So why the meager Booksmart business? You can call it a female reboot of Superbad if you want, but it has its own story, theme and attitude. It’s very well directed by Olivia Wilde, and it doesn’t just go through the motions. It delivers what seemed to me like an authentic, connected, well-crafted portrait of Los Angeles teen culture. Is it as good as Superbad? I think it comes reasonably close. Does it offer the same kind of zeitgeist-capture that Risky Business or American Graffiti managed in their eras? In a way it does.
Deadline‘s Anthony D’Alessandro: “We can’t ignore the small start of UA/Annapurna’s Booksmart, which is bound to see $7.8M over four days. The movie looked like a female Superbad, but more indie. Great reviews and solid exits, but no one is taking the time out over the holiday weekend to see it. Saturday’s $2.1M ticket sales were down 16% from Friday. Smart, R-rated, critically acclaimed teenage girl pics remain a tough sub-genre. Booksmart‘s bests plays were in big cities on the coast, especially in the west.”
Why has it underperformed? Is it because audiences generally prefer to watch guys perform this kind of rambunctious material? Or is it…what, the lesbian angle or something? (A possible factor outside the big cities, especially in the middle of the country.) Booksmart was supposed to be the film that would finally deliver serious coin to Annapurna, which needs a hit. I was suspicious of the ecstatic SXSW reviews, but this was an exception to the rule.