Everyone thought the movie about “Richard Jewell” was dead. On its first weekend, the Clint Eastwood film took a drubbing. Either audiences disapproved of a scandal that had been concocted around it, or they were apathetic to the subject matter. This, despite very good early reviews and general excitement that Eastwood at 89 had made another lean, mean movie.
Well, “Richard Jewell” isn’t dead. On Friday it made 755,000. Then on Saturday it zoomed up to $1 million. The estimate for today is higher than Friday: $805,000.
If “Richard Jewell” were a person (and he was), medics would have already zapped him with paddles a couple of times, called in specialists, and did everything they could to not only revive him and but encourage his speedy recovery. So, where’s the love now for this film?
It seems like people who are going to see “Richard Jewell” are enjoying it and telling their friends. The friends are going. The box office will cross $10 million on Monday or Tuesday at the latest. Then we go into a ten day vacation period (at least a 7 day one for a lot of people). It’s possible that “Richard Jewell” will hit a sweet spot in that time. It would really happen if there were ads on TV encouraging everyone to see it.
This movie is important. It’s a cautionary tale about how fear drove the media in Atlanta, the justice system there, and local and federal law enforcement to stir public sentiment against an innocent man. Richard Jewell did not plant a bomb that blew up in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. But he swiftly became the wrongly accused terrorist. His reputation and life were destroyed. Once the damage was done, it took years to exonerate him.
Eastwood has made a taut, exciting film with great performances from Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, and Kathy Bates, each of whom deserves an Oscar nomination. A campaign to discredit this film caused critics groups to overlook it, and there was little help from the studio. But it’s possible the audience will save it, which would be ironic.