a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sometimes Even Big-Name Actors Go Straight To DVD

So I caught up with two movies this week that essentially went straight to DVD; despite some big names in the cast, neither likely played in your local theater.

The first is a movie called Haven, which stars Orlando Bloom and Bill Paxton, which should have been enough to get it a major release. Instead, it had only a token theatrical release (it played in 57 theaters, and made only $142, 483).

Haven is problematic but interesting; there are a lot of things to like about it, though it has some real flaws. The first flaw is the structure; though eventually this is an ensemble tale, for the first half-hour this is largely the tale of Bill Paxton and his teenage daughter, who come to the Cayman Islands because Bill is hiding out from federal agents looking to bust him for some sort of money-laundering thing he is involved in. Unfortunately, they picked the worst characters to focus on early; Paxton isn't given much to do, and though the story weight falls on his daughter (played by BLUE CAR's Agnes Bruckner) she comes across as uninteresting, and the film almost lost me early.

But then, after only a brief glimpse of Orlando Bloom in the opening scene, at the 28 minute mark this suddenly becomes his movie, and the movie finally becomes interesting. Bloom gets to play a character with a little edge to him for once, and though the movie would have benefitted from even more attention to his character and story, suddenly the tale becomes twisty and engrossing.

Writer director Frank E. Flowers has a good feel for suddenly not only expanding his story to encompass a wide range of characters, as well as for giving even minor characters some nice touches that define them in this world. The result still doesn't entirely work, but this wouldn't be a bad rental.

On the other end of the spectrum is Man About Town, starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Romijn, Gina Gershon and others, and it's easily one of the worst movies I've seen in a long, long time. Writer/director Mike Binder has done good work in the past (The Upside of Anger, even Indian Summer) but Man About Town is a bad, bad knockoff of JERRY MAGUIRE, without any of that film's charm, humor, drama or romance.

Binder bounces around from drama to slapstick comedy without doing either well at all; Affleck never comes close to finding a handle on his character, and the result is almost painful to watch. Run, run away.


At 11:28 PM, Blogger Chris (ukscriptwriter) said...

$142,483 on 57 screens scales up to about 2.5 million if you show it 1000.

I don't know how many screens counts as a major release in the States, but that should scale up to reasonable takings shouldn't it?

At 12:47 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Well, that wasn't opening weekend, but the whole run.

And it costs about a million dollars just to strike 1000 prints, doesn't it? I thought they ran about $1000 each.

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

MAT was supposed to be Affleck's comeback, luckily for him Hollywoodland saved him.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Steve Barr said...

Don't forget Havoc, which went straight-to-video despite being the first on-screen nudity of the yummy yummy Anne Hathaway...

At 10:10 PM, Blogger wcmartell said...

HAVEN played in cinemas - played a couple of weeks in Burbank at the AMC. I didn't see it - looked bad from the trailer (and trailers always make movies look better than they really are).

The odds of a film designed for cinemas going to DVD are pretty slim. Most films that premier on DVD were *designed* as DVD originals. DVD makes 3 times more than cinema - and some huge % of that are things that never showed in cinemas at all. Which is why we'll be getting more DVD sequels.

- Bill


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