Looking back over the year I see three legitimate romantic comedies. In March there was Failure to Launch starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker and then in June there was The Break-Up starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. Then we come to November and the release of The Holiday from Nancy Meyers, a.k.a. Miss Rom-Com, the woman that wrote Baby Boom, Father of the Bride and 2003’s success Something’s Gotta Give. Meyers admittedly told me in an interview that she hates this new opening weekend focus on dollars, but you have to wonder how one of her movies comes in third when everyone had it predicted to come in at number one.
Let’s look back shall we? Failure to Launch was up against some weak competition in The Shaggy Dog and came in number one its opening weekend with $24 million on its way to $88+ million at the box-office. The Break-Up took it up a notch with $39 million on opening weekend edging out X-Men: The Last Stand‘s second week and ultimately ending up with $118+ million at the box.
Then there is The Holiday, picked by many to end around $15 million and our own Box-Office Oracle had it at $20 million, and overall weekend number one. It has star power in Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, Kate Winslet and Jude Law. It has rom-com know-it-all Nancy Meyers, and it has the holiday season. Everything is in its favor. The only thing this movie has to worry about is Apocalypto, but I don’t see romantic comedy audiences sitting at home debating whether to see an action adventure pic filmed in Mayan or the latest Nancy Meyers chick flick. Actually, they weren’t debating at all, they decided on neither as The Holiday opened in the number three position with a meager $12.7 million and followed that up with a number five slot and another $8 million the following weekend. So far it is now up to $25 million domestically, $60 million shy of its $85 million budget. So what went wrong?
Let’s look at the first obvious detail; Jack Black is not exactly going to put asses in the seats as a romantic lead, as a matter of fact it doesn’t look like Black is going to put asses in the seats as any kind of lead thanks to the poor performance of The Holiday and his very own Tenacious D hitting rock bottom pulling in only $8.2 million after four weeks in theaters and already having a DVD release date in February. Let’s also not forget the Nacho Libre, which earned a 37% critic rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.8 IMDB user grade. Not stellar numbers even if the film did earn over $80 million at the box. If you want someone else’s opinion on Jack Black, a negative one at least, check out Sam Anderson’s opinion at Slate, he is not happy with what he calls the “squandering of Jack Black’s awesomeness.”
Next we have Cameron Diaz. Here is an actress who has not really had her face out there since 2003 and it isn’t like In Her Shoes had people buzzing even if it was a pretty good movie. Yeah, there was Shrek 2, but last I checked people weren’t raving about Princess Fiona. Oh, she’s dating Justin Timberlake? Who cares?
Finally we have Kate Winslet and Jude Law, two actors highly regarded for their skills as dramatic actors. However, as romantic leads these two are virtual unknowns. Jude’s Alfie did horrible numbers back in ’04 and Kate has hardly had a mainstream role since 1997 in Titanic. In my review of the film I said how great both of these two were in the film and even said “this is quite possibly the best role Jude Law has ever turned in.” It is against type, but this really was one of Jude’s best performances ever.
Now, I will say that critics weren’t as kind on the film as I was as it has a 46% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and even the people that saw it rate it a 6.6 at IMDB, but were the reviews what kept audiences away? I can’t believe that considering Failure to Launch was given a 27% approval rating at RT and The Break-Up only 33%. Last I checked both of those numbers are worse than 46%.
I can only conclude that Jack Black doesn’t sell as a romantic lead, Cameron Diaz no longer sells and Kate Winslet and Jude Law just aren’t America’s cup o’ tea when it comes to romantic-comedies. I personally thought Nancy Meyers made excellent casting choices and I loved the film, calling it the best romantic comedy since Love Actually. Hmmmm, I guess I could throw in there that no one cares about my opinion as well. I am going to go cry now…
If you agree or disagree let me know. Was it bad marketing? You hate holidays? What? Why didn’t you go see it?