It’s official. George Clooney‘s new movie, Leatherheads, is a flop. Despite being one of the major new releases this weekend, it opened second at the box office, well behind last week’s opener 21 and barely ahead of the kid’s movie, Nim’s Island.In Deadline Hollywood, Nikki Finke writes that Clooney’s latest, a
screwball comedy about the early days of football was seen in Hollywood as a referendum on Clooney’s popularity at the box office. Because right now he is a big movie star but not a big box office star, and his hefty paydays in big studio projects like this definitely depend on the latter. (To be fair, few movie stars nowadays are reliably performing at the box office…)
Wait a minute. I don’t get this. How can someone be a movie star without being a box office star? Isn’t a movie star supposed to be someone whose starring role in a movie sells tickets? And with the exception of Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels, his movies don’t do particularly well at the box office.
Have Hollywoods movers and shakers decided that he’s a movie star because he fits their image of what a movie star should be? Or is it that they like his politics? They want to have an outspoken liberal as the latest box office icon. But, they can’t make people buy tickets to his movies merely be deeming him a box office icon.
Heck, there’s even a book proclaiming George Clooney [to be] The Last Great Movie Star. While Clooney doesn’t do it for me, several friends (and family members) find him to be handsome, some strikingly so. And he has been pretty good in a number of movies (Out of Sight, O Brother Where Art Thou and Ocean’s Eleven), but unlike Cary Grant, the archetypal movie star if there ever was one, his mere presence in a movie doesn’t make the flic.
Usually, he’s just there with his smug mug, thinking he’s a star and that merely by showing up, reading his lines and smiling his (supposedly) winning smile, the movie will be a hit. But, the box office returns show us something quite different, only middling success and a cultural resonance now limited to Hollywood and other “bllue” enclaves across this great nation–and around the world.
UPDATE:Â Over at Libertas, Dirty Harry, one of the few people who has seen the flick, weighs in calling it “pretty bad. It reeks of post-production meddling, a script obsessed over by people too close to it, and a lack of theme and focus. . . .“Â Just read the whole thing.