Poor 20th Century Fox. This summer, the studio has taken a major stumble at the box-office. Lacking a film from any of its successful franchises (X-Men, Die Hard), Fox instead rolled out horror-movie retreads (The Happening and Mirrors), a film about a TV show cancelled five years ago (X-Files), and Meet Dave, which debuted with an embarrassing $5.3 million.
In May, the studio was at the top of the Hollywood heap, with the largest marketshare in town. Now, it’s in fifth place, trailed only by one other major studio, Disney. Fox’s highest-grossing film this summer was May’s What Happens In Vegas, which benefited from Fox’s impressive marketing ability and weak competition (Speed Racer), but only pulled in roughly $80 million in the U.S.
Fox will likely bounce back this fall and next year, with Wolverine and a Night at the Museum sequel. But don’t count on a rebound from this weekend’s Babylon A.D., Vin Diesel’s “long-awaited” comeback. (Not sure who was waiting, but whatever.) Director Mathieu Kassovitz has already lashed out at Fox for turning his vision into a disappointing film:
“I’m very unhappy with the film,” he says. “I never had a chance to do one scene the way it was written or the way I wanted it to be. The script wasn’t respected. Bad producers, bad partners, it was a terrible experience…”
Kassovitz points to the studio, “Fox was sending lawyers who were only looking at all the commas and the dots,” he says. “They made everything difficult from A to Z.” The last stroke, Kassovitz says, was when Fox interfered with the editing of the film, paring it down to a confusing 93 minutes (original reports were that 70 minutes were cut from the film; Kassovitz says the number is closer to 15)…
“Babylon will probably have a good first weekend, but the second weekend we’re going to lose 30%,” says Kassovitz. “I don’t see how people who went through all these amazing blockbusters like The Dark Knight and Iron Man this summer will take it.”
More awful reviews have been streaming in from actual critics (even though Fox didn’t screen the picture for them). As of this morning, Babylon had only a seven per cent freshness rating on rottentomatoes.com.
Babylon is tracking well with guys under 25, according to the LA Times, and could open with $10-13 million, which is good for labour Day weekend but not a blockbuster opening, by any measure.
And as of Wednesday it still wasn’t one of the five highest-selling films on Fandango. What was the most popular movie in terms of daily ticket sales? The Dark Knight.
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