The opening paragraph of the Chicago Tribune review of this film mentions the awkwardness of releasing a film about a neighborhood watch following the Trayvon Martin shooting. “Timing is everything,” Michael Phillips wrote. (He then ties in the Aurora shooting in the third paragraph. Review the film, ass. You’re not a sociologist, you’re a movie critic.*)
[*Kudos to Roger Ebert in the Sun-Times, by the way, who forgoes all that stuff and just beats on the film for not being very funny.]
Although this is quickly becoming the conventional wisdom, it’s probably not a matter of timing. I think it’s more about how The Watch looks horribly unfunny and doesn’t really have an apparent target audience. Given this, I really doubt real life tragedies are going to much effect the movie’s box office one way or the other. For instance, the film is currently garnering a horrendous 14% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m sorry, when’s a good time for a movie like that?
As for the Martin shooting, that occurred in mid-February. In our culture five months is a current events eternity. On top of that, media coverage of the situation dried up almost overnight several months ago as evidence of nearly universal press malpractice on the coverage mounted.
I’d really think the only reason that anyone at all would connect the event and the film is because commentators keep bringing it up…and I don’t think too many are actually being convinced by them anyway.
However, putting that aside (although all involved with actually having made the film will desperately cling to it as an excuse for their failure), there are plenty of other, more likely reason that the film seems to be heading towards a box office train wreck.
1) Fox has so little faith in the film that they are positively running away from it’s core plot concept in the advertisements. Did you know the film was about a neighborhood watch that finds itself involved in an alien invasion? You sure wouldn’t from watching the commercials. A month ago I saw a commercial that briefly mentioned the alien thing–so briefly, I was like, “Wait, what was that? Aliens? Really?” (My guess is that this represented an extremely half-assed attempts to ‘make something like Attack the Block.)
Since then the commercials don’t mention aliens at all, not even hinting at them. Anyway, anytime the studio that made the film positively attempts to hide what it’s about from the public (see John Carter, late of Mars), well, it’s a bad sign.
2) This is a bad time for what are now our veteran comics. Adam Sandler, for instance, seems to have finally alienated his hardcore audience with atrocious films like Jack & Jill. The Watch features an ‘all-star’ cast of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill (surely his 15 minutes is over, right?). Stiller and Vaughn are getting a bit long in the tooth, and neither is exactly box office dynamite these days, so I’m not sure why they thought they’d appeal in an R-rated film apparently filled with the usual highly sophomoric potty language and scatological humor.Yes, yes, Hangover and Bridemaids. Well, my impression is that people actually liked those movies.
3) It’s opening up the second weekend of The Dark Knight Rises. Either Fox has a LOT of faith in the movie, or nearly none at all. I’m guessing the latter.
I’m sure I could think of more, but frankly this is more time than anyone should spend on yet another disposable movie that nobody will remember a month from now. Let me know when Target Earth or Invisible Invaders comes back to theaters. Those I’d go see.