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November 28, 2022

She Said, a Movie About Two New York Times "Journalists" Uncovering the Harvey Weinstein Story, Becomes One of the Biggest Box Office Flops In History

Industry mouthpiece Variety shrieks -- what is going on? Why won't the public watch our stupid crap any longer?

Now, let me point something out: Chris Gore of Film Threat, who is One of Us, says this is actually a good movie which is not super-woke and does not portray all men as bad. The movie, I think he said, goes out of its way to portray male characters, with the singular exception of Harvey Weinstein, in a positive light.

That makes the bombing of this movie all the more delicious, honestly.

Because it means the public is just broadly rejecting the entire genre of self-congratulatory woke filmmaking -- even if the movie in question isn't all that woke.

Take "She Said," a sturdily made look at the pair of crusading New York Times journalists who helped expose Harvey Weinstein's decades of sexual harassment and assault. The film earned strong reviews and awards buzz, but the Universal Pictures release bombed last weekend, opening to a dismal $2.2 million from 2,022 theaters. That ranks as one of the worst results for a major studio release in history.

The public now knows that "strong reviews" mean nothing, and that reviewers are all shills, especially for woke content.

Part of the problem, observers say, is that the movie's searing look at an abuse of power may not have been what audiences were hoping to see at a time when the headlines are -- let's be honest -- pretty bleak. From Ukraine to the economy, there's a lot to be upset about.

"It's a tough sell," says Shawn Robbins, chief analyst with Boxoffice Pro. "People are looking for escapism right now. Even adult audiences are looking for something that takes them away from reality."

"She Said" has a lot of company when it comes to well-reviewed movies that have collapsed on the shoals of audience indifference. One by one, this year's crop of Oscar contenders have flopped or, at best, under-performed. There's "Tár," a drama about sexual harassment in the world of classical music that has eked out $4.9 million in seven weeks of release; "Armageddon Time," a coming-of-age film that has only managed to generate $1.8 million after a month in theaters; and "Triangle of Sadness," a satirical look at the one-percent that has crawled to a $3.8 million gross since opening in mid-October. "The Banshees of Inisherin" and "Till" have done slightly better, earning $7.1 million and $8.5 million, respectively, but their results aren't exactly igniting the box office; they both will likely struggle to turn a profit in their theatrical runs.

"Across the board, it's a scary time for prestige films," says Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. "We may be witnessing a sea change in cinema. Ultimately, audiences decide what gets made and right now audiences aren't choosing to watch these films in theaters."

Privately, studio executives point to a number of culprits. They say this year's awards films are too arty, too depressing, too lacking in A-list talent to convince crowds to show up. And they note that there have been success stories earlier in the year -- notably "Elvis," which was aimed at adults and earned an impressive $286 million globally, and "Everything Everywhere All at Once," a multiverse head trip that has racked up $103 million worldwide while being perceived as artistically bold. But those films didn't have to compete with a glut of other prestige fare, which could be further fracturing an already shrinking audience base, one that may be wary of hitting up cinemas during COVID.

Variety fears the end of the so-called "prestige" film:


So unless movies like "She Said" start performing better at the box office, a whole sector of the theatrical movie business may be imperiled. Something needs to change fast.

I can think of several reasons this particular film would bomb:

1. The media has put #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein in our faces so much we don't need to know anything more about the story. I mean, honestly. Apart from St. George Floyd and the Accountability Arsons of 2020, I can't think of any story which has gotten more media attention already.

Do we really need more about this? No, not really, we don't.

2. The movie fails to delve into the one big juicy aspect of the story that does legitimately need further exposure -- Hollywood's knowing complicity. I think Chris Gore does say that the movie is "not a whitewash" of Hollywood's complicity -- it gets mentioned -- but the movie obviously doesn't focus on Hollywood's enabling and covering-up for Weinstein. That would be new matter that could interest the public, but instead we get the same-old same old. We already know all this.

3. The public no longer accepts "journalists" as heroes. I've always thought that Hollywood loves making movies about "journalists" because they see reporters as "the actors of publishing." You know what I mean? Reporters are glib manipulators; so are actors. I think actors look at reporters and think, "I could do that, if I were capable of cracking 400 on my SAT Verbal. I wear make-up. I read a script while on camera."

And also, reporters share actors' politics -- they've long been communist sympathizers.

So Hollywood has long put reporters forward as heroes, and the public has largely played along and accepted them as heroes.

But the public now holds newspaper and television reporters in the lowest esteem in history, according to Gallup, with only 16% and 11% of the public giving newspaper and television reporters, respectively, a great deal of approval.

So maybe the public just finds the concept of the Hero Reporter to be a science-fantasy premise they can no longer suspend their collective disbelief for.

4.Harvey Weinstein is a monster, but the #MeToo movement that he spawned went far too far and became, itself, a monster. #MeToo was -- is -- an aggressive opportunistic cancer on society that was started by the carcinogen of Harvey Weinstein. Harvey Weinstein did a great amount of damage to 20 or so women, but #MeToo has done damage on a society-wide scale. It's hard to separate the good of bringing Harvey Weinstein to justice from the evil of the #MeToo movement itself, and maybe the public just isn't in the mood to attempt to parse out one from the other.

I wish I could remember who said this -- I think it might have been Nerdrotic, Gary Boechler -- but, ironically enough, it might be #TimesUp for #MeToo, and that might have doomed She Said.

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posted by Ace at 04:06 PM

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