The second week of May has been a place where Warner Brothers has released their fumbles. The second weekend of May has launched Dark Shadows, Speed Racer, and Poseidon, though they did have some luck with 2004′s Troy. Other studios have had more luck with the date (2009′s Star Trek and 2011′s Bridesmaids). What does that say about The Great Gatsby? Absolutely nothing, even though it is another fumble (at least domestically).
Look, Baz Luhrmann‘s film was supposed to come out for the Oscar season last year, and though there are films that have come out in the summer that have won awards (and earlier, like films that have premiered in January at Sundance), its best hope for any prizes this year are technical nods. By moving it’s a slightly troubled production, and the name power here would mean more if there were some prizes on the near horizon. If there was a campaign around Leonardo DiCaprio‘s performance in the film, it’s possible he would have been nominated last year, though it’s hard to imagine he would have topped Daniel Day-Lewis, but having eight nominations while still playing could have gotten the film to a hundred million domestic.
Currently they are coming out in the summer season, and it’s possible that they’ll get to sixty or seventy million. But the production cost way more than that, and The Great Gatsby is one of the great American books, which means it’s not going to play as well in — say — China or Russia.
The other problem that’s self-evident is that this was a terrible idea on paper, and though execution may be viewed differently, not only is this a misguided film to throw money at from a blockbuster perspective, it’s the sort of thing that the critical community is not going to give an easy pass to as they might something like Iron Man 3. Regardless if the critic has read the book or not, this requires a more serious approach (from the critic), which often leads to harder reviews. And you sort of need critics on a picture like this. It’s also systemic of how a nation – who may or may not have read this book in college or high/middle school – feels about the book.
I think if the marketing had been able to sell a simple aspect of the story, things might have different. If they could sell Daisy and Gatsby’s love. But that’s not the book. And that’s the problem. But everything bad or perceived to be bad about this film… on some level this could have been a Titanic. That’s what they were thinking.
So, let’s get some numbers up:
Iron Man 3 - $80.3 Million
The Great Gatsby - $26.5 Million
That could be on the low end of things for Gatsby, and those numbers would be a disaster for Warner Brothers, who may or may not have written this film off a long time ago. At least they have Man of Steel and Pacific Rim.
What are you going to watch this weekend?