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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: ‘Vice’ pays… sort of

So, Michael Mann remakes his own work, doing it the way he wants this time — no TV network execs breathing down his neck today — and his darker, grimmer, less-Miami-ish vision for Miami Vice earns a little over $25 million during its first weekend. Which sounds pretty good, until you compare it to Mann’s last film — at least according to the people who watch box-office numbers and put great store in them: Collateral brought in about the same amount of moolah this time last year but cost half as much to produce.

Box Office Mojo suggests a reason for Vice’s underperformance, if that’s what it is:

Miami Vice’s positioning was in the league of such recent high profile, late summer action pictures as the Farrell-led TV show adaptation S.W.A.T., the Miami-set Bad Boys II and Universal’s The Bourne Supremacy, but its box office was significantly lower. Its marketing lacked a distinguishable plot, crackling character interaction and spectacle to get the job done. Instead, the ads boiled down to nifty music videos, with nary a note of Jan Hammer’s famous theme music from the TV show.

I’ll spot Mojo Bourne Supremacy, which is as smart as it is kickass, but I refuse to condone the likening of S.W.A.T. or Bad Boys II to Vice — Mann’s latest ain’t no simplistic action blow-up junk, and honestly, it’s way more than even the smart-but-kickass popcorn of Bourne. Maybe a release later in fall would have accorded it the greater respect it deserves: this isn’t a summer movie. It’s not escapist — it’s the opposite, sucking you into its nightmare. Hardly the stuff of summertime fare.

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  • Mark

    I can see what Mojo is saying, though — to the rank and file of moviegoers, based on the trailers and the view of Vice that they present compared to those of the other movies he mentions, there’s less to hold on to. The fact that Vice is a very differnt movie than the popcorn cop action of SWAT or Bad Boys II is only apparent after the fact. And I’m sure that many moviegoers would tacitly expect a Miami Vice movie to be more like a big TV show than like Heat or Collateral. Hell, I did.

    (and, yes I’m sure Mann knows the kind of movie he made … but he almost certainly has little say in how and when it’s marketed.)

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