As far as sophomore slumps go, Amy Schumer’s isn’t so bad.
Following her breakout success with TV’s Laugh-In and then the 1969 movie Cactus Flower, for which she received an Oscar, Goldie Hawn continued to rise as a movie star through the next decade. But her second movie in a major role, There’s a Girl in My Soup, wasn’t as big a hit as her initial explosion into stardom and could have been labeled a disappointing follow-up in comparison. Now Hawn is the co-star of Snatched, a comedy primarily set up as a vehicle for Amy Schumer, and similarly it’s had an inferior showing for the younger talent, especially when looked at in the wake of her initial breakout success with her own TV series, Inside Amy Schumer, and the hit 2015 movie she wrote and starred in, Trainwreck.
Snatched opened over the weekend to the tune of $20M ($2M above estimation), and that’s certainly a good deal short of Trainwreck‘s debut of $30M. By all accounts we could consider the new release a sophomore slump. It’s also worth pointing out, though, that in addition to the distinction of coming out ahead of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ($15M), the movie had the best opening for a comedy this year (not counting animated features or the funny Marvel blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2). That’s sad news for the genre as much as it’s good news for Snatched, and it’s not exactly a triumph for a movie that cost too much at $42M, but it is nevertheless better than the mid-teens expectations of many a box office pundit.
Why the opening numbers of Snatched seem more of an issue than is probably the case is that Schumer hasn’t been having the best year in general. Her recent Netflix stand-up special received harsh reviews from professionals and subscribers alike, and she’s continued to be the subject of joke-theft accusations. On top of her legitimate problems with quality and reputation in her work that could have fans and media no longer celebrating her as the next big thing (as we all did two years ago), she also faces ongoing scrutiny from conservative press because of her political statements and from the corner of humanity (mostly on the internet) uncomfortable with her work and status as a feminist icon. Combine all this with the recent news that she dropped out of her most mainstream role yet, as the title character of a Barbie movie, and viewing her as a has-been is really easy to do right now.
Even if she were on a low point at the moment, we can’t go so far as to say goodbye to Schumer and her career any more than the industry is going to punish King Arthur helmer Guy Ritchie in any way for directing the first huge flop of the summer. Schumer may never repeat the peak levels of viral relevance she had with the third season of her show and with her ultimately unfulfilled Oscar buzz for her first movie script (it was nominated for a WGA Award, and she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance). She may have miscalculated the appeal of her character in Snatched (which like Trainwreck was under the supervision of a Freaks and Geeks vet — this time producer Paul Feig), but that’s an easy mistake.
And she does have a few movies on the horizon to look forward to, in part due to her involvement. First is Thank You for Your Service, due in late October. The PTSD-focused drama also stars Miles Teller and Hayley Bennett and is the directorial debut of Jason Hall and his screenwriting follow-up to his Oscar-nominated American Sniper. And it’s worth noting that Schumer donated her salary for the movie to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. She’s also been cast in Rebecca Miller’s She Came to Me along with Steve Carell and Nicole Kidman. That and another vehicle, I Feel Pretty, the feature directorial debut from Mean Moms writers Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, are currently in pre-production. And we’ll hopefully one day see the result of her BFF writing partnership with Jennifer Lawrence.
I expect that most responses to the box office for Snatched will be negative, with any notes on the final gross being better than both expected and initially estimated being chalked up to lack of other relevant choices for Mother’s Day moviegoing. And I await the think pieces on how Schumer is out of fashion. These are not totally unfounded takes, though we rarely see them so soon in a star’s career as we tend to with women. And they’ll be premature. We might not truly be in the era of Schumer, as we once thought, yet there’s no denying she captured our hearts and minds and funny bones with one movie and could certainly do so again. Maybe she needs to take some time and write another script and maybe she should re-team with Judd Apatow for it.
In other box office news in need of attention, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($63M) is still doing much better than the first movie and will reach a billion dollars much quicker globally, in part because it opened earlier in many of the big markets. As for King Arthur, its bombing will likely have no effect on Disney in either of the two ways it should. On the one hand, Ritchie is still helming their live-action remake of Aladdin, and no matter what happens, that will be a humongous hit. On the other hand, while King Arthur‘s dismal opening should make all of Hollywood stay away from the Round Table for awhile, if there’s one thing that could be the exception it’s Disney’s inevitable live-action remake of The Sword in the Stone.