Home Movies Box Office Update: Bette Midler-Billy Crystal Comedy Beats Tom Cruise Shooter-Upper

Here’s an update on Christmas Day box office, thanks to numbers from boxofficemojo,com: Bette Midler and Billy Crystal’s family comedy, “Parental Guidance,” with Marisa Tomei, handily beat Tom Cruise in “Jack Reacher” for fourth place. The first three films were “Les Miserables” with $18.1 mil, “Dhango Unchained” with $15 mil, and “The Hobbit” with $11.3 million.

But who would have expected Midler and Crystal, names not seen above the credits or opening a film in more than a decade, to knock it out of the park? With $6.3 million they outpaced Cruise by $1 million. Of course, with kids, on Christmas, do you take them to see a Disney type comedy or a movie where a sniper picks off five people in the first few minutes? You tell me.

Kudos to Midler and Crystal, who are not exactly family fare from the old days. They were both pretty R rated comedians, delivering cutting edge stuff with a sweet smile. Now, in their 60s, they just deliver the sweet I guess. Imagine if Midler stopped in mid movie and told one of her old bawdy jokes!  But you know, now they’ll get a little franchise out of this, maybe one or two more “Parental Guidance”episodes and find a new audience. That’s called reinvention.

As for Cruise, who has refused to reinvent himself, “Reacher” has been something of a reach. The thriller now has $23.5 million since Friday, which wouldn’t be bad if your star didn’t get the first $20 million before costs and the movie didn’t cost at least $80 million. I guess some of that will be mixed into his “Mission Impossible” pay out.

Elsewhere, “Zero Dark Thirty” is doing well, but presenting an interesting problem day to day. On Monday and Tuesday it did less well than on the weekend. Instead of building interest, the Kathryn Bigelow directed thriller (yes, it’s a thriller) didn’t maintain its highs in very limited release. It’s hard to say how this bodes for the future. All the controversy should have pushed more people to see it, as they did for “Django.” But maybe “ZD30” will fare better once the kids are back in school.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
16 replies to this post
  1. Was invited to a sneak preview of “parental guidance”. I laughed thru-out the movie probably because I identified with Bette & Billy as the unconventional grandparents. As a grandparent, I’ll do anything to entertain my grandson & to make him smile & laugh. Thumbs down to violence, thumbs up to fun!!!

  2. Reacher is a big dude 6ft 5in. Heavily muscled, jack reacher is not shrimp whimp tom cruise. Whoever picked the cast, blew it. Been a big fan of Lee Child’s books. But will NOT

    go see this bogus movie. Not with miniature cruise as the lead actor.. very dissapointed

  3. I predicted that the audience would turn away from violent movies because it’s overkill at this time of year. I’m surprised the Guilt Trip isn’t doing better than it is, was hoping wom would help, but this is as good for the American public. The more people turn away from violent movies (don’t go!) and more to family values and comedy, maybe Hwd will get the message.

  4. I didn’t Cruise NEEDED to “reinvent” himself. After a gazillion tickets sold and countless millions in his bank account, I think ol Tom is doing pretty well. Perhaps Mr. Friedman should work on “inventing” himself.

  5. Who would have thought that a 5’6″ guy with a 12 foot ego playing the well established role of a 6’5″ 250 puond “Bad Ass” would have trouble delivering a message to an intelligent audience. talk about a casting missmatch? I hope they paid Lee Child a ton of money to let cruise play the role. Not really much else to say

  6. Why didn’t Cruise’s movie do so well? Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is why. Absolutely ridiculous. Jack Reacher is supposed to be 6’5″ tall. Cruise is about 5’5″. Too many people knew this.

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