George Clooney’s latest movie, “The Ides of March,” debuted over the weekend and left Sony studio execs scratching their heads over the less-than-expected box-office take of $10.4 million.
Audiences weren't exactly raving about the film either, but they still liked it enough to grant it a "B" at CinemaScore. By comparison, “Real Steal,” the weekend's No. 1 box-office movie, hauled in $27.3 million and scored an "A."
After decent reviews from critics and a warm reception at the Venice and Toronto film fests, Sony executives were expecting a lot more from “Ides.” But now future hopes of profitability rest with the awards that the film may potentially garner.
The movie, which is based on Beau Willimon's 2008 play titled “Farragut North,” is a left-of-center dream sequence. The truth is that Clooney’s character would only be able to obtain a nomination from a major political party or be elected to high office in a make-believe world.
The character's No. 1 issue is greener energy, which he claims is the pat solution to end warfare in the world. He also wants to outlaw the internal combustion engine and is proud of not being religious minded, even going as far as to belittle opponents who talk about their faith.
A.O. Scott of The New York Times called the movie "an image of the liberal heart's desire," and the Los Angeles Times described Clooney's character as "a hardcore liberal's dream candidate."
“Ides” portrays members of the GOP and centrist Democrats as dastardly villains, which should strike the fancy of many of the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who may just toss some nominations at the film.
Even with the disappointing debut weekend, Sony can take some comfort in the money that was laid out for the flick. Deadline reports that the movie’s production budget after rebates came in at about $12.5 million.
Still, squeezing a movie’s budget can have some negative consequences. If people perceive that corners are being cut, it can harm the word of mouth that oftentimes is the component that propels both the box-office and would-be awards.
The critic for The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern, wrote that, as a result of the limited budget, the film feels “underpopulated.”
“Ms. [Marisa] Tomei's reporter appears to be the only news person working the campaign in a Cincinnati whose streets are so empty that every day looks like Sunday,” Morgenstern opined.
It hasn't gone unnoticed that Clooney's promotion of a left-leaning political movie may not be the greatest fit for the times. Nikke Fink pointed out on Deadline.com that “marketing a political film from the liberal Clooney — especially when he’s director, producer, and writer — is a tough task in this deeply divided 2012 election climate.”
Sony has tried to downplay and perhaps even conceal the liberal political fairy tale aspect that is part and parcel of the film’s plotline.
As Fink noted, despite Clooney having made the cover of Time magazine, co-star Ryan Gosling was featured on the studio’s promo materials.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and has made several appearances there on landmark decisions. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for InternationalEsq.com. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood.
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