It’s not like they aren’t good movies. (Well, one really wasn’t in a big way.) But Amazon Studios has released five movies in 2018, and they have all been financial disasters.
The latest is “Beautiful Boy,” starring Timothee Chalamet as a drug addicted college student, Steve Carell as the father who dives in to save him. “Beautiful Boy” is based on two memoirs, by fahther and son David and Nick Sheff.
When I first saw the trailer, I put it up on this site and declared that I was sure it would be a big hit on the level of “Ordinary People.” It sure seemed like a tearjerker that would hit home with families going through similar traumas.
But “Beautiful Boy” seems to be a bust. In almost five weeks it’s earned just $5.2 million. This weekend it made $1.4 million playing in 776 theaters. By comparison, “Can You Really Forgive Me”– playing in 391 theaters– earned $70,000 more. The latter film is on the way up. The former is not taking off.
Even awards and nominations may not help “Beautiful Boy.” In four weeks, when the Golden Globes and critics groups in other cities announce their winners, “Beautiful Boy” won’t be in too many theaters if any. It will have run its course and moved over to Amazon Prime, where it may be confused with another movie with the same title from 2011 which was about a teenager who shot up his school and how his parents grappled with the outcome.
All together, Amazon Studios’ five films released since January 1st have made a total of $15 million. Two of them starred Joaquin Phoenix (“Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” and “You Were Never Really Here”). One of them was from the maker of the TV hit “This is Us” (“Life Itself”). One of them was from the director of last year’s critical hit “Call me By Your Name” (Luca Guadagnino’s remake of “Suspiria”). And then there’s “Beautiful Boy.”
Amazon has played its Oscar cards. The only one they have left is a Polish film called “Cold War” directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. It will undoubtedly be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, but it faces steep competition from films like “Roma,” “Capernaum,” and “Never Look Away.” It’s also in black and white and an economic 90 minutes. Right now, “Roma” — from Amazon’s rival Netflix– has the PR lead, but that could change.
Amazon, which had a major success two seasons ago with “Manchester by the Sea,” is struggling. Last year they struck out completely with three films by auteurs– Woody Allen, Todd Haynes, and Richard Linklater. They swung at the fences but it didn’t work out.