The movie box office is mostly in disarray as the year ends. Comic book movies make hundreds of millions, everything else is a crap shoot.
So is the case with George Clooney’s “Suburbicon.” This weekend, Paramount finally pulled the plug and withdrew “Suburbicon” from 1,700 theatres after just three weeks. In its fourth week, the hybrid Coen Brothers film and race contemplation is playing in just 281 locations.
That’s a big studio release with Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, with a budget of at least $60 million. So far “Suburbicon” has made just $5.6 million. It’s a total write off for the studio, which is not seeing hits this fall.
The main problem with “Suburbicon” is the filmmakers not seeing the problems with tone in the screenplay. “Suburbicon” is two movies– a Coen Brothers retread of “Fargo” married to a lecture about race in the suburbs in the early 60s. Neither idea is very good. And then they are backed into each other hoping there will be a fit. There isn’t. It’s very hard to get the Coens’ unusual pitch just right, even for the Coens. Theirs is a very specific tune. Clooney missed it by a mile.
It’s not like Clooney hasn’t made good movies. “Good Night and Good Luck” is excellent, so is “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.” But I wish he would stick to acting. (See “Michael Clayton” or “Up in the Air” where he’s sensational.)
Paramount is about to undergo a sea change of major proportions, so it’s smart cut the losses quickly.