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J. Edgar Hoover Movie Trailing Another 'Gay' Political Drama + Johnny Depp & Eddie Murphy Bomb

Nov. 13 update: At no. 5 on the domestic box office chart this weekend, Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar raked in $11.47 million – at the very lower end of expectations – as per studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. The J. Edgar Hoover biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover, Armie Hammer as his associate and intimate companion Clyde Tolson, and Naomi Watts as FBI secretary Helen Gandy averaged an acceptable – though not very promising – $6,005 at 1,910 locations.

As mentioned in a couple of previous posts, comparisons to Gus Van Sant's Oscar-nominated Milk, which were possible on Wednesday, are impossible to make at this stage. Written by J. Edgar's Dustin Lance Black, the 2008 drama starring Sean Penn as gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk never played at more than 900 North American sites – and that expansion took place around Oscar time, more than two months after the film's late November debut. Made for a reported $20 million, Milk went on to gross only $31.84 million at the domestic box office; J. Edgar's final tally remains up in the air, for it depends on the film's box office hold in the next couple of weekends.

Another comparison: Ridley Scott's 2008 political thriller Body of Lies, which features DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, opened with $12.88 million and went on to cume at only $39.39 million in North America. Body of Lies fared much better abroad – totaling $75.7m; but considering that J. Edgar Hoover is a nonentity outside the United States, J. Edgar's chances of doing well internationally will fall squarely on DiCaprio's box office pull.

Now, that pull is considerable. No wonder Eastwood, Scott, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, and others want DiCaprio starring in their films, no matter how little he may resemble the characters he's portraying. Beginning with Titanic in 1998, every single DiCaprio star vehicle has earned more money – oftentimes much more money – overseas than in the domestic market. Movies as varied as Catch Me If You Can, Shutter Island, The Departed, Revolutionary Road, Inception, The Man in the Iron Mask, Blood Diamond, The Beach, Gangs of New York, and the aforementioned Body of Lies.

Also, it's worth noting that several of Eastwood's latest movies – the ones featuring stars such as Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie – have performed much better abroad than in the United States. Hereafter took in $72.45 million overseas vs. $32.74 million in North America; Invictus $84.74 million vs. 37.49m; Changeling $77.28 million vs. $35.73 million. (Flags of Our Fathers, showing the US side of World War II, was a flop abroad; Letters of Iwo Jima, which showed the Japanese side, though hardly a blockbuster was a much bigger success overseas than in North America.)

At least on the domestic front, Warner Bros. may have jumped the gun by opening J. Edgar in early November. Debuting in late December, Scorsese's The Aviator, a 2004 biopic starring DiCaprio as eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, never earned more than $11.36 million (about $14.5 million today) per weekend. But as a result of lots of awards season buzz, The Aviator had very modest weekend drop-off rates. Ultimately, the film went on to gross $102 million in North America and $111 million internationally.

Shot for approximately $35 million, Clint Eastwood's film currently has a mediocre 55 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. But even without an awards-season buzz as strong as that of The Aviator, J. Edgar likely would have performed much better domestically during the height of awards season. After all, Oscar chances are still possible for the film, for Eastwood, for DiCaprio, and in various technical/craft categories.

In addition to DiCaprio, Hammer, and Watts, J. Edgar also features Josh Lucas as Charles Lindbergh, Judi Dench as Anne Marie Hoover, Miles Fisher as Jim Garrison, Lea Thompson as Lela Rogers (Ginger Rogers' right-wing mother), Jeffrey Donovan as Robert F. Kennedy, and Dermot Mulroney as Norman Schwarzkopf.

Also: Gunner Wright as Dwight Eisenhower, Christopher Shyer as Richard Nixon, Ken Howard as U.S. attorney general Harlan F. Stone, Jennipher Foster as Lucille Ball, plus Stephen Root, Ed Westwick, Amanda Schull, Michael Gladis, Josh Stamberg, and Zach Grenier.

See also: Adam Sandler in Drag Flops: 'Jack and Jill'

J. Edgar picture: Keith Bernstein / Warner Bros.

Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, In Time
Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, In Time

At no. 6, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas added $5.9 million (down 55 percent) at the North American box office this weekend, as per studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. (Domestic total: $23.19m; cost: $19m.) Featuring John Cho and Kal Penn, the Harold and Kumar movies do nearly all of their business in North America.

Starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, In Time pulled in $4.15 million (down 45 percent) at no. 7. (Domestic total: $30.66m; worldwide: $83.76m; cost: $40m.) Paranormal Activity 3 passed the $100 million mark after adding $3.62 million at no. 8. (Domestic total: $100.82m; worldwide: $189.42m; cost: $5 million, not including millions more spent on marketing.)

Rounding out the top twelve were Kenny Wormald's Footloose with $2.73 million (worldwide: $58.87m); Hugh Jackman's Real Steel with $2 million (worldwide: $229.24m); Brad Pitt's Moneyball with $1.1 million (worldwide: $79.19m; with modest openings overseas, as expected for a baseball movie); Alex Kendrick's Christian drama Courageous with $1 million (domestic: $58.87m; those types of movies are made strictly for a particular segment of American moviegoers).

Gone from the top twelve was George Clooney-Ryan Gosling's The Ides of March, with a cume of $38.38 million in North America.

Barring three newcomers – Clint Eastwood/Leonardo DiCaprio's J. Edgar, Tarsem Singh/Henry Cavill's Immortals, and Dennis Dugan/Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill – among the top twelve movies, Paranormal Activity 3 had the highest drop-off rate, down 56 percent. Puss in Boots had the lowest, down 23 percent.

Also among the top twelve,Immortals had the highest per-theater average, a 3D-assisted $10,383 (approximately 66 percent of the film's revenues came from 3D screenings). Courageous had the lowest, $1,105.

In Time photo: Stephen Vaughan / 20th Century Fox

Previous post

Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar
Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar

At no. 5 on the domestic box office chart on Friday, Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar raked in $4.25 million as per Box Office Mojo. If the J. Edgar Hoover biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, and Naomi Watts reaches $12 million for the weekend, that means an acceptable – though not very promising – $6,312 average at 1,901 locations.

Comparisons to Gus Van Sant's Milk, which were possible on Wednesday, become trickier at this stage. Written by J. Edgar's Dustin Lance Black, the 2008 drama starring Sean Penn as the gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk never played at more than 900 North American locations – and that expansion took place around Oscar time, more than two months after the film's late November debut. Made for a reported $20m, Milk went on to gross only $31.84 million at the domestic box office; J. Edgar's final tally remains up in the air as it depends on the film's box office hold in the next couple of weekends.

Another comparison: Ridley Scott's 2008 political thriller Body of Lies, which features DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, opened with $12.88 million and went on to cume at only $39.39 million in North America. Body of Lies did much better overseas – totaling $75.7 million – but considering that J. Edgar Hoover is a nonentity abroad, J. Edgar's chances of doing well at the international box office will fall squarely on DiCaprio's shoulders.

Perhaps Warner Bros. jumped the gun by opening J. Edgar in November. Debuting in late December, Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, a 2004 biopic starring DiCaprio as eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, never earned more than $11.36 million (about $14.5 million today) on a weekend. But because of lots of awards season buzz, The Aviator had very small weekend drop-off rates. Ultimately, the film grossed $102 million in North America and $111 million internationally.

Shot for $35 million, Clint Eastwood's film currently has a mediocre 55 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. But even without an awards-season buzz as strong as that of The Aviator, J. Edgar likely would have performed much better at the domestic box office during the height of awards season. After all, Oscar chances remain for the film, for Eastwood, for DiCaprio, and for various technical/craft categories.

J. Edgar also features Stephen Root, Ed Westwick, Amanda Schull, Michael Gladis, Josh Stamberg, and Zach Grenier, in addition to Josh Lucas as Charles Lindbergh, Miles Fisher as Jim Garrison, Lea Thompson as Lela Rogers (Ginger Rogers' right-wing mother), Jeffrey Donovan as Robert F. Kennedy, Dermot Mulroney as Norman Schwarzkopf, and Gunner Wright as Dwight Eisenhower.

Plus Judi Dench as Anne Marie Hoover, Christopher Shyer as Richard Nixon, Ken Howard as U.S. attorney general Harlan F. Stone, and Jennipher Foster as Lucille Ball.

