Thursday, July 18, 2024

Soft Box Office, Oscar Doldrums as Hollywood Fights Bad Publicity and No Campaigning


It wasn’t a great weekend at the box office.

The third “Fifty Shades” installment made just $38 million as audiences and the couple on the screen lost interest in the whole affair. Luckily, “Fifty Shades Freed” didn’t cost too much since it was made simultaneously with its predecessor. And you know that three years from now someone will launch it as a mini series on a TV like platform so Christian Grey and Ana won’t be forgotten. They will just be recycled.

There was overwhelming apathy toward Clint Eastwood’s “15:17 to Paris.” The train didn’t leave the station. Not having stars was a big issue. Also, the linear screenplay killed it. Eastwood experimented, and I liked it (so did a few others) but the audience was impatient. And for the second time this year, we learned a lot about Sacramento. (“Lady Bird” being a more successful tourist promotion for California’s capital.)

The total box office number was grim. The Olympics on TV were an easy attraction to divert from the theater going. Plus, an overall pall hangs over Hollywood right now. Show business is eating itself alive as vicious accusations flying back and forth in every direction. The dirty laundry has been exposed like never before. Did anyone stop to consider the economic consequences? “Who’s next?” is the topic of conversation everywhere. And I don’t mean “who’s next” to get an Oscar? No, “who’s next?” to be ruined, embarrassed, shamed, humiliated, destroyed, ripped to shreds and vanished from society?

At the same time, there’s zero discussion of the Oscars. That’s largely because the Academy prohibits campaigning after nominations are announced. So beginning January 23rd, pretty much all events and socializing stopped. That amounts to about 7 weeks of silence prior to an election. Can you imagine if that were the case in politics? All the hoopla that occurred in November, December, and early January comes to a halt. None of the Oscar movies are having much enthusiasm at the box office, either. By March 4th weekend, even “Black Panther” — which will have a huge opening next Friday– will be history.

Oscar voting begins February 20th and ends on the 27th. Wake up, Academy members. Is it “Three Billboards”? “Shape of Water”? or something… else…

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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