- The Dilemma movie box office: Universal has kicked off 2011 with one more costly dud, as this $70 million Ron Howard comedy featuring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James has had what one of its characters would have referred to as a “(totally) gay” domestic debut. In other words: It’s an unadulterated bomb.
The Dilemma movie box office: Featuring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, panned Ron Howard comedy has ‘gay’ debut
Jan. 14–16 weekend box office (cont.): Landing at a distant no. 2 from Michel Gondry’s superhero flick The Green Hornet, Ron Howard’s comedy The Dilemma brought in a “gay” $17.8 million from 2,940 North American (U.S. and Canada) locations as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
Brought in a what?
Featuring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, this Universal Pictures release became best known for its gay slur controversy: Vaughn’s character makes a point of using the word “gay” as a putdown, as in, “electric cars are gay. I mean, not homosexual gay, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay.” CNN’s openly gay anchor Anderson Cooper was among those who found such derogatory use of the word “gay” an affront.
Not helping matters, U.S. critics found The Dilemma far gayer than the electric car. The movie has an embarrassing 31 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics.”
Limp box office prospects
Universal, the studio that last year gave the world a whole string of commercial bombs – e.g., The Wolfman (global take: $139.8 million; budget: $150 million), Green Zone ($113.4 million; budget: $100 million), Repo Men ($18.4 million; budget: $32 million) – has in The Dilemma its first 2011 dud.
Compounding matters, international prospects are far from rosy, as neither Vince Vaughn nor Kevin James has much of an overseas following. In fact, Wedding Crashers, Couples Retreat, Four Christmases (more details), The Break-Up, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (more details), Grown Ups (more details), and Paul Blart: Mall Cop made much more money in the United States than elsewhere.
Besides Vaughn and James as auto-designing partners working on a crucial presentation – just as Vaughn catches James’ wife kissing another man – The Dilemma features two-time Oscar nominee Winona Ryder (The Age of Innocence, 1993; Little Women, 1994) as James’ wife, Channing Tatum as the man she kisses, and Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, 2001) as Vaughn’s girlfriend.
Also in the cast: Amy Morton, Chelcie Ross, Clint Howard, and Oscar nominee Queen Latifah (Chicago, 2002). Allan Loeb (of the sleeper hit 21 and the box office bomb Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) was credited for the screenplay.
Update: Ron Howard’s The Dilemma ultimately collected a mediocre $48.5 million domestically and a(n expectedly) dismal $21.2 million (likely incomplete) internationally. Worldwide total: A disastrous $69.7 million.
Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($4.6 million), Germany ($4.5 million), and Australia ($3.7 million).
Weekend’s Top Five movies: Stuttering king & unbalanced ballerina
Rounding out the Top Five movies on this past weekend’s domestic box office chart were three strong Oscar contenders:
- At no. 3, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Western True Grit grossed $11 million (down 25 percent on its fourth weekend). Cume: $126.2 million. Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Hailee Steinfeld.
- At no. 4, Tom Hooper’s (more or less) historical drama The King’s Speech grossed $9.2 million (up 43 percent on its eighth weekend). Cume: $44.7 million. Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter.
- At no. 5, Darren Aronofsky’s psychological ballet thriller Black Swan grossed $8.3 million (up 3 percent on its seventh weekend). Cume: $73.2 million. Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Barbara Hershey.
”The Dilemma Movie Box Office” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “The Dilemma Movie Box Office: Vince Vaughn + Kevin James Comedy Has Totally ‘Gay’ Debut” 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 Dilemma 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.
Vince Vaughn and Kevin James The Dilemma movie image: Universal Pictures.
“The Dilemma Movie Box Office: Vince Vaughn + Kevin James Comedy Has Totally ‘Gay’ Debut” last updated in November 2022.