This 21 Jump St opening takes me back 5 years to a DreamAmount comedy called Blades of Glory, which people didn’t see coming… but was funnier than expected and much more successful than expected. Will Ferrell has a long history of these kinds of surprises… Jonah Hill doesn’t. But sometimes the pieces just fall together. Channing Tatum as girl-bait (as well as being funny here), Oscar-nominee Jonah, being the third high-profile teen movie in the last couple months (which will open the best of the 3), and the writer-directing team that has, once again, delivered beyond expectations. The number is slightly more muscular than Blades… befitting the rise in ticket price (a factoid which in this specific, narrow conversation is interesting and used more broadly is not).
Clearly, the negativity on John Carter cost it even more since last weekend’s opening. Brutal. And Project X is taking a hit from the new teen flick in the marketplace… and being brainless, boring calories.
Will the Summiteers point at Casa de mi Padre as an excuse for dumping Lionsgate marketing staff? Probably. But it will be silly. Hard to say whether, say, Paramount could have found a $9m opening there. It’s an odd niche product, but so was Nacho Libre.
On the other hand, Paramount couldn’t figure out Jeff, Who Lives At Home, which they (rightly) loved. The Duplass Bros film, which has been screening at fests for 7 months, somehow missed the part where all of its fans who write for a living became a singular voice, making this a must-see for intelligent adults. (Obviously, not 100% of people love it… but it’s had a wider embrace than any other Duplass or Duplassian work, so…) The studio kind of had the same problem with Young Adult, a film I am still mourning. (Perhaps coincidentally, Reitman and Mr Mudd are on this film as producers as well.)
I don’t see this as a problem of execution at Par so much as some kind of strategic issue. It feels, from the outside, as though when they have a good film with a potentially strong core, but a tough road to widening beyond that base, they do great strengthening that core and “forget” the support they might get from the rest of the media.
Don’t get me wrong. Paramount is clearly as strong as any movie marketing dept in the industry, if it’s not the strongest. But with so much big product, some of these smaller films are not opening the way they should… even when real loving care has been part of the dynamic.