August 17, 2001
Previously known as Jesse James (and maybe would be more appropriately titled Rock and Roll Cowboys), this movie is set in the days of cowboys and the Wild West and centers on the notorious outlaw known as Jesse James. While the late gunman might be rolling in his grave right now, this contemporary and very much fictional retelling of his early days looks like Western-light, with a heavy sense of fun and what looks like a heavy dose of MTV.
Colin Farrell stars, and while he is not a big name star as we speak, he is pegged by many as a hot young up-and-coming superstar in Hollywood. Fortunately for him, he won’t be to blame when this movie bombs at the box office. It has already been pushed back many, many times and it seems that it will likely get pushed back again.
Comparisons to A Knight’s Tale can be made, but they are strenuous at best. A Knight’s Tale had a tremendous ad campaign behind it, and while a bit off-the-wall, it was just out there enough for people to make it worth their while to see it. Outlaws looks like a badly-made bad idea, and whether it sticks around for the last summer period or not will probably have little effect on its box office. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
July 31, 2001
Advertising has begun for this film and the studio is certainly going with a heavy rock 'n' roll fun angle. The early ads work well and perhaps the comparison to A Knight's Tale was not that much of a stretch. The ads are fast-paced and action-filled and reminescent of the ads for Shanghai Noon and the early Gladiator action ads. This is an excellent sign for the movie with the one concern being that it is just over two weeks away and the advertising has only just started. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
Box Office Autopsy
American Outlaws was the type of film that needed that one extra thing to turn it from disastrous flop into a hit for the teenage crowd. Unfortunately, it didn't get it. Despite a young up-and-coming cast and an electric ad campaign, WB couldn't get a significant launch from this film to make their money back.
American Outlaws opened on August 17, that dreaded time toward the end of the summer where audiences are only interested in hitting the beach one more time before schools get back into session. The release date killed American Outlaws; the film started with only $4.9 million from 2,348 venues opening weekend, and was abandoned by the studio in the weeks that followed. The film fell a hard-to-believe 58% in its sophomore frame, and never recovered. The domestic total came in at a brutal $13.3 million against a production cost of $38 million.
The film starred Colin Farrell as Jesse James, and employed modern music in the action, a tool that really offended critics. Also, reviewers said that director Les Mayfield's movie was historically inaccurate, which really upset western movie traditionalists. While these things upset critics, it shouldn't have stopped the target audience of teens and young adults from attending. Its my thinking that the genre put off any teen audience, it had been 11 years since Emilio Estevez has ripped things up in Young Guns II, and Shanghai Noon was aimed at a different, much wider market and was a much easier sell due to its comedic elements. Convincing a jaded audience to see a new genre in the middle of August with no real stars is a tough task, a task that no studio or marketing department could handle. The teen market is extremely fickle when it comes to movies, and they certainly voted against this one.
Morgan Creek Productions, the company that made a boatload of money off Young Guns and its sequel, was on the hook for this one. Morgan Creek had a disastrous 2001, releasing a string of costly flops. 2001 brought American Outlaws, 3000 Miles to Graceland, Angel Eyes and The Pledge. Of those the only one to come close to making any money was Angel Eyes, J-Lo's Ghost-like role; that film cost Morgan Creek $38 million, and still returned only $24 million from domestic box office. 2001 seriously affected future business at Morgan Creek, and American Outlaws was a big factor in that. (John Hamann/BOP)
Comparison films for American Outlaws
|Knight's Tale, A
|Quick and the Dead, The
|Squanto: A Warrior's Tale