Monday, April 15, 2024

Box Office Dump: “Silence” is Not Golden, “Monster Trucks,” “Monster Calls” Are Monster Flops


The January box office dump is in full swing.

Both “Monster Calls” and “Monster Trucks” are monster flops. And Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” is a huge disappointment, and a marketing disaster.

“Silence” was so late that Paramount probably should have done what they did with “Wolf of Wall Street”– waited out the Oscar window, taken the film to Cannes or Venice, and then come in next fall for 2018 Oscars. There was no time to build a consensus, explain what was happening, or what the film was about. The result i that a real masterpiece has been dumped, with no awards and no audience. It’s always easy to say these things in hindsight, but boy– what a wasted opportunity!

Meanwhile, Paramount — which has good hits with “Arrival” and “Fences” — had to dump “Monster Trucks.” A $10.5 million weekend for a $150 million project is mind bending.

Just a note about “Arrival”– here’s a case where Paramount played it like a Stradivarius. Early fall build up from festivals, lots of screenings, everyone was available. The outside publicist, Julie Tustin, just kept at it. And the payoff is $100 million box office, plenty of nominations and accolades. If they’d tried to force it in right before Christmas, “Arrival” never would have made it.

Warner Bros. is also taking a big hit this weekend. Ben Affleck’s “Live by Night” is dead. We saw this film before Christmas and knew it was a big ol flop but we weren’t allowed to say anything. Sienna Miller is the only highlight here, and she’s not really in it. Also, remember, Ben talked to Lindsay Lohan about playing that part back when she was in rehab. Anyway, you’ll see this on an airplane and think, What is this?

Focus has a huge disaster with “A Monster Calls.” It’s funny, too, because they have excellent reviews. But as with most well reviewed Focus Films, there’s no marketing or publicity. Focus has a new marketing chief who might be able to reverse their trend. I hope so. “Nocturnal Animals” was so good, and it all went south. “Loving” made not a dent.

A hit: Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day.” I didn’t like that it became a documentary at the end– that should have been a separate film. But it works on a direct level. And nice work from everyone. Plus, they tell the story from the terrorist’s POV, which makes the film a lot more engaging than it might have been.

PS A24 should put some money into “20th Century Women.” What a shame to let this evaporate. And Amazon should give a little more elbow grease to “Manchester.” Worth it!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
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.

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