- The Beaver movie box office: Directed by Jodie Foster and starring her off-screen friend Mel Gibson – who hasn’t had a personal commercial hit in about a decade – this low-budget, unenthusiastically received psychological drama has turned out to be a commercial bomb. Mixed reviews were no help.
- Also flopping were Roland Joffé’s There Be Dragons, starring Charlie Cox and Wes Bentley; Massy Tadjedin’s Last Night, starring Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington; Mitch Glazer’s Passion Play, starring Mickey Rourke, Bill Murray, and Megan Fox; and Daniel and Diego Vega Vidal’s Peruvian black comedy-drama October.
The Beaver movie box office: Starring Mel Gibson and directed by Jodie Foster, this cooly received psychological drama has flopped in limited release
May 6–8 weekend box office (cont.): Directed by two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner Jodie Foster (The Accused, 1988; The Silence of the Lambs, 1991), starring two-time winner Mel Gibson (as the director and co-producer of Best Picture winner Braveheart, 1995), the unenthusiastically received psychological drama The Beaver flopped badly in the North American (U.S. and Canada only) market this past Mother’s Day weekend, debuting with a meager $107,600 from 22 locations as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
The independently produced tale of a troubled, middle-aged toy company CEO (Mel Gibson) who uses a hand-puppet beaver to communicate with others, The Beaver averaged a mediocre $4,889 per venue. Although some of its $21 million budget (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses) has been covered by foreign pre-sales, that’s hardly good news for distributor Summit Entertainment.
For comparison’s sake: With little publicity, no stars, no star director, and infinitely worse reviews, Paul Johansson’s Atlas Shrugged: Part I, based on Ayn Rand’s 1957 “libertarian” novel, opened three weekends ago at 299 theaters, averaging $5,608 per site. Remember: All things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters showing a movie, the higher its per-theater average should be.
Something else to keep in mind: Atlas Shrugged has turned out to be not only a critical but a commercial dud as well. In other words, things look bleak indeed for The Beaver.
And yet … Summit is reportedly still planning to add more screens for The Beaver on May 20. Just don’t be too surprised if that expansion is eventually either scrapped or drastically scaled down. In fact, it’s unclear whether this Jodie Foster-Mel Gibson collaboration will manage to reach as little as $1 million domestically.
Delayed opening a miscalculation?
The Beaver had been scheduled to open for awards season consideration in fall 2010. But then the Mel Gibson-Oksana Grigorieva phone scandal got in the way and Summit announced it was shelving the film indefinitely.
As things began cooling off, the studio, which had previously handled the U.S. release of Roman Polanski’s potentially contentious political thriller The Ghost Writer, let it be known that The Beaver was going to hit North American theaters in March 2011, following its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival.
But then the domestic debut was further postponed to early May, with a planned expansion later in the month.
Obviously, the delays haven’t paid off. Grigorieva conveniently dropped her domestic violence charges against Gibson days before The Beaver opened, but if that had any positive commercial effect, it wasn’t noticeable.
Unless, that is, The Beaver was destined to become an even bigger box office dud.
Mel Gibson to blame?
Now, why is The Beaver such a flop?
Surely timing can’t be the only explanation – or even the chief one. This past Mother’s Day weekend, it’s hardly as if competition was fierce for a psychological drama directed by and starring big Hollywood names, and featuring a “talking” puppet rodent. Really, even Universal’s (ahem, radically different) Hop is on its way out.
So, could the problem then be its controversial star?
In February 2010, Martin Campbell’s $80 million crime drama Edge of Darkness, starring Mel Gibson in his first vehicle since M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs in 2002, opened with a passable $17.2 million from 3,066 venues. However, it was downhill from there, with Edge of Darkness cuming at a mere $43.3 million domestically and an even weaker $37.8 million internationally.
Now, in all fairness there’s absolutely no way to be sure whether The Beaver’s failure was a result of Mel Gibson’s boorish off-screen behavior (the Oksana Grigorieva scandal, his anti-Jewish rants). It could just as easily have been due to audiences having little interest in “small” films apart from those marketed as Oscar frontrunners – e.g., Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech ($135.5 million domestically) and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan ($107 million domestically).
After all, The Beaver wasn’t this past weekend’s only “small-movie” flop. See further below.
The Beaver movie cast
Besides Mel Gibson, The Beaver features director Jodie Foster as the toy story CEO’s wife, Anton Yelchin as the couple’s teenage son, and Best Actress Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, 2010) as the teenager’s romantic interest.
Also in the cast: Zachary Booth, Riley Thomas Stewart, Cherry Jones, and Jeff Corbett. Original screenplay by Kyle Killen.
Update: The Jodie Foster-Mel Gibson collaboration The Beaver ultimately collected $970,800 domestically and $6.3 million (likely incomplete) internationally. Worldwide total: $7.3 million.
That’s a disastrous figure.
Its top international markets were France ($1.3 million), Italy ($1.1 million), and Mexico ($819,000).
More Mother’s Day weekend box office flops in limited release
Directed by two-time Oscar nominee Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields, 1984; The Mission, 1986), the Spanish Civil War-set drama There Be Dragons, featuring Charlie Cox, West Bentley, and Dougray Scott, debuted with $705,500 from 259 locations, averaging a meager $2,724 per site. Overwhelmingly negative reviews were no help; There Be Dragons has a dismal 14 percent approval rating and 4.1/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics.”
Next in line: With a mediocre 50 percent approval rating, Massy Tadjedin’s romantic drama Last Night pulled in $29,500 from ten locations. That translates into a paltry $2,950 per theater. In the cast: Best Actress Oscar nominee Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice, 2005) and Avatar actor Sam Worthington as a married couple who, after a fight, are tempted to stray by the likes of, respectively, ex-boyfriend Guillaume Canet and coworker Eva Mendes.
Faring even worse, Mitch Glazer’s critically excoriated Passion Play (3 percent approval rating) opened with an ungodly $2,100 from two sites. In the cast: Best Actor nominees Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, 2008) as a small-time jazz musician and Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, 2003) as a gangster who wants the musician dead, in addition to sultry Transformers actress Megan Fox as a winged freak-show performer.
Compared to Passion Play, Daniel and Diego Vega Vidal’s Peruvian black comedy-drama October / Octubre, which opened with $7,100 from two locations, feels like a blockbuster.
“The Beaver Movie Box Office” endnotes
Featuring Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, and Angela Bassett, Salim Akil’s low-budget romantic dramedy Jumping the Broom may turn in a (possibly modest) profit, while the Kate Hudson-Ginnifer Goodwin romantic comedy Something Borrowed is bound to become a money-loser.
Unless otherwise noted, “The Beaver Movie Box Office: Mel Gibson + Jodie Foster ‘Arthouse’ Collaboration Bombs” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about The Beaver and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Mel Gibson The Beaver movie image: Ken Regan | Summit Entertainment.
Wes Bentley There Be Dragons movie image: The Samuel Goldwyn Company.
“The Beaver Movie Box Office: Mel Gibson + Jodie Foster ‘Arthouse’ Collaboration Bombs” last updated in February 2023.
I thought the movie was thought provoking, made me realize what mental illness can really do to a family and this movie showed that-the actors were superb..Mel is and has always been a talented actor, director producer and person.
I’m still going to see this movie; have been waiting for it forever. It didn’t come to my city for its limited release. Hopefully, it will be here May 20. It’s a small film with a small budget covered mostly in foreign pre-sales. It was never meant to be a blockbuster no matter who starred. A better comparison to movie release might have been The Hurt Locker. All that said, there are movies that don’t do well in the theater and they are great movies.