praying the governor calls and Malcolm in the Middle gets renewed until it's covering the birth of his character's kids' adolescence.
Kim Hollis: I actually kind of liked the premise (and the fact that Jess from Gilmore Girls is in it). But all of that was balanced out by Frankie Muniz, who I think is a real-life, walking Beavis or Butthead.
White Trash 1, Civilization 0Kim Hollis: Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector earned $7.1 million in its opening weekend. If you could put together a focus group of people who attended this movie, what would you ask them?
Joel Corcoran: "What the hell were you thinking?"
Tim Briody: "How is the NASCAR season going?"
Reagen Sulewski: "How drunk are you right now?"
David Mumpower: "My southern brethren, this idiot is from Nebraska. He's a poseur pretending to be white trash while secretly laughing at you all the way to the bank. Beat him up and steal his wallet instead of going to see his movie."
Reagen Sulewski: "Why do you hate America?"
Tim Briody: $7 million is an upset of George Mason proportions. I really thought that even with his popularity from stand-up, the movie wouldn't even register on the radar.
Joel Corcoran: As a native Nebraskan and NASCAR fan, I resent you all right now.
David Mumpower: I had expected it to do closer to $12 million, so I consider this performance rather encouraging for the cause of common sense.
Kim Hollis: I'm in complete agreement, Tim. A month and a half ago, this movie was dropped by a distributor and looked like its best shot was going straight-to-video. I never expected it to make even more than $500,000.
In praise of comedians who help the redneck identification process.David Mumpower: I honestly don't get that. Those Blue Collar Comedy Tour DVDs and TV specials are huge. He has a cult following. Sure, it's a group of people who consider plaid and denim to be Paris runway fashion, but still.
Reagen Sulewski: It's got to have one of the stupidest titles in the history of film. Yes, you're saddled with the fact that your lead actor's name (and sole reason for this film existing) includes a profession, but you don't put another profession as a hyphen.
Joel Corcoran: I should say that I really enjoyed the Blue Collar Comedy Tour films, and even laughed at Larry the Cable Guy's routine, but an entire movie? I'm with Tim and Kim - I'm surprised this film even got made. The fact that it earned more than a million on opening weekend seems perplexing.
Kim Hollis: But Larry the Cable Guy is the suck of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour (at least from what I understand).
Reagen Sulewski: And yet the most popular, tourwise. It's somehow not surprising, or that just may be my massive cynicism kicking in.
David Mumpower: Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel and his wife, Brandine, are considerably less discriminating that you might presume, Kim.
Joel Corcoran: He is the suck of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, but he still has his moments.
David Mumpower: Joel's willingness to acknowledge gaining pleasure from Blue Collar Comedy Tour routines is quite possibly the most naive confession we've ever had on Monday Morning Quarterback. He will never ever never live this down.
Joel Corcoran: I have nothing to hide, David.
Kim Hollis: Oh, I know people like Mr. the Cable Guy. I work with many of them.
David Mumpower: Do they all have Minnie Pearl hats complete with sales tag?
Kim Hollis: Hey, now. I grew up on a steady diet of Hee Haw myself. Buck Owens, RIP.
Tim Briody: I heard not one, but two radio shows getting a lot of mileage out of Larry the Cable Guy this week. Perhaps its abysmalness, unnecessariness and train wreck..iness actually added a few bucks to its total.
Reagen Sulewski: It's one thing to watch it for free when there are three channels to choose from. Paying hard-earned money for it is another thing altogether.