There are two forehead-slapping statements in a 6.28 boxoffice analysis piece by Variety‘s Brent Lang. Titled “Ted 2 Fumbles: Are R-Rated Comedies in a Funk?,” the piece seeks to understand or at least ask why Seth MacFarlane‘s decidedly unfunny, splooge-soaked sequel opened with a lousy $32.9 million…horrors! Lang’s basic takeaway is that “raunch isn’t selling like it once did.”
Forehead slapper #1: “The difficulty is that unlike other genres, novelty is a key selling point for comedies. That makes them unusually execution dependent.”
Wells reaction: May God protect Hollywood executives and their shitty mainstream movie slates from the dreaded, fang-toothed beast known as “execution dependent.” In Lang’s realm, execution is a mosquito that occasionally flies into your ear. Swat it and forget about it. Because in Lang’s realm audiences regard the concept of quality in the same light. They never evaluate comedies by way of the aggregate sites or trailers or even by sniffing the wind…right? Lang and his sources in production and box-office analysis (including the legendary Phil Dergarabedian!) apparently believe that if you put a raunchy comedy on their plate, they’ll eat it up like a starving dog. Or they used to, at least. If there’s one thing that’s absolutely verboten in Lang’s world, it’s the idea that people might not want to see a movie that reputedly sucks.
Forehead-slapper #2: “It’s hard to know why Spy and Ted 2 were such slow starters [because] it’s not clear that quality was a factor.”
Wells reaction: Okay, maybe, if you say so…but could audience interest have anything to do with the fact that Spy is moderately amusing at best and that Ted 2 is pure drainage? Why would a movie that might seem moderately distracting six or eight months from now on Netflix…why would that be a factor about whether or not to pay $15 bills to see it at the Grove?
Conclusion: People are stupid hungry animals who bite on meat when you put it before them. In Lang’s head it goes no deeper than that, at least in a traditional trending sense. And yet for whatever perplexing reason, they’re not wolfing down “raunch” meat like they used to these days, and this is giving Lang and his sources concern.