September 12, 2008
On the Big Board
|Pretty predictable, but better than Street Kings and 88 Minutes.
It’s been over a decade since Robert De Niro and Al Pacino appeared on-screen together in Michael Mann’s Heat, the L.A.-set crime story about a career thief (De Niro) and the determined detective (Pacino) out to catch him. Fans of both actors consider it one of their recent bests. Will Righteous Kill, which this time finds both actors on the same side of the law, be as well-received?
De Niro and Pacino play hard-nosed New York City cops on the hunt for a serial killer. There are two catches: 1) the killer is murdering bad guys and 2) he or she may be a cop. The trailer suggests the plot could boil down to De Niro or Pacino being the killer, which may build suspense and intrigue, but will it be enough to draw people into theaters?
Although De Niro and Pacino are two of the most recognized names and faces in the industry, they’re not guaranteed ticket-sellers. Die-hard fans of both Hollywood A-listers will certainly want to see what Righteous Kill has to offer, but the studio distributing it, the newly formed Overture Films, may have picked the wrong release date to ensure mass appeal. The movie is scheduled to open in mid-September, which any industry aficionado could tell you is a poisonous time of year at the box office. Overture must be thinking adult moviegoers, who are tired of superheroes, stoners and animated robots, will be ready for a serious detective drama starring a pair of revered, veteran thespians.
Still, what’s unsettling about Righteous Kill is its generic trailer, which makes it look like just another big city detective story along the lines of The French Connection, L.A. Confidential, or Inside Man (it was actually written by the latter’s screenwriter). Granted, those films were successful and well-respected, but Righteous Kill doesn’t seem fresh or have a distinct style. The director is Jon Avnet, whose other Pacino headliner, 88 Minutes, flopped this past spring. Audiences may also be tired of seeing DeNiro and Pacino play the same archetypal detective over and over again. This is not a new role for either actor—De Niro played a cop in 15 Minutes Showtime, and City by the Sea, while Pacino sported the badge in Serpico, Heat and Insomnia. Other than De Niro and Pacino appearing on-screen together, audiences may find little reason to see it.
With a reported budget of $60 million, Righteous Kill will need positive reviews and strong legs to show a profit during the fall season. Its supporting cast, which includes Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, John Leguizamo and Carla Gugino, could help buoy sales since they’ll open up the demographic to African Americans and women, but it's clearly a De Niro-Pacino vehicle. Righetous Kill could get lucky and shoot up as much as $21 million during its opening weekend, while its legs will get determined by its reviews. (Matthew Huntley/BOP)
Vital statistics for Righteous Kill
Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, 50 Cent
Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Dan Futterman, Trilby Glover, Rob Dyrdek, Mark Famiglietti, Dennis O'Hare, Katie Chonacas, Brett Granstaff, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Alan Blumenfeld
|Click Here for Trailer
|Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture