Thursday, October 2, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Film: Why so many high-priced duds this year like ‘After Earth,’ ‘The Lone Ranger,’ ‘The Last Stand’ and ‘White House Down’?

By Rafer Guzman, Newsday

The return of Arnold Schwarzenegger! A teen romance from the creator of “Twilight”! Will and Jaden Smith in a massive sci-fi spectacle! As movie concepts go, these must have sounded like surefire ways to start printing money.

So . . . what happened?

The year is only half over, and already we’ve seen a string of major duds. “Gangster Squad,” a costume drama starring Sean Penn and Emma Stone, had an almost Oscar-like glow but wound up freezing in January. Jennifer Lopez and Jason Statham courted the action/romance crowd with “Parker,” but shot themselves in the foot. And while we were still marveling at the implosion of “After Earth,” along came the belly flop of “The Lone Ranger.”

Who or what is to blame for these major letdowns? We asked a handful of movie-industry observers to help us do a postmortem on 10 of this year’s most high-profile duds. The recurring problems were unoriginal stories and underwhelming stars, but the larger issue seems to be a combination of increasingly inflated production budgets and a mercilessly crowded marketplace.

“Movies are having a hard time holding,” says Todd Cunningham, news editor at TheWrap.com. “There’s just blockbuster after blockbuster. If you don’t connect with your audience on your first go-round, you’re not going to.”

RECENT BOX OFFICE BOMBS:

• “The Last Stand”

(Jan. 18)

THE PITCH: Schwarzenegger tackles his first starring role in a decade as a small-town sheriff battling an international drug lord.

WHAT HAPPENED: Despite a sizable fan base for “The Expendables” movies, audiences barely noticed this dead-of-winter release.

WHO’S HURTING: All vintage action stars, says Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “What they’re finding out is that they can’t transition from doing a franchise movie and then doing an original movie.”

BOTTOM LINE: $37.1 million (all are recent worldwide figures according to reporting service BoxOfficeMojo.com)

• “Parker”

(Jan. 25)

THE PITCH: Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez team up as a thief and a real-estate agent in this action romcom. Based on a novel by veteran crime writer Donald E. Westlake.

WHAT HAPPENED: Statham’s violent antihero and Lopez’s bubbly office girl made for a weirdly noxious mix.

WHO’S HURTING: Statham. “He’s always stuck in this range of between $10-$15-million openings,” says Contrino, “and ‘Parker’ did less than that.”

BOTTOM LINE: $17.6 million

“Beautiful Creatures”

(Feb. 14)

THE PITCH: In a small Southern town, an average teenage boy falls for the witchy new girl in school. Based on a young-adult novel and starring newcomer Alice Englert.

WHAT HAPPENED: This adaptation didn’t come with the built-in fan base of “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games,” says Andrew Stewart, box-office reporter at Variety. “There wasn’t the same kind of heat behind the source material.”

WHO’S HURTING: Other young-adult franchises with less-than-rabid followings. (That’s you, “Percy Jackson.”)

BOTTOM LINE: $60 million

• “Jack the Giant Slayer”

(March 1)

THE PITCH: The old fairy tale gets the “Lord of the Rings” treatment with an action-fantasy vibe and elaborate CGI.

WHAT HAPPENED: It wasn’t an ultraviolent twist (like “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”) or a pure kids movie, and “Jack” never found its audience. An A-list lead actor — rather than the little-known Nicholas Hoult — might have helped.

WHO’S HURTING: Budgeted at $195 million, “Jack” has made some money. But it’s a slight ding for director Bryan Singer, who’s accustomed to an “X-Men” level of success.

BOTTOM LINE: $197 million

• “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone”

(March 15)

THE PITCH: Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi don campy costumes and kooky wigs as old-school Las Vegas magicians, while Jim Carrey plays their crazed nemesis.

WHAT HAPPENED: “Competition, crummy marketing, bad reviews — you could check a couple of boxes,” says Cunningham. “And none of this addresses the idea that it was a really bad movie.”

WHO’S HURTING: Carrey, especially given the pre-release damage he’s done to his upcoming film “Kick-Ass 2” by publicly disavowing it.

BOTTOM LINE: $22.5 million

• “The Host”

(March 29)

THE PITCH: While battling an alien invasion, one human girl (Saoirse Ronan) must choose between two suitors (Max Irons and Jake Abel). Based on a novel by “Twilight” sensation Stephenie Meyer.

WHAT HAPPENED: A serious case of supernatural-teen-love-triangle fatigue.

WHO’S HURTING: “Stephenie Meyer is not Stephen King,” says Contrino. “People aren’t going to line up for anything she does just based on her name.”

BOTTOM LINE: $48 million

• “After Earth”

(May 31)

THE PITCH: Box-office megastar Will Smith plays father to real son Jaden (2010’s “The Karate Kid”) in a sci-fi adventure set on an abandoned Earth.

WHAT HAPPENED: Produced by Will Smith and based on his story idea, “After Earth” ended up looking like a vanity project for Jaden, who proved unable to carry a $130 million movie. Whiffs of Scientology – Will has been a donor and the movie features a possibly Hubbardian volcano – didn’t help.

WHO’S HURTING: Director M. Night Shyamalan (“The Last Airbender”), whose name is becoming synonymous with “bomb.”

BOTTOM LINE: $199 million, but only $59 million in the United States

• “The Internship”

(June 7)

THE PITCH: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play unemployed salesmen who finagle a tryout at the hip, young, high-tech company Google.

WHAT HAPPENED: Not a total disaster, but a poor showing from two major comedy stars. One theory: This PG-13 comedy wasn’t raunchy enough for older fans, while its aging leads didn’t pull in younger viewers.

WHO’S HURTING: Vaughn. He’s had several successes (“Four Christmases,” ‘’The Break-Up”), but could use another home-run hit like “Wedding Crashers.”

BOTTOM LINE: $63 million

• “White House Down”

(June 28)

PLOT: A Secret Service reject (Channing Tatum) must protect the president (Jamie Foxx) from armed attackers. Surely audiences won’t remember the virtually identical “Olympus Has Fallen,” released three months earlier?

WHAT HAPPENED: “I don’t think they envisioned ‘Olympus’ doing as well as it did,” says Cunningham. That movie took in a healthy $160.9 million worldwide, leaving little for this repeat.

WHO’S HURTING: Someone at Sony/Columbia has some explaining to do.

BOTTOM LINE: $69 million

• “The Lone Ranger”

(July 3)

PLOT: An amped-up version of the old series, with Armie Hammer in the title role and Johnny Depp wearing weird makeup as Tonto. Directed by Gore Verbinski (“Pirates of the Caribbean”).

WHAT HAPPENED: Near-universal opprobrium – a kind of hatred, actually – from critics.

WHO’S HURTING: “Things are very iffy,” says Stewart. Westerns rarely appeal to either Americans or foreign audiences, but Depp’s megastardom could still sell it overseas. “Domestically, it’s going to flop.”

Scripps Howard News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • thebetterworkplaceAugust 17, 2013 - 1:03 am

    Presenter Mike Dilger - who spent many of his school holidays at his grandmother’s in Gregg House Road, Shiregreen, Sheffield - will present the show from his favourite city.Presenter Mike Dilger - who spent many of his school holidays at his grandmother’s in Gregg House Road, Shiregreen, Sheffield - will present the show from his favourite city.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Head-on crash sends 2 to trauma centers

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
 
Vacaville man earns Carnegie heroism medal

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Mundy fifth-graders share their thoughts

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

Veterans meet set in November

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Solano Tea Party Patriots meet next week

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Bevy of vintage warbirds expected at Nut Tree air show

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
 
Weather for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

FBI turns animal cruelty into top-tier felony

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
California Catholics challenge abortion order

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

San Francisco expands free public Wi-Fi access

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Judge: Stockton must treat pension like other debt

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Man convicted of murder in killing over loud music

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

 
3 Afghan soldiers who fled say they can’t go home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Poll: Divided voters still focus on economy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Respiratory virus seen in 4 deaths; role unclear

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

920 California chickens killed with golf club

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Liberia short on ambulances for Ebola patients

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Wife of slain Los Angeles-area mayor released

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Ebola patient told hospital he was from Liberia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Caltrans: Bay Bridge tower rods exposed to water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Secret Service chief quits due to security lapses

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

2 children in Los Angeles County have enterovirus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Palestinians: Israeli occupation must end in 2016

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Infant’s body found in California trash facility

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Mexico’s probe of army slayings raises doubts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

John Wayne’s heirs lose ‘Duke’ legal brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Hong Kong protesters threaten to occupy buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

App teaches kindergartners basic computer coding

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
2 white Ohio women sue over sperm from black donor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

 
Editorial Cartoon: Oct. 2, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Crazy? Violent? Lose your guns

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

 
It’s time to teach history

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

Read this column ASAP or immediately

By Reg Henry | From Page: A11

 
Real reasons neighborhoods are in trouble

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 2, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 2, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 2, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Our son’s suicide has made us feel like outcasts in our community

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Steinem: Domestic violence discussion a positive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘Orange is the New Black’ author talks Season 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Joy Behar to debut a 1-woman show in New York

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Tony Bennett sets mark as oldest act with No. 1 LP

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Lena Dunham launches tour for book of adult essays

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘Interstellar’ to be released 2 days early on film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

Bumgarner, Giants silence Pirates 8-0 to advance

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
A’s part ways a day after 12-inning loss to Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

49ers prepare for familiar face in Chiefs Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders leave for bye after meeting with new coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

College notebook: Former Falcon Williams tearing it up as Torero

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Prep cross country: Armijo rolls to sweep at MEL center meet

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Drivers fear next round of NASCAR’s Chase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
JC volleyball: Solano wins twice in Falcons Classic

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

JC women’s soccer: Sjoberg nets 2 goals as Solano ties Chabot

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Prep water polo: Rodriguez boys swim to 11-1 win over Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Prep girls tennis: Stybnarova earns victory at No. 1 singles

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Tigers hope starters can outdo Orioles bullpen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Wambach, players file lawsuit over World Cup turf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Oslo latest city to drop out of 2022 Olympic race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Cardinals re-sign Fairfield High graduate Bishop

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B3

 
LeBron warmly welcomed ‘home’ by Cleveland fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Trout makes playoff debut when Angels host Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

This date in sports history for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

Stocks start October with a drop

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
GM looks to new vehicles, China to boost profit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

5 reasons bonds may be less safe than you think

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Why the bond market is more fragile than you think

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

John ‘Bo’ M. Miller

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Laura M. Gerdes-Lemmons

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9