More or less verbatim from Richard Rushfield’s Ankler piece titled “is Paramount Cursed?”: “[There have been] plenty of Paramount films that, on paper, should’ve been okay. But somehow, something just didn’t go right. Every. Single. Time.
“Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in a glamorous WW2 spy thriller! Sounds great! Reboot The Ring! Monster Trucks that are actually monsters! The kids will love it! A new Ben Hur for the Game of Thrones generation! Scarlett Johansson in a white body suit doing anime! A Martin Scorsese medieval thriller! A new Star Trek! A new Zoolander! A new Jack Reacher! A bawdy Office Christmas Party with every buzzy comedy star on earth! A medium-budget Michael Bay contemporary war thriller! A Meryl Streep Oscar bait film! A Richard Linklater 80’s comedy! A Tina Fey war comedy! And best of all, Dwayne Johnson in an R-rated comic reboot of a universally known TV series!
“What a line-up! How could most of those not catch fire? Or at least…some? One or two? Okay, the last XXX did well in China. [But] when that much goes wrong in that many ways, it’s time to consider that supernatural powers may be at work and perhaps what you need isn’t a new studio chief as much as an exorcist.
Wells interjection: Brad Grey‘s sad, very recent passing requires Rushfield to avoid stating the obvious, which is that the above-described films were all Grey’s.
“I hear from the Paramount lot that a lot of nerves are getting jangly as they wait for the Gianopulos reign to kick in. Lots of high hopes, but still looking for that brilliant, curse-breaking plan to come down.”
“The trades are dissecting — with Paramount’s help — what went wrong with Baywatch,” Rushfield states. “Lots of finger pointing at Rotten Tomatoes and their blasted 19% score. “A recent internal study at Paramount concluded that younger ticket buyers pay close attention to aggregated scores on Rotten Tomatoes,” reports THR.
“Insiders close to both films blame Rotten Tomatoes, with Pirates 5 and Baywatch respectively earning 32% and 19% Rotten. The critic aggregation site is increasingly slowing down the potential business of popcorn movies,” according to a piece by Deadline’s Anthony D’Allesandro and Anita Busch.
“It’s funny how every weekend’s trade post-mortem, after chats with the marketing team, come out to ‘don’t blame the marketing!’ After all, what could they do with a 19?
“While the TV show was an action drama, Paramount and Skydance decided to go in a different direction with the Baywatch movie adaptation, making it a comedy infused with as many F-bombs and penis jokes as brawn and bikinis. In doing so, they hoped to emulate Sony’s wildly successful R-rated comedic adaptation of 21 Jump Street, which earned $201.6 million in spring 2012, followed by $331.3 million for 22 Jump Street in summer 2014.
“So there was no one from the marketing department in the meeting where they [concluded] that a silly 90’s TV show + penis Jokes was a foolproof formula for a monster hit? I wasn’t paying that close attention at the time, but wasn’t the pervy element of Pam Anderson in a bikini at least a slice of the appeal of the show? If you’re going to make a movie based on that but focusing instead on yuks from Zac Efron, why are you doing Baywatch?
“In July we’ll celebrate the two-year anniversary of the last time a Paramount film made over half-a-billion worldwide (i.e., the last Mission Impossible). Just one more year, and another dozen underperforms and the studio will be ready to rebrand itself as an indie label.”