Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why Battleship was a bad idea

Even before Friday’s news that ‘Battleship’ was sinking with a $9 million opening day, I think most viewers realized the movie was a bad idea.
First off, basing a movie off of a strategy board game is flimsy plot development at best.

To be fair, studios think they can do this because of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’ I’m talking the first movie here, not the follow-up travesties, but I digress.

Anyway, at the time, there was absolutely no one that thought a movie based on a Disney theme park ride had a chance of making it at the box office. The thing is, they cast Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom – so that guaranteed that teenage girls would at least take a peak – and they unleashed a great trailer.

Then, they did the truly unthinkable; they wrote a script that was not only entertaining but engaging. Out of nowhere, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ garnered great reviews, good word of mouth and millions at the box office.

Now everyone thinks they can do it.

The thing is, Pirates was a fluke. You see, it was the exception, not the rule.

Battleship isn’t even a great board game. How were they going to turn that into a movie?

Peter Berg is a talented director, but I have to wonder what drew him to the project.  The casting for the film is a whole other story.

Sure, Liam Neeson and Peter MacNicol have great pedigrees – but they can’t carry the film.

The two male leads are Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard – both considered “hunks” on television. Problem is, neither is really a strong enough actor to anchor a movie. Before I get flamed, they’re both very cute, and they’re decent actors. They’re not great, though, and both are sometimes vacant.

The two female leads are even more troublesome. Rihanna and Brooklyn Decker. Huh, a pop star and a super model – nothing could go wrong there.

All four leads are ridiculously attractive, but none of them have the ability to carry a movie.

When you couple that with an alien premise (and a bad marketing strategy), ‘Battleship’ really never had a chance.

Sure, the movie is being further handicapped by the popularity of ‘The Avengers,’ but the truth is, even if ‘The Avengers’ hadn’t exploded at the box office, ‘Battleship’ was always going to sink.
According to CinemaScore, 66 percent of Friday’s audience was over the age of 25. That makes sense, since board games aren’t really hip with the teenage set these days (even if there is a really cool ‘Battleship’ App available).

That old saying, “timing is everything” is actually quite apt here.

‘Battleship’ cost upwards of $209 million to make. It’s done decent overseas (not great, but not awful). It still needs $75 million domestically to break even. If the movie stays on course and only pulls in $26 million on opening weekend – that number might be out of reach.

Who will Universal and Hasbro Entertainment blame for sinking their summer ship?

What do you think? Was making ‘Battleship’ a good idea?


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