erik lundegaard

Imagine Better

Here’s a question from last month’s box office quiz: Which film, among all 52 films that opened superwide (in 3,000 or more theaters) in 2008, grossed the least? The answer? Eddie Murphy’s (and Fox's) “Meet Dave,” which made only $11 million domestically.

This past weekend, Paramount distributed Murphy’s next film, “Imagine That,” into 3,000+ theaters again, with similar results. It finished sixth for the week, making $5.5 million, or $1,830 per theater. That’s pretty awful. Box office mojo uses the term “super-saturated” rather than “superwide,” and “Imagine That” has the fourth-worst opening weekend ever among super-saturated films—behind only “Hoot” (New Line), “The Seeker: The Dark is Rising” (Fox) and “Meet Dave” (Fox).

Murphy’s pattern feels familiar. The comedian who confronts the absurdities of society in blisteringly stand-up in his early days becomes, in his latter days, the actor who comforts and condones those same absurdities in limp, family-friendly comedies. That’s why I’m not interested in his films. But why is Hollywood still interested? Particularly if he keeps opening movies this way?

I guess they’re hoping for a “Norbit.” Let me repeat that. I guess they’re hoping for a “Norbit.” A film that didn’t cost much and made nearly $100 million.

Maybe they’re hoping for a “Doctor Dolittle,” which grossed nearly $300 million worldwide in 1998. They’re surely not holding out for a “Beverly Hills Cop,” which grossed $234 million domestically way back in 1984—the highest-grossing film of that year. Although maybe they are. “Beverly Hills Cop IV” is supposedly in development. As is “Fantasy Island.” As is “The Incredible Shrinking Man.” Both with Murphy attached.

Here’s a thought for the studios. Murphy might not be for summer anymore. Or he might not be for a superwide opening anymore. Or he might not be for movies anymore.

To funnier times.
No tagsPosted at 09:15 AM on Tue. Jun 16, 2009 in category Movies - Box Office  
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