Saturday, April 13, 2024

Box Office: Disney’s “Avatar 2” Has Blue Christmas as Even ABC Critic Panned It, A Fail for “The Whale”


“Avatar 2” has come up short. Disney was hoping for a blow out with upwards of $175 million this weekend. The total is more like $130 million, which is certainly a big number but not the one to crow about. It is starting to look like a Blue Christmas for a movie that everyone waited for for 13 years and cost at least $250-$300 million.

You could tell, though, as the big day arrived that “Avatar 2” was going to be underwhelming. “Visually Stunning” is a nice way to say it looks great, but how is it different from the first movie? And there are going to be a lot more episodes? You’ll need a snorkle.

One indicator of how weird this is: ABC’s Peter Travers panned it. Disney owns ABC! ABC had a TV special just for “Avatar 2”! But that couldn’t get Travers, who’s usually upbeat about most Big Director films, from even equivocating. He just didn’t like it! To wit: “it’s a long sit. The movie drags in spots and Cameron hasn’t lost his tin ear for dialogue.” Ouch!

Why am I not surprised by the negative reaction to “The Whale”? When I saw the film at the Hamptons Film Festival, I thought it was emotionally manipulative and over hyped. Since then, a lot of audiences didn’t like its take on the morbidly obese.

This second weekend of release saw a roughly 50% drop from the debut week. This weighty movie is not going to get off the ground. Brendan Fraser is fine, but his 600 pound fat suit is turning people off. The incredible nostalgia for Fraser, who was never a great actor, is not going to carry this thing over any threshold. Fraser is lucky: this is a light year for Best Actor nominees. He will get the semi-final nod because of it, but he won’t win.

Fraser’s 90s nostalgia seems similar, by the way, to the sentimental clamor for Ke Huy Quan in “Everything Everywhere.” It’s nice to see the “Indiana Jones” kid back, but this is a martial arts sci fi movie that becomes repetitive very quickly. Again, a nom for Best Supporting Actor, but Judd Hirsch and Brendan Gleeson are the real candidates for the top honor.

PS Loved the “CBS Sunday Morning” valentine to Paramount Pictures not so subtly hidden in their piece on Margot Robbie and Paramount’s “Babylon.” CBS and Paramount are sister companies under Viacom, which I didn’t hear mentioned (must listen again). The movie’s not very good, but the studio! The studio is helping pay the bills for CBS and vice versa.

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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