Is the Hollywood party over for Will Ferrell? His new movie The House opened to a pathetic $8.7 million last weekend, marking the lowest opening of his career by a wide margin; even the underwhelming political satire The Campaign managed $26 million back in 2013.
For a movie about gambling – in The House Ferrell and Amy Poehler play square, middle-class parents who open a casino to pay for their daughter’s college education – it’s all rather embarrassing: The House lost big time.
To pile up the woes for Ferrell and Warners Bros, who rolled the dice to the tune of $40 million on the movie, not including the marketing spend, the movie is a bust overseas where broad US comedies ever don’t play well.
Unlike other underperforming summer studio franchises, like Pirates Of The Caribbean and Transformers, it won’t be a case of China to the rescue. Nobody wants Ferrell and Poehler in the house.
With the influence of aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes growing by the weekend, Warners didn’t show The House to critics knowing the movie was a dud. Sure enough, when reviewers did catch it, they weren’t impressed. It boasts a 19% rating, down there with other summer stinkers like The Mummy (15%) and Transformers (also 15%).
“An outstanding candidate for the worst film of the year” wrote The Times, in one of the more enthusiastic reviews.
It didn’t help that The House was released the same weekend as Edgar Wright’s lauded comedy-heist-thriller Baby Driver, a movie as bold and wildly inventive as The House is stale and unfunny.
Leaving a seen-it-all-before pile up of crass jokes about middle aged folk behaving badly in its wake, Baby Driver sped off with $21 million over the weekend, for an opening total of $30 million.
The commercial fate of Ferrell’s previous movies Get Hard and Anchorman 2 also gave him nothing to smile about. In fact the only buzz Ferrell has generated in recent times has been the fiasco over the cancellation of his Alzheimers comedy movie about Ronald Reagan.
We’ve been here before with Ferrell- his commercial clout came into question when 2008 basketball comedy Semi-Pro flopped in the wake of the success of his other sports comedies Blades of Glory and Talladega Nights.
If the upcoming Daddy’s Home 2 coming up in which he and Mark Wahlberg are joined by Mel Gibson and John Lithgow as competitive granddads tanks, then it’s not just The House . After all the 2015 original did $150 million domestic and $242 million worldwide and Paramount are confident of a big play over the Christmas holidays.
Yet however well it does, the star needs to reinvent his imbecilic adult schtick fast. The low point in The House comes when his dim-bulb dad accidentally hacks off the body parts of a cheating gambler, thereby becoming suburban enforcer ‘The Butcher’.
It’s the kind of extreme, gross-out ‘humor’ audiences have grown weary of. Sony came a similar cropper last month with Scarlett Johansson-starrer Rough Night about a wild weekend which goes wrong when….the male stripper dies. Ha ha.
Audiences liked the movie until the buff dude smashes his skull on the edge of the fireplace.
The real corpse in the room is the party movie itself. Since The Hangover in 2009 studios have fallen over themselves to assemble a bunch of movie stars and show them having a crazy time. Until recently, audiences seemed to share in the ‘fun’.
The House is written by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien who scored a big hit with 2014’s Neighbors in which Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne’s struggling new parents find themselves living next to a fraternity house.
Last year’s sequel in which, yep – Rogen and Byrne now live next to a sorority house – did a third of the business in the US while Jason Bateman starrer Office Christmas Party felt like stale leftovers.
Amy Poehler was presumably hoping The House would replicate the success of 2015’s Sisters in which she and Tina Fey throw one last house party at the family home. It earned a surprisingly decent $87 million domestic.
Like a partygoer who outstays their welcome amd ignores the host’s subtle hint to leave, it’s time for Hollywood to take the hint.
Watching a bunch of over-paid movie stars tearing the house down is no one’s idea of fun any more. Even if the man-child in question is Will Ferrell.