Conspicuous Flops Litter Otherwise Upbeat Cinema

By Robert Marich  
   Nov. 1, 2015-The explosions you hear in Hollywood are bombs going off at the box office, which is going through a rough patch. Star vehicles Our Brand Is Crisis (Sandra Bullock) and Burnt (Bradley Cooper) flopped grossing just $3.3m and $5.1m respectively over their premiere weekend domestically.
   “Despite changing its release date a few times (and the film title at least once), the Bradley Cooper chef dramedy Burnt is … well, toast,”
the star-power of Sandra Bullock is overwhelmed by political theme in Our Brand Is Crisis

says a article by Anthony D’Alessandro. “It only got a B- CinemaScore and is struggling in late shows, perhaps due to tepid reviews and/or the World Series.”
   I think the reason behind recent flop films is poor choices in subject matter. Indeed, cumulative year-to-date box is running 4.8% ahead of last year (though last year was admittedly weak). The weekend’s top film is holdover sci-fi drama The Martian, whose domestic box office reached a blockbuster $182 million and that indicates hits also sprinkle the cinema landscape.
   Illustrating my thought on subject matter, Warner Bros. release Our Brand Is Crisis is a political satire...but the American public is disgusted with politics (evidenced by two political outsiders leading the crowded field for Republican presidential contenders). Star power is in decline in recent years resulting in talent needed to be paired with crowd-pleasing subject matter to ignite box office.
   Instead, we get stars indulging themselves in personal passion projects that are a tough sell to audiences. In The Weinstein Co. cooking drama Burnt, handsome leading man Cooper plays an unlikeable character, which makes for drama but not did not interest audiences. The public envisions Cooper as being heroic and likeable, so he was cast against type.
   Box office busts of individual pictures are a mini trend. Other recent flops include big-budget retelling of Peter Pan in Pan, spy yarn The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Bill Murray satire Rock the Casbah, high-wire drama The Walk, big-budget yarn Fantastic Four and music drama We are Your Friends. Rock the Casbah is another obvious poor choice—making fun of America’s bitter involvement in the Afghanistan. Who thought that would be a crowd-pleasing funny subject?
   Another source of cinema flops are movies pairing a fast video-on-demand windows with cinema like Africa boy-soldier drama Beasts of No Nation. While cinema disappointed, the movie’s backer Netflix said that it is satisfied because of popularity of on-demand (indeed, the limited cinema release made Beasts seem all the more prestigious).
   Paramount Pictures field trial of fast VOD windows for horror films also stumbled with horror comedy Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, which grossed just $1.8 million to rank a lowly 12th in this its premiere weekend.
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