Damage Report: The Three Musketeers


Another new semi-regular feature where we look at a few of the recent movies after they’ve been released and ask “What Happened?” Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers is one of the cases where one would think everything would add up to at least a mid-sized hit in the $30 or 40 million range, but after two weeks, it hasn’t even made $20 million domestically.

You may notice that there wasn’t a review of the movie on the site, but that’s because Summit Entertainment decided not to screen it for critics and it took us a few weeks to get around to seeing it. It’s not a great movie and has problems–like the 20 minutes where none of the 3 Musketeers appear on screen–but you can tell that it certainly has potential, and it deserved to do more business than the $16 to 17 million it’s made so far.

This was supposed to be one of Summit Entertainment’s bigger non-“Twilight” movies of the year and clearly, they thought they were getting a lower-budget “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but probably the first mistake they made was trying to open it against Paranormal Activity 3, which made sure that it would be completely overshadowed. It ended up making just 8.6 million its opening weekend, not the worst opening of the last couple months, but absolutely terrible when you realize the movie cost $90 million to make.

I’m pretty sure that director Paul W.S. Anderson and the entire cast also thought they were making “Pirates of the Caribbean” as well, and while Anderson is a visionary filmmaker, he hasn’t proven he can deliver the quality of films as Gore Verbinski, nor did he have Johnny Depp. Other than Anderson’s baby mama Milla Jovovich and possibly Christoph Waltz, there really wasn’t a star of any size caliber that could get people into theaters.

Sure, Logan Lerman had starred in Chris Columbus’ Percy Jackson & the Olympians and others like Ray Stevenson and Matthew Macfadyen had at least appeared in relatively popular movies even if few would recognize them. Really, the casting of the Musketeers themselves weren’t bad but there were quite a few other bad performances, most notably Orlando Bloom, who was playing a villain for once… and badly at that. Jovovich herself tried to play a nodding and winking character called Milady, who was constantly trying to make the movie look “Fun! Fun! Fun!” but really just came off as quite annoying.

Even though the movie clearly didn’t have a strong enough cast to get people into theaters, the fans of the Alexandre Dumas books probably saw the movie as an aberration with all its newfangled tech that made the movie look a bit too much like a Wild Wild West, and that hurt any sort of namebrand value that having the title “The Three Musketeers” might have had in bringing in fans of the books or the previous movies.

The pushing of the 3D probably didn’t help, because audiences are still very dubious of the format after being ripped off all year – in fact, the theater I saw it at completely forgot to hand out 3D glasses and those of us who realized this had to go back down three flights to get them. One older couple watched the entire movie without glasses, never realizing why it was so blurry! So yeah, 3D hasn’t really caught on, at least not in the way that many (including yours truly) have hoped, and if theater employees don’t seem to realize they have to give out glasses for people to see the movie properly, who knows why dumber moviegoers who don’t realize they’re paying a premium when they go to see 3D movies don’t also realize they need glasses to watch them properly?

That may have been an isolated incident, although certainly, there never seemed to be any sort of incentive to pay extra to see the movie in 3D and it was immediately removed as soon as stronger movies came along.

At least the movie is doing much better in other regions, including Germany, UK, Russia, and Brazil where it’s grossed more than the domestic gross with $94.7 million internationally. Fortunately for Summit, they didn’t pay for the movie to get made and were only distributing domestically, but they also don’t see any of that money from international either. Chances are that selling off the distribution rights has helped the movie make back its money (or it will once DVD sales and rentals come into play) but this was clearly an experiment gone wrong, and it’s doubtful Anderson will be able to turn this into a successful franchise ala the “Resident Evil” movies (which they’ve already gone back to make a fifth movie.)

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