Clint's 'Flags': When 'Oscar!' is the nightmare scenario...

92245__clint_lWhat studio wouldn’t be thrilled to have an Oscar contender on its hands?

Paramount. The question wasn’t rhetorical. The troubled ‘Mount finds itself in a dilemma: an expensive film from a major director opens to prestige reviews, but sub-Prestige box office. What to do? Well, there’s nothing to do but ride it out and ready your pocketbook for a long, hard Oscar slog. And we all know how much those long, hard slogs cost.

Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers garnered near-Private Ryanous raptures from critics. Clint, WWII, sterling reviews — ya gotta Oscar-campaign for that, especially when your studio’s under new management and the scrutiny that accompanies it. And yet, that new management was brought in precisely because the studio was losing money. And running a multimillion-dollar Oscar campaign for a film that may well top out under $20 million — wow.

addCredit(“Clint Eastwood: Merie W. Wallace”)

On the other hand, would you want to be the intern dispatched to Eastwood’s fearsome Carmel keep to deliver the bad news? "Uh, Mr. Eastwood?"

"Yep."

"So, uh, Brad Grey sent me to tell you he’s not going to bankroll–"

"Braveheart it."

"Wh-what?"

"Braveheart it. You people did it before, now do it again."

"That was a long time ago, Mister Eastwood. Now we mostly just have a ‘private investigator’ break the other Oscar contenders’ kneecaps. And we don’t even have the budget for that anymore, not with the money we spend on perimeter Cruise deterrence. He really is that agile, you know. Hops the electrified razor-wire like it’s nothing–"

"This sketch is going nowhere!" [sound of Eastwood eating intern and ending sketch, mercifully]

Will the Flags Oscar saga end just as clumsily? Only time and Clintillions of dollars will tell.


Comments (16 total) Add your comment
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  • Mr. Show

    The Oscars supposedly award the best film of the year, and the fact that studios need to promote their flicks in order to achieve that says a lot about how worthless that little statue has become.

  • Sally

    Hmm…how much did FOOF cost? According to BOMJ it cost $90M, now it hasn’t made $20M – yet, so it still has time to at least break even; right? I think it’s too soon to write it off. It’s not a movie I’m planning to see. I did plan to see M$B because of the storyline and the good buzz, but I haven’t heard much about FOOF. And honestly, war movies don’t get me to the movies, I normally wait for them to come out on video.

  • Noel Murray

    “Near-Private Ryanous raptures?” I don’t know about that, Scott. I’ve read as many middling reviews as raves. Myself, I thought it had about 45 minutes of greatness in it, ground down by repetition and a muddled political point. (In short: War is hell. But necessary. But hell.)
    Also, though it underperformed opening weekend, it *is* playing on fewer screens than the movies that beat it, and I imagine it’ll get past 20 million easily — though nowhere near 90.

  • Howard

    Opened to rave reviews – except from EW, who gave it a B-.

  • Stu Arbury

    Mystic River debuts with 10, Million Dollar Baby with 12, Flags with 10. Why is Flags a disaster? Clint makes old fashioned movies for older moviegoers. There’s Harry Potter fans who go the first night dressed up, and there’s Clint fans who will come gradually for months. I havn’t seen it, my roommate is a huge war buff and he hated it, but I’m still interested.
    Why does the media rush to call a film a hit or a bomb? How is Flags a flop and Prestige a hit when 4 million seperates them? I thought Prestige would win the weekend, its a more exciting friday night kind of movie.
    It reminds me of an article in EW called “How the media failed United 93.” The media is failing flags right now! Casual fans are walking around saying “you hear about Clint’s bomb?” Its been 4 days!

  • TorontoTom

    Oh, just give out the Best Picture Oscar to Clint now. Movies like his win (even if they don’t deserve it) so that movies like Brokeback Moutain (which most ceratinly deserved to win!)don’t…

  • Dave

    Flags of our Fathers is still on my must-see list for the near future (including Running with Scissors, Stranger than Fiction, and Borat), so the weak box office numbers won’t scare me off. Plus Flags will, in all likelihood, land Oscar nods for Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay, so I don’t think Clint has anything to worry about. And, while completely off topic, I totally agree with the point about Brokeback! The gays wuz robbed!

  • mike

    I don’t think the problem is that FOOF lagged behind Prestiege, but the Departed in its third week. Oscar movies from October are few. The Departed is stting on 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and has legs at the Box Office.

  • Miles

    I agree with Mr. Show, campaigns should not be taking into consideration, but the scope of the film and its quality. That being said.
    I don’t think that the studio should spend that much money on FLAGS. i think it has the pedegree, Director, and writer to garner a few oscar nominations. But I don’t think, as well received as it was that it will be the BEST MOVIE of the YEAR when all the other movies have come out.
    I actually liked the movie a lot, but not loved the movie. I thought it was a beautifully shot film, but was not quite taken in by the characters… there was something missing for me that would stop me from declairing the Best film of the year.

  • alex

    His prior two films had similar opening box, so stop being so quick to declare a film’s momentum dead. At least wait to see what it does this weekend before you create a doomsday scenario. C’mon!

  • mark in nyc

    I’m not in the industry or anything, but from the death of the Trek franchise, droping their deal with Tom Cruise, the new management, the desperate bid for money by selling off the Trek sets….it sounds like Paramount is going down faster then the titanic.

  • Amy

    The target audience for this movie is not comprised of people who will break their necks to see a movie on opening weekend. I saw FOOF this weekend at a matinee showing and the theater was PACKED so I was surprised to hear the numbers. Great movie – heartfelt, well thought out, and greatly acted and filmed. It should do well at Oscar time – should being the key word.

  • Ceballos

    Even though I enjoy a good Tom Cruise joke as much as the next person, I have to say sneaking him into this item was a bit…forced.

  • BOXOFFICEKING

    SCOTT BROWN YOU SHOULDNT SAY FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS ” MAY WELL MAKE UNDER $20 MILLION ” IF YOU CLEARLY HAVE NO IDEA HOW THE BOX OFFICE WORKS.
    FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS OPENED WITH $10.2 MILLION. IT’S JUST ABOUT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THIS MOVIE TO ONLY MAKE 10 MILLION MORE FROM HERE, WITH 90% OF AUDIENCES FROM CINEMASCORE GRADING IT EXCELLENT OR VERY GOOD.
    YOU SHOULD CHECK YOUR FACTS BEFORE WRITING FALTY STATEMENTS SIMPLY FOR THE EFFECT OF YOUR LAME POINT (FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS BEING AN ULTIMATE DISSAPPOINTMENT AFTER 3 DAYS OF RELEASE.)
    I HOPE YOU DIGNIFY ME WITH A RESPONSE SCOTT, AS I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR WHAT YOU COULD POSSIBLY SAY

  • jane

    Hey BOXOFFICEKING,
    Shhhh! Somehow you made my ears hurt. Looks like someone needs a nap.

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