SCREEN WRITER

Ev­ery­thing you know is wrong, writes Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION -

Film crit­ics don’t re­ally savour be­ing es­tranged from pub­lic opin­ion. We think it would be ab­so­lutely lovely if ev­ery film that re­ceived five stars went on to gut the box of­fice like a freshly caught trout. Just look how we en­joyed slavering over the re­cent Tom Cruise epic Edge of To­mor­row. Fi­nally, the weary pub­lic would flock to see a film that re­view­ers felt con­fi­dent in rec­om­mend­ing as the best of the week.

It didn’t work out that way. Let’s not get too deep into the fig­ures. Suf­fice to say that this is one place in which $142 mil­lion – the pic­ture’s tak­ings af­ter one week – is not a very large sum of money. Put it this way: in both the UK and the US, Edge opened in third place, be­hind films (X-Men: Days of Fu­ture Past and Malef­i­cent, re­spec­tively) that were on their sec­ond week of re­lease.

For the past week, film pun­dits have been try­ing to make sense of it all. Edge of To­mor­row’s rel­a­tive fail­ure did not come as a to­tal sur­prise. Hav­ing car­ried out its usual sur­veys, the stu­dio was pre­dict­ing a mod­est open­ing, but this was be­fore those ec­static re­views emerged. Never mind the snooty old-school crit­ics writ­ing un­read rubbish on dead trees. Once so­cial net­works be­gan chim­ing the good news, Edge of To­mor­row would surge in the pub­lic’s con­scious­ness and con­quer all be­fore it.

Oh, dear. Come Fri­day there the au­di­ence were not. Come Satur­day there they weren’t again. Come Sun­day, all screen­ings in the Enor­mo­plex had been re­placed with un­spool­ings of hit weepie The Fault in Our Stars.

The vast ar­ray of ex­cuses of­fered for Edge of To­mor­row’s fail­ure clarifies noth­ing so much as the fact that no­body has any idea what they are talk­ing about. Yes, the film had a mo­ronic trailer that – un­like the su­pe­rior promo for the in­fe­rior Godzilla – failed to get across the clever cen­tral high con­cept. True, the de­mo­graph­ics skewed to­wards the male in an era when, as demon­strated by Malef­i­cent and The Fault in Our Stars, women are as­sert­ing greater power at the ticket win­dow. We know that, notwith­stand­ing the suc­cess of Star Wars and Avatar, sci-fi plays, for most of the year, to a niche mar­ket.

Then there’s the Tom Cruise fac­tor. He’s still (ahem) huge in Asia, but he’s never been (ahem) quite so big in An­glo­phone ter­ri­to­ries since that in­ci­dent on Oprah’s couch. Maybe, he’s now a li­a­bil­ity.

Here’s the thing. The last item aside, all these un­cer­tain­ties could have been di­rected at the last Transformers film. Yet that pic­ture made more than a bil­lion dol­lars, and the next episode, due here in July, seems cer­tain to build on that achieve­ment.

Is Tom Cruise now such a li­a­bil­ity that his mere ab­sence boosts a film’s prospects? Does a film pros­per bet­ter with poor re­views? Ev­ery­thing you know is wrong. Up is down. Right is wrong. Bad is good.

What’s the bloody point?

dclarke@irish­times.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.