Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #590: How To Be #1

Welcome to the show folks...

George Clooney's film
The American was #1 at the box office this weekend in a tight race with the Mexploitation action-film Machete, and the heist pic Takers. This despite a Cinemascore, the people who ask actual moviegoers what they thought of the movie they just saw, giving it a D for dreary, dismal and dull. This is a rare victory for Clooney, whose last film the critically acclaimed Up In The Air was his best performer at the box office since Ocean's 13, but still only made $83 million.

That's not really enough to justify his status as an "A-List" movie star, especially when coupled with the prime turkeys like
The Men Who Stare At Goats, The Good German, and a bunch of other flicks that came and went without causing much of a stir with the audience, though not as much as it used to.

So how did he get the #1 movie this past weekend. Well, here's how:

1. Clooney gets a lot of hype. He is what I call a "Media Appealer," which means that his career is based on winning over the people in the media, over the audience. His target audience are Academy Award voters, critics, and the vast celebrity publicity machine.

That means that everything he does gets all sorts of hype and media coverage whether the film actually deserves it or not. That's bound to inspire a few people to buy tickets.

2. The studio released it on a very slow weekend. This Labor Day weekend was one of the slowest in movie history and was made up of mostly films either running out of steam like The Expendables, or films with low expectations like Machete, Takers, Going The Distance, and Clooney's The American. Machete stars Danny Trejo, a character actor not known for his star power, Takers didn't get much pre-release buzz, and Going The Distance was just another romantic comedy that's just like the last romantic comedy that even women only force their boyfriends to take them to as a form of punishment, so the competition was pretty lean.

3. Ye old bait and switch. The trailers and the ad campaign made the movie look like it was an action packed thriller more along the lines of Clooney's bread and butter Ocean's franchise than his other films.

According to most reports the audiences who paid to see something akin to the Bourne Identity, instead got a slow moving character study and that the trailer that wooed them, literally had every action scene in it. That means no real thrills or surprises, what was supposed to be the appetizer, ended up being the main course.

Will The American stay at #1?

Probably not.

Fall awards season and the traditional smaller genre counter-programming is set to begin soon, and I don't think there's going to be any room for this film in it.

1 comment:

  1. je pressman8/9/10 4:14 am

    Yes,Clooney is a a kind of publicity product,a collection of People magazine covers and spots on evening media gossip shows. I have always thought that Brad Pitt was also a publicity product sold to the public as a fine actor and stud.Now that's the key,if the publicity relentlessly tells the public that Clooney is a great actor ,well after a number of years it is an accepted fact.In fact a number of critics including a Time magazine critic and a Wall Street Journal critic have praised his performances extravagantly.Critics opinions can be shaped by publicity,they are not immune and of course they admire his politics.In the 50's Clooney would have had to stand up to stiff competition,Lancaster,Newman,Douglas, Brando,Peck,Grant,Burton,Clift,Heston etc;..it is a long list.Would he have made the cut? Right now the only actor I can think of who would have been included would be Crowe. But hey that's okay in just a few years the only movies the studios will be making are animated films filled with wise cracking ,adorable animals,and toys.