August 3, 2001
Original Sin, starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas, is a remake of a romantic drama from the great French director Francois Truffaut. The original, made in 1969, was called La Sirène du Mississippi (AKA Mississippi Mermaid), starred Catherine Deneuve and Jean Paul Belmondo. The film was restored in 1999, and Amy Taubin of The Village Voice called it "one of the director's weakest films." At least the filmmakers of Original Sin won't be butchering a classic.
Original Sin has had a troubled past. Once called Dancing in the Dark and set to be released in November 2000, Original Sin looks to be another Sweet November. After being bumped from Holidays 2000, it then got pushed back to February, and has now landed in August, possibly hoping to cash in on Ms. Jolie's box-office draw from Tomb Raider.
What's Original Sin about? Good question. Plot descriptions are vague, but the original, and what seems to be the case here, is that Jolie is a mail-order bride for the wealthy Banderas. She then steals his cash, and Banderas has to find her. I think this movie is mostly about sex, and that's all we really need to know. Original Sin is directed by Michael Cristofer, who has a strange resumé. He started out as a child actor on Bonanza; as an adult, he wrote the screenplay for the horrible The Bonfire of the Vanities, and finally won an Emmy for his other collaboration with Angelina, Gia. On a weird trivia note, James Haven, Angelina Jolie's brother, also has a role.
Box office could be similar to the Keanu Reeve/Charlize Theron starrer, Sweet November. It opened to $11.2 million in February of 2001, and had no legs. I'd expect a similar reaction here, although word-of-mouth already seems bad. On the other hand, The 13th Warrior, another Antonio Banderas film with horrible word-of-mouth, opened to over $10 million in August of 1999.
Sex does sell, and that is the only thing this film has going for it. (John Hamann/BOP)
Box Office Autopsy
When a studio makes the decision to delay a finished film for several months, it almost seems like they should just skip the pretense and throw it straight to video. Putting a film on the shelf for six months or more may not quite be the kiss of Death, but He is buying you dinner. However, for a film like Original Sin, which stars recent Oscar winner and Tomb Raider Angelina Jolie, a studio will still hold out hope for some kind of recoup of costs. Especially when that studio is MGM, for which there seems to be no bomb too big to produce these days. The presence of Antonio Banderas seems to be a neutral factor here, although he does seem to have a special gift for cursing projects not directed by Robert Rodriguez. In what can only be described as a getaway attempt, MGM unloaded this period melodrama at just 2,194 venues, on which it grossed only $6.4 million on opening weekend. A dismal total of just $16.4 million followed; this was no overlooked gem. Further confirming its status as a "Blockbuster Special"-quality movie is the fact that it nearly doubled its theatrical take in rentals, grabbing $28 million there. It appears the real original sin around this movie belongs to the executive that gave this a green light. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)
Comparison films for Original Sin
|Waiting to Exhale *
|Autumn in New York
|13th Warrior, The
|Single White Female
|Sea of Love
|Body of Evidence *