Monday Morning Quarterback Part 2

By BOP Staff

May 23, 2006

My arms are huge!

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In praise of Otm Shank

Kim Hollis: With the performance of The Da Vinci Code, is Tom Hanks the safest best in Hollywood at the moment?

David Mumpower: After The Terminal and The Ladykillers, he definitely needed this. Even so, if I have to pick someone I know will add the perfect combination of quality and box office, I pick Tom Hanks. Johnny Depp is the only other guy I even put in the conversation at the moment. Jamie Foxx is in that next tier of potential risers, though.

Reagen Sulewski: I'd say Clooney is still riding higher at the moment. Code would have succeeded with or without Hanks. Perhaps not to this exact level, but this was an easy sell.

David Mumpower: I can't credit Clooney to that degree. If you look at his last three non-Danny Ocean projects, it's not pretty. Out of Intolerable Cruelty, Good Night, and Good Luck and Syriana, the highest earner is Syriana at $50.8 million domestically. The three films average $39.1 million. I do, however, feel George Clooney would have been night and day better in the part of Robert Langdon.

Reagen Sulewski: Only Intolerable Cruelty of those was theoretically an easy sell. It says something to me that he can lift marginal films like that even to that level.

David Mumpower: I would argue the same of Hanks with The Ladykillers, though. That title was an impossible sell yet it outperformed Clooney's Coen Brothers film of the same time frame by almost $5 million. And the main reason why was because he must have waffles forthwith.

Joel Corcoran: If you look at "safest bet" in terms of "return on investment," I'd definitely put Clooney near the top of the list, along with Hanks, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and maybe even Reese Witherspoon. With these actors, I think producers are almost guaranteed to get a box office return proportional to the actors' salaries.

Tim Briody: Hanks' highest non-animated, non-Forrest Gump earning film is Cast Away at $233.6 million. I'm going out on a limb and saying that Da Vinci Code doesn't beat that.

Reagen Sulewski: Yeah, I'd say about $215 million is where it ends up.

Ian McKellen makes it good!

Tim Briody: And as Reagen said, just about anyone could've been in that role and I doubt it would have mattered much. Ian McKellen's agent does deserve some type of award, though. He's already Gandalf and Magneto. This is just gravy to him.

David Mumpower: McKellen's track record since 2001 is just ridiculous. If this film and X-Men: The Last Stand earn $200 million, he's had one a year since then.

Joel Corcoran: Ian McKellen is just about the smartest actor in Hollywood these days.

It's the age-old question of money vs. quality. Or as BOP calls it, the Anti-Uwe Boll Question

Kim Hollis: Ron Howard is clearly bothered by the negative reviews of The Da Vinci Code. Considering the worldwide performance, does this even matter?

Tim Briody: Right now, no. Next week, it's entirely possible if the film does not hold well.

Kim Hollis: I think they do to some degree, though not in the financial sense. Howard has recently established himself as a guy who can both bring in audience and deliver quality product. The fact that he now has a major "miss" on his record (and who remembers The Missing, really?) has to sting a bit.

Joel Corcoran: Yes, I think so, particularly with the statistics both you and Reagen mentioned above, Kim. If most people who adored the book saw the movie very shortly after it opened, and if those people see the movie only once, then your remaining audience is Tim and the two other people who never read the book. And they're not likely to see it with such overwhelmingly bad reviews.

David Mumpower: Critics were completely divided about How the Grinch Stole Christmas. They were nearly universal in their praise of Cinderella Man. One is remembered as a box office heavyweight while the other became the focus of apologists throughout the summer of 2005. I wish Ron Howard had made a better movie, but his main responsibility is to offer a fantastic return on investment for his studio's productions. He aced that part of the test.

Joel Corcoran: I disagree, David. A director's job is to make good movies. It's the producers' jobs to get the return on investment.

Kim Hollis: And yet he's inextricably tied to Brian Grazer, so I think Howard is a different circumstance.

Reagen Sulewski: I'm inclined to say no. He's made people a boatload of money so he gets a pass. His next film had better be good, though.


Well, we don't expect cilice sales to soar

Kim Hollis: Is the controversy surrounding The Da Vinci Code another example of "no publicity is bad publicity" or did Opus Dei and the Catholic Church negatively impact the box office of the film in some way?

Reagen Sulewski: I can't think of a single time this has worked to scare people away from a movie.

David Mumpower: We would have to go all the way back to The Last Temptation of Christ to find a good example.

Tim Briody: I don't think it affected the movie one way or the other. It probably had an impact regarding the book when it was perched at the top of the best seller list for months a couple of years back.

David Mumpower: I think most consumers are smart enough to recognize the criticisms are silly anyway. This is a book of fiction and the movie is an adaptation of that. Anyone particularly threatened by the source material is innately paranoid.

Joel Corcoran: I think the last time Catholics paid any attention to what the Vatican said about a movie was The Life of Brian was released. Even the warnings against The Last Temptation of Christ weren't followed, except for the especially devout. I went to see Last Temptation of Christ, but my college roommate at the time didn't ... though, then again, he grew up as an altar boy.

Consider BOP temporarily mollified.

Kim Hollis: Do you feel better about the state of the box office now than you did last weekend?

David Mumpower: Only marginally. We all came to a consensus last week that as soon as The Da Vinci Code and X-Men: The Last Stand tore it up, Poseidon and Mission: Impossible III's struggles would be placed on the back-burner.

Reagen Sulewski: The doom and glooming so far was a little overblown for me anyway. Mission: Impossible was only down a little from its previous two outings, and Poseidon looked more old-and-busted the closer we got to release.

Kim Hollis: I still think the industry will be in good shape for summer, particularly when compared to the down numbers that highlighted our discussions week after week.

Joel Corcoran: I'm feeling slightly better about the box office, but I'm reserving judgment until mid-June at least. I think movies like Cars, Click, and Superman Returns will be the real benchmarks for how the movie industry will fare this summer.

David Mumpower: Agreed. The only concern I have is that there is significant segregation between the top tier project and the stragglers. The bottom of the top ten right now is ugly and nothing changes next week with only one new product in the marketplace.



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