Home Movies Robert Downey Jr. in “The Judge” Proves to be a Hard Sell...

“The Judge” has been convicted. David Dobkin’s likeable big studio feature starring Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall has proven to be a hard sell at the box office. The movie did a very disappointing $13.3 million over the weekend, and finished 5th over all.

Warner Bros. tried everything with “The Judge” including opening night at the Toronto Film Festival. On Friday, the studio threw the film a swanky lunch at the historic 21 Club. Surprise guests including Sting and Trudie Styler, as well as Robert Downey senior, who has snow white hair now. (I remember the “Putney Swope” director from years ago.) It was great to see all of them.

There was even a moderated panel set up during dessert with Dan Abrams asking questions of Duvall, Downey Jr. and Dan’s dad, famed First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams. Guests included Dennis Christopher, the beloved star of the classic “Breaking Away”; New York actors Bob Dishy and Rutanya Alda, and famed defense attorney Gerry Lefcourt, as well as Pace Gallery art superstars Arne and Millie Glimcher.

Warner Bros. is having a tough year after 2013-2014 was such a hit with “Gravity” and critics’ darling “Her.” Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” is another hard sell, and Shawn Levy’s “This is Where I Leave You” left most people cold. But “The Hobbit” finale should be gigantic. And superheroes are always around the corner. I don’t mean Superman or Batman, but Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper with “American Sniper.” So get ready.

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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.
3 replies to this post
  1. Oh, what happened to your self-righteous proclamations about Gone Girl last week? You claimed audiences and book readers didn’t like it, yet it dropped only 36% from last week – practically unheard of in the industry. Why don’t you see the movie first before offering an opinion.

  2. The problem with this movie – at least from the commercials and trailer – is that we have seen this story many times before. I really expected it to be on the Lifetime Movie channel…estranged, rich father and son now have to work together during a tragedy and in the process learn about each other and forgiveness. Also see “This is Where I Leave You” but this one has “laughs”. The box office reflects that fatigue. Too bad with such a caliber of great actors in both movies.

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