Things are so bad, the 2017 year-to-date box office is trailing behind four of the last five years and barely ahead of the catastrophic year that was 2014.
The news, however, is especially bad for Clooney. Prior to Suburbicon, the director’s 2011 The Ides of March was his worst wide-opening ($10 million) as a director. This $3 million opening is also the worst opening ever (in over 2,000 theaters) for star Matt Damon.
Working against Clooney is his politically divisive personality and his track record. In this age of an ever empowered new media, the Hollywood bubble and mainstream media no longer have the power to con American moviegoers into believing he’s a modern-day Cary Grant and genius auteur. The movies he directs are just not very good. Fans of 2002’s Confession of a Dangerous Mind should be reminded that Clooney did not write that script.
Also working against Suburbicon is its Harveywood problem. Both Clooney and Damon got their start with Harvey Weinstein. Damon’s affiliation with the alleged serial-predator is so strong it is impossible to think of one without the other.
Although both men were close Weinstein colleagues at the height of his power during the golden age of Miramax, their protestations of knowing nothing were widely met with social media skepticism. Damon certainly did not help himself or Suburbicon with his conflicting statements.
As Hollywood journalist Richard Rushfield recently told Jonathan Last of Weekly Standard, “the studios are waking up to the fact that it’s getting harder to wrench people away from their Netflix and into the theaters, and somehow Hollywood seems to be forgetting how to do that.”
As with Colin Kaepernick beginning the NFL’s potential slow death march last year, the Harvey Weinstein story (and related stories of appalling behavior by other Hollywood tyrants) arrives at the worst possible time for the industry that John Nolte dubs “Harveywood.”