Monday, April 07, 2008

No more movies with George Clooney in the lead?

Granted, the question above is pretty ridiculous, but the rather sorry performance of Clooney's "Leatherheads" brought to mind an even sillier statement allegedly made (but of course denied!) last October by the president of production at Warner Bros.

You may remember that, after the twin tankings of Jodie Foster's "The Brave One" and Nicole Kidman's "The Invasion," Jeff Robinov was quoted, first by Nikki Finke, as saying "we are no longer doing movies with women in the lead." Though I can certainly understand what put him in such a foul mood, that statement was just as stupid then as it is now.

But a look at the box office numbers brings up a valid question. In it's opening weekend, Clooney's flick took in a rather paltry $13.5 million, and didn't even manage to win the weekend, finishing second to "21" with $15.1 million (and really just a hair above "Nim's Island.")

Now, let's flash back to "The Brave One" which, for the record, was easily one of the worst movies I saw in all of 2007. In its opening weekend, Jodie Foster's super-silly revenge flick took in $13,471,488, virtually identical to the take of "Leatherheads." It would go on to compile a $36,793,804 domestic box office total, which at this point would have to be considered a good outcome for Clooney's flick.

So, I offer you all that to ask you this: Will there be any similar hand-wringing over this latest failure? Will any studio executive be quoted as saying they won't "even look at a script with a Clooney lead"?

Of course not, but that's just the kind of double standard that's enough to set me off on a Monday morning with less than a full cup of coffee in my system. But why did Clooney's movie fare so poorly?

Well, in its favor, it had three fairly bankable stars in Clooney, Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski, and of course everyone in America loves football, right? Plus, despite the fact it had sat on the shelf for years before Clooney scooped it up, reliable Sports Illustrated scribe Rick Reilly contributed to the script (along with first-time screenwriter Duncan Brantley.)

So, what happened? You can chalk this one up as a "victory" for critics if you want to. From all the reviews I read, director Clooney and his writers played it too safe both in terms of humor and on-field action, and therefore didn't come up with enough to keep audiences entertained. Older moviegoers (of which, it's rather sad to report, I am apparently one) still listen to critics, and therefore just stayed home.

Or something like that anyway. Personally, I'm just looking forward to a good movie of any kind this year, no matter who's in the lead role. I'm tentatively putting my money on "Street Kings" this week, but not with terribly high hopes.

Casting W's cabinet

Now that Oliver Stone has cast the first family - plus his mommy and daddy - for "W," it's now time to fill out the cabinet and staff, where things could get much more interesting.

The roster so far: Josh Brolin is W, Elizabeth Banks is Laura Bush, Ellyn Burstyn gets the rather ignominious honor of playing Barbara Bush, and James Cromwell (hearty huzzah!) is W's daddy. The news today is that, since Stone clearly likes insanely beautiful women, Thandie Newton will play Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and Ioan Gruffudd will play W's brother in (making other people take up) arms, Tony Blair.

Which means there are still plenty of juicy roles to fill, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove. For Cheney you could certainly do worse than Jason Alexander, but I've got an even more solid TV choice to play Karl Rove.

Remember that "Halloween" episode of "The Office" in which Dwight was so proud of his Sith Lord costume? If there was a better dead ringer for Karl Rove, I haven't seen it, so I'm officially on the Rainn Wilson bandwagon.

And in slightly more serious "Office" news, the show does indeed return beginning this Thursday, so set your DVR. And, even better, NBC announced at its recent upfront that "The Office" will get 28 episodes next year, with the first four being hourlong specials, and then a spinoff to premiere after the Super Bowl. Bring it all on!

"Blindness" trailer

I'm fairly confident that we'll have some great movies before October this year, but if not Fernando Meirelles will be back to hopefully save the day.

"Blindness," Meirelles' follow-up to "The Constant Gardener" and the perfect "Cidade de Deus," is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by José Saramago and is about a city that is struck by a mysterious plague of, well, blindness. As you can see from what I believe is the first trailer below, it stars Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo (double huzzah!) and Gael Garcia Bernal (and, though she's not in the trailer, the lovely Alice Braga too.) Enjoy, and have a perfectly bearable Monday. Peace out.


J. Marquis said...

Poor Julianne. First she's living in the barren future of "Children of Men" and now a world where almost everybody's blind. Must be hard to keep a positive outlook about things...

renee said...

If I recall correctly, you're not a big Richard Roeper fan, but he and Michael Phillips were both raving about how funny Forgetting Sarah Marshall is, so I'm hopeful that we'll have good, quality films returning soon.

Reel Fanatic said...

You're right about that, Renee, but thanks for the heads up anyway ... I am fairly confident that Forgetting Sarah Marshall will indeed be a winner, because everything I've seen so far as footage has just made me laugh out loud

Bob said...

"Leatherheads" was a pretty good movie I thought, though certainly nowhere near what I was hoping for.
As for "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" I really hope that's good. The first few months of this year have been making me kind of pessimistic.

Mercurie said...

It definitely is a double standard. Somehow I don't think Leatherheads' performance at the box office is going to keep George Clooney from the lead in movies, even if there won't be any female leads at Warner Brothers...

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