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What Went Wrong?: Vol. 35 – Late Summer Stink Edition
September 3, 2013Posted by on
Late summer is a dumping ground for bad movies. We all know this. Even would-be awards bait like Jobs was unkindly shoved to the hot month of August, where it grossed about fifty bucks and will clog Red Box machines and bargain DVD bins for years to come. But worse than Jobs are the two movies discussed today – two movies so bad it’s a total wonder why their studios didn’t just release them to video-on-demand, which would have been a far more respectable and dignified way to treat their actors, directors, writers, and production crews. Last weekend, the Ethan Hawke car-crash movie Getaway as well as the Eric Bana thriller Closed Circuit both opened to poor box office and bad reviews. Let’s explore why.
It seems almost unfair to pick on Getaway at this point. The generically-titled Selena Gomez/Ethan Hawke collaboration absolutely tanked at the box office last weekend, collecting a dismal 4.4 million dollars on just over 2,100 screens nationwide. Before its dead-on-arrival opening, Getaway was eviscerated by critics and nearly achieved the rare and dreaded 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, then some poor soul stepped in and gave it a good review (it now has two good reviews, one of which praises Hawke’s performance while the other praises the direction by Courtney Solomon), ruining the fun for the rest of us. Co-star Selena Gomez was particularly trashed by critics, who leveled heaps of scorn on the ex-Disney actress not seen since Lindsey Lohan in her ultra-bomb I Know Who Killed Me.
Described by critics as alternately boring, just plain bad, and “summer’s worst movie,” Getaway was never really expected to do much in theaters. Warner Bros. quietly dumped it over the long Labor Day weekend more so to get rid of the thing once and for all, maybe hoping that some of that generous The Purge money could rub off. Hawke has certainly been high profile this summer, starring in one of the best reviewed films of the year (Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight) as well as one of summer’s most surprising box office successes (the aforementioned horror film The Purge). Ultimately, Getaway ended up much more like Stallone’s flop from earlier this year Bullet to the Head, another little seen Warner Bros. release. Though even that film had a bit more hype surrounding it. Getaway was just a total dud from beginning to end.
Closed Circuit never looked like it had any chance whatsoever of becoming a hit film as well. Dumped into less than a thousand theaters (the kiss of death unless you’re a prestige picture), the Eric Bana/Rebecca Hall thriller from director Tom Crowley (who?) seemed far too British for American sensibilities. Released by Focus Features (the production studio behind this year’s earlier flop Admission), Closed Circuit grossed a mere 2.5 million dollars over the weekend, and probably won’t even make back its unannounced budget. Though it contains an absolutely dynamite supporting cast (Jim Broadbent, Julia Stiles, and Ciarin Hinds all have roles), I can’t imagine anyone at Focus thought it was a particularly good idea to toss Closed Circuit out there to the wolves of wide release, even if that wide release was only about 800 total theaters.
Ostensibly a story about the effect hundreds of thousands of closed-circuit cameras can have on society (with a bit of paranoia and terrorism thrown in for good measure) Closed Circuit was marketed as an adult thriller, with ads seemingly targeting couples over the age of 45. I can’t imagine the film caught the eye of anyone born after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It doesn’t help that Closed Circuit drew mixed-to-negative reviews, garnering a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. In most cases, films targeted solely towards adults need good reviews to succeed. This isn’t always the case, but in a crowded marketplace a movie marketed towards anyone over the age of about 35 lives or dies based on its word of mouth. So while Closed Circuit bombs (and probably all but disappears from theaters this coming weekend), something like Blue Jasmine or Lee Daniel’s The Butler continues to succeed. Them’s the breaks.