Clint Eastwood’s new film, “Invictus,” fell short of its objectives this weekend at the boxoffice.
Perhaps limited release would have helped it get out of the gate. Last year, Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” had a little over $11 million in the bank when — after 29 days — it went into wide release Jan. 9. It made $29.4 million on its first big weekend.
“Invictus” has a lot going for it, but a lot against it too. The main subjects are racism and rugby, and in a foreign country. Those are not accessible topics for American audiences. There’s no love story. And no women. And there’s little explanation of what’s going on.
The main draws are Morgan Freeman, a beloved actor, as Nelson Mandela, a beloved leader, and an always likable Matt Damon as a rugby captain. Neither may be enough, though, to help “Invictus” pick up steam in America. Conversely, “Invictus” may find a big audience overseas, where rugby and race are more familiar topics.
Irronically, Warners is riding high right now with the flip side of “Invictus.” In “The Blind Side,” you have a strong woman – Sandra Bullock – plus a little race, and a little football, which is explained in detail by Bullock’s character several times. “Invictus” is better acted and directed, but “The Blind Side” is the easier choice for American audiences.