movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Thu Feb 12 2015, 04:07pm | 25 comments
But if there was a press screening of the film in London, it was kept a bigger secret than Christian Grey’s Red Room. So I’ll catch the film when it opens tomorrow and post a review over the weekend.
UPDATE: My review is up now.
It’s moments like this that make me want to suggest “Seeing Hollywood Films So You Don’t Have To” as a tagline.
Yeah. Given all the hype around this flick, the fact there wasn’t a screening in London seems bizarre. Not a good indicator.
It may be regarded as “criticism-irrelevant” – it’s a big name, lots of people will see it even without having read a review, so avoiding screenings helps avoid early negative reviews.
Over at Rotten Tomatoes, it’s been getting terrible reviews, but the Audience Score says that 87% of the people they polled want to see it.
I think the movie will do well in its first weekend, because of the publicity, but it could bomb in the long term. Movies with heavy sexual content tend not to do well at the box office, unless they’re really controversial. The novel has been attacked by some feminists, but otherwise, it hasn’t gotten people all that upset (although lots of people have made fun of the writing).
The book is extremely popular, of course, but people can read it at home by themselves. If they see the movie, they have to go out in public, and other people will know they’re watching a “sex film.” Basic Instinct had a thriller plot, so people could pretend they were just watching a mystery. This movie doesn’t.
It may still be a huge success. A lot of people are predicting that. But I’m not totally convinced, and the lousy reviews aren’t likely to help.
Even if you’re right, and I hope you are, opening weekend is all that really counts now until the final sales are in (including overseas, DVD, VoD, and everything else).
I’m actually surprised that it appears to have screened in the US. As RogerBW says, this has a massive built-in audience who do not care what critics will say. There was no reason to screen it.
Its budget is (reportedly) a very modest (for Hollywood) $40million. It may well make that in the first weekend.
Actually the reviews are way better than I had anticipated. I thought it might end up in the single digits, and yet, as of this posting, it’s at 37%.
I’m with you, in that I don’t think it’s going to do as well as some people are predicting. That whole American “sex stuff makes me uncomfortable” business. The quality will have nothing to do with it.
Sadly, my wife says she wants to go see it. She read the books, admits they are terrible, but still wants to see the movie. I don’t get it. She pays very little attention to the overall movie scene, and never reads reviews. We are opposites in this, so me pleading with her about all the bad reviews won’t help my case against it. She very rarely wants to go to a movie that I’m not on board with, so I feel like I should go. But, ewww. And I’m not referring to the content. I just don’t like supporting BAD movies.
Focus Features is so convinced it will make money, they’ve already announced production on the sequels. Then again, Focus Features is a small, boutique studio, and by starting now, they’ve likely locked their stars in for small salaries. So on a $40M budget, “make money” could mean as little as $50M or $60M in domestic box office.
You make a good point about the difference in reading at home and seeing the film in public. However, one of the reasons “FSofG” became a phenomenon was because it made it acceptable for women to publicly say they were consuming porn.* I rather expect the film to cause the same but more so, given the (ahem) penetration of film in our culture over literature, and the fact that the movie isn’t even rated NC-17 – in other words, nowhere near porn.
*insofar as “FSoG” can be considered pornographic. But not only that, I noticed it seemed to make a not insignificant number of women publicly declare themselves connoisseurs of porn, the way they turned their noses up at “FSoG”.
As I understand it, the usual multipler is 2.5 – domestic box office has to be 2.5x budget for the film to be considered profitable. (The cinemas get their cut, and some other costs don’t come off the nominal budget, even before you get to Hollywood creative accounting.)
It screened in my area on Wednesday night the 11th, I went.
just keep in mind, the original draft of the books was twilight fan fiction.
that should limit it right there.
I usually see more like 2x budget on domestic, but sure. But Focus is such a small house, their form of “creative accounting” has got to be more, shall we say, forgiving, or they’d hardly ever have a “successful” movie. Only 3 of their top 10 moneymakers have managed it.
But I could be wrong. Maybe they’re banking on “FSoG” pulling down $100M, even though their highest grossing film ever, Brokeback Mountain, only made $83M.
Limit it to what?
An audience of idiots. Which is nearly limitless.
I know you’re all dying to know what I think of 50 Shades of Grey…
I’m not. ;-)
however, Twilight series was *amazingly* successful.
The trailer was horrendous. I’m looking forward to one of those classic MaryAnn red light reviews.
On the subject of “we’re dying to know your opinion”, may I suggest the Argentine sensation Wild Tales?
There’s a slim chance that she *might* like it actually. Fifty Shades sort of reminded me of Ang Lee’s Lust, Cation (2007) and, all the critics, positive & negative are saying that Johnson gives Anastasia Steele genuine character and personality, so yeah, think about it.
It might just be she’s interested in the subject. If so, I really recommend the writing of Pat Califia. Or any essay or interview of Mistress Matisse.
This EL James is a horrible writer.
My curiosity has more to do with the stars. I had already thought that this movie could either make an actor’s career or kill it dead. How good would they have to be to overcome this material, whether the movie gets good reviews or not? Presumably they’ll both still make a living off the sequels, but will they get any other work?
I have no access to that film yet. Sorry. It looks like I won’t be able to see it before the Oscars, for sure.
Oh, she’s a very cultured woman. Devours books overnight, where I take weeks and weeks. She reads probably half fiction and half non-fiction. All sorts of smart science/medical stuff that would make my head explode. But she also loves vampire books, and whatever offshoots there are. Mostly as a breather in between the deep stuff, I imagine. She knows most of them aren’t much good, but likes them anyway. Kind of liking a “bad” movie just for the fun of it.
I’ll mention these people to her, and see if she’s aware of them. Thanks.
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