Funny People Earns a Less-Than-Funny $23 Million


Well, why don’t we just officially come out and say it, now? “Summer season at the movies has been crap!”

Okay, maybe it really hasn’t been that bad, but it sure feels that way to some people. This downer of a weekend sort of highlights the general mood and disappointment that a lot of fans feel towards the movies that have been served up lately. Here’s Funny People, a movie that Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow are all associated with. Sandler is known for delivering the hits during summer season, while Rogen and Apatow are known for delivering the goods. Yet the potential audience is yawning over the prospect of seeing this movie. It only opened to $23 million. Not exactly a blockbuster situation we have here. In fact the studio had already been lowballing and predicting a $25 or $26 million opening, and this movie didn’t even do that kind of business.

Let’s set aside the merits of the actual movie for a second and talk about why no one rushed to theaters in droves to see it. It sounds as if it really wasn’t so bad a movie, but I gotta be honest with you here — this is a movie I had no desire to see. And that’s surprising coming from me, because I’m usually a big Judd Apatow fan and normally want to see most of his productions. Something about this movie seemed off, however, as if it wasn’t his typical output. The subject matter– death — sounded depressing. I guess I was hoping he might serve up another one of his wild and crazy productions this summer, but this one looked stale and unenjoyable to me. Or maybe, deep down, I feared the worst — that it would be yet another typical Apatow production. It’s getting to the point where you know exactly what to expect from an Apatow production, right down to the cast members. His act really is getting stale in a hurry.

As for Sandler, you pretty much know what to expect from him. I suppose he tried to play it straight this time. Anyway, I have a feeling people are tired of Adam Sandler, too, and sick of seeing the same people at the theaters. Also a big problem is the fatigue with seeing the same franchises and the same series over and over again. Harry Potter no doubt suffered from some of that, too, and we have seen so many sequels and so many of the usual actors and actresses served up this summer, from Sandra Bullock to Katherine Heigl. And really, how many movies have Sandler, Apatow and Rogen done recently? Quite a few.

Maybe the general muted reaction to Funny People is a symptom of something larger going on. I talked before about how people have been feeling like they got burned at the theaters by the productions served up from all the usual people. A lot of people felt ripped off after seeing Bruno, for one thing, and there’s even been some grumbling over the latest Harry Potter movie. I do think the negativity out there is having an impact, especially this month. It’s August already (my God, summer’s about over), and I find that usually late summer is when the cynicism sets in with people who looked forward to summer movie season and feel, rightly or wrongly, they have been let down. I’ve seen this feeling before. I’m reminded of my experience at the showing of Miami Vice in 2006. It was late summer, there had been a string of lousy movies at theaters for weeks, and it was obvious to me that the customers were jaded, At the end of the movie the customers looked like they had lost their money, and one of the patrons stood up in the cinema and rendered his opinion about Miami Vice: “terrible!”

I think that similar feeling is back — especially for that G.I. Joe flick which, from the sounds of it now, may not turn out to be such a big piece of trash after all. But it doesn’t matter, because the fans are so cynical that they’re ready to fear the worst.

Anyway, I think my own reaction to this Funny People movie sums it up. When you’re a fan of the stuff that Judd Apatow normally puts out, and even you don’t want to see Funny People because you have no interest in the subject matter and feel you have seen it all before, then fat chance others will see it, either.

Of the other movies, it was $3,625,000 for The Collector, and $7.8 million for Aliens in the Attic. Overall, the box office for the first weekend of August looked like this:

  1. Funny People – $23,440,000
  2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – $17,700,000
  3. G-Force – $17,058,000
  4. The Ugly Truth – $13,000,000
  5. Aliens in the Attic – $7,800,000
  6. Orphan – $7,250,000
  7. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – $5,300,000
  8. The Hangover – $5,080,000
  9. The Proposal – $4,848,000
  10. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – $4,600,000

I’ve got to run, so that’s all for now. See you later this week with another edition of the Reject Report.

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