Wrapping this up, let me add that both Puss in Boots and Paranormal Activity 3 will pass the $100 million mark this weekend.

See also: Henry Cavill 'Immortal's Disappoints

J. Edgar picture: Keith Bernstein / Warner Bros.

Previous post

Armie Hammer, Leonardo DiCaprio, Judi Dench, J. Edgar Hoover
Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson, Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover, Judi Dench as Anne Marie Hoover, J. Edgar

According to unproven – and quite possibly unfounded – rumors, FBI emperor J. Edgar Hoover enjoyed wearing some nice-fitting dresses every now and then. Ironically, this weekend the all-powerful Hoover will surely be beaten at the U.S. and Canada box office by another cross-dresser: Adam Sandler in Jack and Jill. How the mighty have fallen.

At no. 5 on the domestic box office chart, Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar will likely rake in $10-$12 million for the weekend after grossing $3.5-$4 million on Friday. Even if the Hoover biopic reaches $12 million, that means an acceptable – though hardly very promising – $6,312 average at 1,901 locations. (Deadline has $13 million for the weekend, but that could be a typo, unless Warner Bros. is expecting the adult-oriented J. Edgar to soar on the weekend proper, much like Puss in Boots and other kiddie flicks.)

Comparisons to Gus Van Sant's Milk, which were possible on Wednesday, become trickier at this stage. Written by J. Edgar screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, the 2008 drama about the gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk never played at more than 900 North American locations – and that happened more than two months after its late November debut. Made for a reported $20m, Milk went on to gross only $31.84 million at the domestic box office; J. Edgar's final tally remains up in the air as it depends on the film's box office hold in the next couple of weekends.

Eastwood's film was reportedly shot in 39 days for $35 million. It currently has a mediocre 55 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

J. Edgar stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover, Armie Hammer (one of the leads in Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror, which opens next year) as the FBI honcho's intimate companion Clyde Tolson, Naomi Watts, Stephen Root, Ed Westwick, Amanda Schull, Michael Gladis, Josh Stamberg, and Zach Grenier.

Also: Josh Lucas as Charles Lindbergh, Miles Fisher as Jim Garrison, Lea Thompson as Lela Rogers (Ginger Rogers' right-wing mother), Jeffrey Donovan as Robert F. Kennedy, Dermot Mulroney as Norman Schwarzkopf, and Gunner Wright as Dwight Eisenhower.

And finally: Judi Dench as Anne Marie Hoover, Christopher Shyer as Richard Nixon, Ken Howard as U.S. attorney general Harlan F. Stone, and Jennipher Foster as Lucille Ball.

J. Edgar picture: Keith Bernstein / Warner Bros.

Nov. 10

Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar Hoover
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar

Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar Hoover biopic J. Edgar grossed $52,645 according to Box Office Mojo. The Warner Bros. release starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the FBI honcho and Armie Hammer as his intimate “friend” Clyde Tolson is currently screening at seven locations. The film's average was a not-too-impressive $7,571 per theater.

For comparison's sake: on November 26, 2008, Gus Van Sant's Milk, another biopic about a gay figure written by J. Edgar screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, collected $268,000 at 34 locations, averaging $7,897 (about $9,150 today) per site. Remember that all things being equal, the lower the number of theaters, the higher the per-theater average should be. In other words, Milk had a considerably stronger first-day opening than J. Edgar. But then again, Milk opened the day before the Thanksgiving holiday; that could have made a difference. Milk, which stars Sean Penn as slain gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, went on to gross $31.84 million in North America and $22.74 million overseas.

J. Edgar expands to nearly 2,000 theaters tomorrow, Nov. 11. Some pundits are expecting a weekend debut in the mid-teens. Reviews haven't been exactly positive – 66 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics – though J. Edgar remains a strong Oscar contender as long as it delivers at the box office. If the film fails, there go its Best Picture Oscar chances. That's what happened two years ago, when Rob Marshall's Nine and Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones turned out to be both critical and box office disappointments. Even Eastwood's Invictus, which garnered mostly positive reviews, failed to be shortlisted after it flopped in North America.

In addition to DiCaprio and Hammer, the J. Edgar cast includes Naomi Watts, Stephen Root, Ed Westwick, Amanda Schull, Michael Gladis, Josh Stamberg, and Zach Grenier. Josh Lucas as Charles Lindbergh, Miles Fisher as Jim Garrison, Lea Thompson as Lela Rogers (Ginger Rogers' right-wing mother), Jeffrey Donovan as Robert F. Kennedy, Dermot Mulroney as Norman Schwarzkopf, and Gunner Wright as Dwight Eisenhower.

Also: Judi Dench as Anne Marie Hoover, Christopher Shyer as Richard Nixon, Ken Howard as U.S. attorney general Harlan F. Stone, and Jennipher Foster as Lucille Ball.

Photo: J. Edgar (Warner Bros.)

Nov. 8

Johnny Depp, The Rum DiaryCurrently with $10.63 million at the North American box office, The Rum Diary has the dubious distinction of possibly ending up as the biggest Johnny Depp flop in “very wide” release – movies screened at more than 2,000 locations. Among 38 Johnny Depp titles found on Box Office Mojo's inflation-adjusted list, The Rum Diary ranks no. 31.

With luck, The Rum Diary will ultimately settle somewhere between What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Astronaut's Wife, and Cry-Baby. With inflation-adjusted box office totals ranging between $15m-$19 million, those are all releases from the 1990s – before Depp became a worldwide box office superstar as a result of Gore Verbinski's international blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003.

In case The Rum Diary manages to outgross The Astronaut's Wife, it'll be Depp's second-lowest-grossing movie in “very wide” release. In order to achieve that feat, The Rum Diary will have to earn more than $16.7 million in the US and Canada, an amount that is theoretically within its reach. Otherwise, Depp's second stab at a starring in a film version of a Hunter S. Thompson novel will remain at the bottom of the box office barrel.

Directed by Bruce Robinson, The Rum Diary also features Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Rispoli, Amaury Nolasco, and Enzo Cilenti. FilmDistrict distributed this drama-comedy-adventure mix in North America. Overseas prospects aren't exactly great, though The Rum Diary has opened relatively well in Russia, collecting more than $4 million in 10 days.

Depp's previous Hunter S. Thompson foray, the Terry Gilliam-directed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, came out in 1998. That psychological drama was a major box office disappointment despite supporting performances and cameos by the likes of Benicio Del Toro, Ellen Barkin, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Katherine Helmond, Mark Harmon, Gary Busey, Lyle Lovett, Harry Dean Stanton, Michael Jeter, and Cameron Diaz. At the time, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas grossed $10.68 million (approx. $18 million today) in the domestic market, of which about half went to distributor Universal; the film's official budget, not including marketing/distribution expenses, was $18.5 million.

Another major Johnny Depp box office flop, the period drama The Libertine, was dedicated to Hunter S. Thompson. Directed by Laurence Dunmore, The Libertine pulled in a mere $5.87 million (adjusted for inflation).

As per Box Office Mojo, Depp's biggest overall flop ever is Emir Kusturica's Arizona Dream. The 1995 release drew approx. $200,000 (adjusted for inflation).

The Rum Diary photo: Peter Mountain / FilmDistrict

Nov. 8

Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Tower Heist
Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick in Brett Ratner's Tower Heist

Featuring the voices of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, Puss in Boots remained at the top of the North American box office on Monday, Nov. 7, even though animated movies lose steam on weekdays. Despite an 84 percent drop – and in its second week out – the DreamWorks/Paramount release collected $1.63 million, thus once again beating Brett Ratner's actioner Tower Heist, which took in $1.51 million.

Tower Heist finally reached $25 million on its fourth day out. Its current cume is $25.54 million. Early estimates had the movie earning around $30 million over the weekend. Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy (who hasn't been very lucky at the box office in the last few years), Gabourey Sidibe, Casey Affleck, and Matthew Broderick star.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas was very disappointing indeed. The New Line/Warner Bros. release has yet to reach $15 million after adding $1.03 million at no. 3 on Monday. Chances are that this latest Harold & Kumar comedy won't get even close to the $38 million (not adjusted for inflation) earned by Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay three years ago.

