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What Went Wrong?: Vol. 6
July 17, 2012Posted by on
For today’s What Went Wrong? Segment, I want to take a look at two films, released within a few months of each other that featured female leads from critically acclaimed directors. These films have a few things in common otherwise as well; they both bombed at the box office despite solid reviews. So, let’s get into it.
Young Adult (2011)
Released in the midst of a fairly underwhelming awards season, Young Adult is the work of writer Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body) and director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air). Ostensibly the story of successful author Mavis (Charlize Theron) reconnecting with her past, including former lover Buddy (Patrick Wilson) and marginalized friend Matt (Patton Oswalt), Young Adult received enormous critical praise for its principle actors, including Theron as Mavis but especially for a much buzzed about Patton Oswalt performance. So, what went wrong? Though it was included on many best-of lists, Young Adult failed to garner any Oscar nominations at all, which probably meant a quick death for it at the box office. Previous Reitman films, including his collaboration with Cody, saw immense critical acclaim and spikes in box office numbers after Oscar nominations. It doesn’t help that Young Adult is classified as a dark comedy, a film genre which almost never succeeds at the box office. The movie was even classified by one critic as being the type of film to make you laugh, but also bruise you in the process. This more than likely turned away potential filmgoers.
Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire features the most unconventional action lead in mainstream film in a long time, former MMA star Gina Carano. Released in winter 2012 to mostly positive reviews, Haywire is the story of Mallory Kane, an international assassin who is double-crossed after a job gone wrong. Despite having a virtual unknown in its lead, Haywire features a bevy of bankable, well-known actors in its supporting cast, including hot commodity Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, and Bill Paxton. So, what went wrong exactly? Soderbergh is known for directing odd little independent films like The Girlfriend Experience and Full Frontal in addition to his more mainstream films like The Informant! and the Oceans series of movies. This is pretty much his only straight-up action film, and audiences responded with a resounding thud. Despite much critical acclaim, filmgoers gave Haywire a Cinemascore of D+, largely indicating a rocky road after opening weekend. Additionally, Carano was criticized as being dull and monotonous when she wasn’t in an action scene, and Soderbergh did admit to tinkering with her performance in postproduction. Soderbergh would go on to much greater success in 2012 with his hit film Magic Mike.