The tragedy of “Tower Heist”: a star packed action flick that’s made a disappointing $125 million worldwide. It should have made twice that number. And it had to, with big paydays for Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, director Brett Ratner, decent checks to Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, et al. The production budget came to around $125 million. After all, they re-staged the Macys Thanksgiving Day parade here in New York.
And what does it mean for Eddie Murphy? He was/is one of the most effective comedians ever. His one man stand up shows in the 1980s were amazing. Even his smallish role in “Tower Heist” showed glimmers of his genius. But as a movie star, it does seem like he is done as leading man. His presence in the “Tower Heist” promotions didn’t do much to help the film. Its $75 million US take (and its $50 million international) suggests that for Eddie, his name means less than it ever did to audiences as incentive for spending money at the box office.
Murphy has not had a real hit of his own since 2003 with “Daddy Day Care.” Prior to that. two sequels– to “The Nutty Professor” and “Dr. Dolittle”–in 2001 and 2000, were just over $100 million hits respectively. Hard to believe but those years were a decade ago.
But look at the rest of his resume–“Imagine That,” “Meet Dave,” “Pluto Nash,” “I Spy,” “Showtime”– it’s a list that isn’t even wanted in bins of $2 DVDs. “Pluto Nash” made under $5 million–isn’t that what Eddie spends on vacations? If it weren’t for the animated, ensemble “Shrek” films, his name would have disappeared a long time ago. Granted, “Dreamgirls” was a hit and garnered him an Oscar nomination. But Murphy didn’t seem to get it, or to like it very much. When he lost the Oscar, he got up and exited the Kodak Theater in a huff.
And Murphy made no effort to follow up “Dreamgirls” with a project that signaled his interest in extending his career or capitalizing on the momentum. The dreadful “Norbit” came out during his Oscar campaign and made $95 million by piggybacking on the Oscar press. But it was also considered the reason he lost the Oscar to Alan Arkin in “Little Miss Sunshine.”
Long long ago no are the days of “Beverly Hills Cop,” “48 Hrs,” their sequels, and “Trading Places.” Murphy is probably very, very rich so none of this matters financially to him. His next film, called “A Thousand Words,” doesn’t seem like it will do much to help the situation. The plot sounds like it’s a reworked “Liar Liar” (the old Jim Carrey comedy). And it’s leftover from Dreamworks’ Paramount deal.