Another movie that has yet to reach $25 million is the Justin Timberlake-Amanda Seyfried sci-fi thriller In Time. Its current cume stands at $24.55 million, after adding $563,000 at no. 4 on Monday. In Time has been out for 11 days.

At no. 5, Paranormal Activity 3 added $505,000. Currently at $95.62 million, the horror movie will likely pass the $100 million mark this coming weekend.

Next in line were Johnny Depp's The Rum Diary with $274,000 at no. 6 and Kenny Wormald-Julianne Hough's Footloose with $267,000 at no. 7. Hugh Jackman's Real Steel collected $207,000 at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were George Clooney-Ryan Gosling's The Ides of March with $139,000, the Christian drama Courageous with $134,000, Logan Lerman-Milla Jovovich's The Three Musketeers with $133,000, Brad Pitt's Moneyball with $124,000.

Among the top twelve movies, Tower Heist had the highest per-theater average, a humdrum $450. The Three Musketeers had the lowest, $72.

Also among the top twelve, Puss in Boots suffered the steepest Sunday-to-Monday drop-off rate, the aforementioned down 84 percent. The Rum Diary had the lowest, down 62 percent.

Tower Heist picture: Universal Pictures

Nov. 6

Puss in Boots, Antonio Banderas, Kitty Softpaws, Salma Hayek
Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), Puss in Boots

Partly as a result of last weekend's snowstorm along the northeastern coast of the United States, DreamWorks Animation's Puss in Boots had a soft opening, $34 million. Since there was no cataclysmic snowstorms (and no Halloween festivities) this Nov. 4-6 weekend, the Shrek spin-off recouped some of that previously distracted audience, thus earning an estimated $33.05 million. The animated feature was down a mere 3 percent from a week ago according to studio estimates.

Directed by Shrek the Third's Chris Miller, Puss in Boots features the voices of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Amy Sedaris. The film, which cost an estimated $130 million, has also collected $39 million overseas.

At a disappointing no. 2, Brett Ratner's Tower Heist pulled in an estimated $25.1 million, which is at the very lower end of (official) studio expectations, and about $3-$10 million less than many pundits had been predicting. Starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, Tower Heist averaged an acceptable – though hardly “good,” considering the film's star wattage and heavy marketing – $7,455 per site at 3,367 locations.

Eddie Murphy apparently has one more box office disappointment to his credit, though the $85 million action caper could be considered a huge hit when compared to Imagine That's $16.12 million cume and Meet Dave's $11.8 million. The last Eddie Murphy star vehicle to earn more than $100 million – or even $20 million – at the domestic box office (adjusted for inflation) was Norbit in 2007. (Approximately $111 million in 2011 dollars.)

Just this past week, Forbes magazine listed Murphy as the most overpaid actor in Hollywood. Director Ratner, however, stands by his star. Not only has Ratner gotten Murphy to host the Academy Awards ceremony next year, but he has also told TheWrap that he and Murphy are planning to join forces on another project (not Beverly Hills Cop 4).

Tower Heist also collected $9.5 million at 23 foreign markets. Those are hardly blockbuster figures, especially considering that the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain are included among those countries. Perhaps that's because Murphy isn't a major draw overseas, while Stiller usually underperforms outside the Night at the Museum and Meet the Parents/Meet the Fockers/Little Fockers franchises.

Since the year 2000, the only Eddie Murphy star vehicle to earn much more abroad than in North America was The Haunted Mansion in 2003. During that same period, the only non-Museum/Fockers Ben Stiller movie to do much better abroad was The Heartbreak Kid in 2007 – not a difficult task, as the film was a domestic flop.

Besides Stiller and Murphy, the stellar Tower Heist cast includes Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Gabourey Sidibe, Téa Leoni, Michael Peña, David Chappelle, and Alan Alda.

Puss in Boots picture: DreamWorks Animation


         
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2 Comments to J. Edgar Hoover Movie Trailing Another 'Gay' Political Drama + Johnny Depp & Eddie Murphy Bomb

  1. zac

    @sidsbowl

    The 66% approval rating referred to RT's *top critics*. It's now down to 55%.

  2. sidsbowl

    The total rottentomatoes score for J Edgar is, in fact, a truly dreadful 39%, the same as “Immortals”. So how many Oscars will “Immoratals” receive?