You see a movie trailer for the first time. You see the names of your favorite comedy stars in big, bold lettering flash on the screen before you. Maybe those names are Paul Rudd and Tina Fey! Before the rest of the trailer can play out, the only thought you can process is “this is comedy gold!”
So it’s hard to comprehend how romantic comedy Admission starring Paul Rudd, known for some of the most quotable comedy movies in recent history (Anchorman, Knocked Up, 40-Year Old Virgin) and Tina Fey (former SNL star/head writer, 30 Rock star, and all around accepted “funniest lady in comedy”) yielded a box office flop that grossed only $6.44 million in domestic theaters, one of the worst openings for a comedy movie in 2013.
The question that begs to be answered is “What’s up with comedy movies?”
Just a week ago, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone starring Steve Carrell, Jim Carrey, and Steve Buscemi grossed only $10.2 million in its opening weekend. Sure, the movie trailer looked straight up dumb, but the magician comedy was THE Jim Carrey’s return to comedy since Yes Man in 2008. But… then again that movie only grossed $18 million in its opening weekend.
Other comedy movies released this year also haven’t fared well.
Remember Movie 43? Not really? That Peter Farrelly movie with the impressive Oscar-winning filled cast including stars like Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Chris Pratt, Naomi Watts, Jack McBrayer, Terrence Howard, Justin Long, and pretty much everyone ever to star in a movie? Its only grossed $8.8 million (domestic) since it’s January 25th release.
A similar star-studded movie, InAPPropriate Comedy, including Adrien Brody, Rob Schneider, and Michelle Rodriguez grossed only $172,000 in its opening weekend. Folks, just to clarify that’s not millions that’s thousands. Admittedly, this one was bound to fail. I mean, the guy directing it was Vince Offer also known as the ShamWow guy/ prostitute beater. Yes, that’s right all aspiring filmmakers and writers. The ShamWow bro directed a movie and you still haven’t.
Opening at $8.7 million and grossing a total of $24 million since March 1st, the party-comedy movie 21 & Over didn’t hit a home-run with fans either.
Marketing strategies aren’t to blame for the box office tanks.
With the exception of InAPPropriate Comedy (cause no, really, the ShamWow guy directed this movie), all of this year’s comedy received generous exposure on TV and web outlets.
One of the very few comedies connecting with fans this year was Identity Thief, which grossed $34.5 million in its opening weekend and $127.7 million to date. The film starred Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy. And don’t forget rapper/ Rubber Band Man T.I. One could also make the argument that the small production budget for the Wayans’ exorcism spoof A Haunted House helps out their $40 million earnings since January 11th as a positive mark as well.
And you can’t blame the economy on this one. In fact, movie ticket sales were up $10.8 billion or 6% in 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times.
So why aren’t fans flocking to theaters for comedy in 2013? Could it be the explosion of TV comedies and the convenience of being able to watch those reruns on nearly every mobile device? Maybe it’s the easy access to nearly free comedy online via Netflix, comedy web series, and comedy podcasts? Maybe T.I. needs to make more appearances in comedy movies and show old school comedy pros like Jim Carrey a thing or two about jokes!
2013 has a few guaranteed movie blockbusters in store.
The latter part of the year will feature the return of Ron Burgundy in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, the culmination of the Hangover trilogy with Hangover III, and the reunion of Wedding Crashers stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in The Internship.
But then again who would have thought a movie starring the loveable Paul Rudd and Tina Fey would flop at the box office?
So that movie trailer you were watching earlier ends and you feel underwhelmed. It’s a romantic comedy that feels like it should be starring Matthew McConaughey (pre-Killer Joe) and Reese Witherspoon. There don’t seem to be any cameos from the usual suspects, Judd Apatow isn’t involved on this one, and you kinda feel like just waiting until it comes out on Netflix.
Why do you think comedy movies have been failing at the box office?