The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Critic-proof movie, thy name is not Noah, or Evan.
This weekend continued a Summer 2007 box office trend of movies that seem to disappoint, despite checking in at No. 1 on their opening weekend. The latest is Evan Almighty, the sequel to the surprise 2003 hit Bruce Almighty,
that had Jim Carrey playing God. Evan took in $32.1 million and finished atop the box office, which may seem like a success until you consider that $32 million is less than one-quarter of the movie’s production budget. At more than $200 million, Evan is the most expensive comedy ever made, and a less-than-stellar opening weekend seems to be bad news for recouping the investment.
It may also call into question the viability of marketing directly to Christian audiences. The Passion of the Christ posted a stunning opening weekend in 2004, crossing the $100 million mark in five days in February, not a traditional blockbuster month. At the time, many studios and observers acted like they had just discovered Christians might like to go to movies aimed at them, though marketing to the church audience has not seen a repeat of The Passion‘s success except with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which also came with literary cache, in 2005.
Part of that could be that with Passion many religious leaders made it seem like a moral imperative that their congregations go to the film about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The movie generated a lot of free advance publicity with a raging controversy about its portrayal of Jews and its extreme violence.
Now, if you went the Ichthus Christian music festival in Wilmore last weekend (photo, above), you would have had to stay in your tent with earplugs all weekend not to hear about Evan Almighty, how it was clean and the filmmakers were Christians. But it’s hard to make seeing a modern-day retelling of Noah with the star of The Office seem like a moral imperative, and when the reviews universally rip the movie, the job of selling it becomes even harder.
We’ll have to wait to see if a dove descends to the box office with about $160 million in its beak over the next few weekends for Evan.
Read the complete weekend box office chart from Box Office Mojo.
This coming weekend, it’ll be family fare vs. ultra-violence with Pixar’s Ratatouille opening against Live Free or Die Hard (which actually bows Wednesday). Also opening for more defined audiences are Michael Moore’s latest, Sicko, and one of the best line-ups of actresses you’ve ever seen — Redgrave, Streep, Close, Danes ring any bells? — in Evening.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich