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Audiences reject Mel Gibson as 'The Beaver' flops

Beaver It appears that Mel Gibson, after well-publicized incidents in which he’s made sexist and anti-Semitic comments, may be losing his clout with moviegoers. The actor's latest film, "The Beaver," was released in 22 theaters this weekend and flopped.

The film grossed $104,000 for a paltry per-theater average of $4,745, according to an estimate from distributor Summit Entertainment. The movie came out after a year in which Gibson's stock with the public already  had been badly damaged. His reputation, hurt by a drunken anti-Semitic rant in 2006, worsened last summer when recordings surfaced of the actor apparently making abusive remarks to ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva over the telephone.

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In Hollywood, it's likely that many will claim "The Beaver's" poor performance means Gibson's acting career is over. But Richie Fay, president of domestic distribution for Summit, said the film's weak debut had more to do with its limited appeal than Gibson's behavior.

“I don’t think this is as much a repudiation of Mel and his personal life as it is about a film with difficult subject matter,” he said. “It’s not the type of role that people would gravitate to or expect him to be in.”

In the film, which was directed by and costars Jodie Foster, Gibson plays a depressed man whose only solace comes in communicating with a beaver puppet. The movie has so far been received well on the festival circuit and has garnered decent critical reviews.

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Still, Summit struggled to choose a release date for the film, pushing its opening from March to May. The movie will expand to about 30 theaters next weekend. It had been slated to go into wide release on May 20, but Fay said the movie would now most likely have a "limited art-house run."

“As it turns out, I think the film is more of an art-house specialty kind of movie than a broader commercial film,” he said. “The subject matter is a hard sell even though it’s got a commercial actor in it like Mel Gibson. I don’t know whether it’s going to transcend that art-house audience.”

If the film fails to attract to a wider audience, it will probably be a money loser for its financiers. "The Beaver" cost Summit and partners Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi $21 million to produce, though some of that was defrayed with sales to foreign distributors.

-- Amy Kaufman


Review: "The Beaver"

Jodie Foster is bullish on "The Beaver"

Photo: Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson star in "The Beaver." Credit: Summit Entertainment

Comments () | Archives (61)

This film played nowhere near me during its limited release, but I am planning on seeing it on May 20 when it has a wider distribution.

Shame on you, Amy, and shame on the LATimes for wielding your transparent "axe to grind". You guys are so transparent.

Mel -- it's over, mate. You had a good run, but your face, career and reputation are in ruins. Time to retire to the Outback and finish drinking yourself into oblivion.

No need to worry. There will be a Road Warrior sequel next year with the "Beav".

I have been waiting for 2 months for The Beaver to be released. Imagine my HUGE disappointment to see it was only out in the "major markets". I'd rather buy the DVD than go into San Francisco to see the film.

It looks like the audience has voted with their feet on this one. Mel has done a sterling job of alienating a large portion of moviegoers-let's start with women, Jewish and gay people. I saw the trailer for this one and found it comical and could hear the snickers in the crowds. And let's not even mention the title. Jodi Foster did yeoman's work promoting the film and defending Mel, but I'm not sure this ship could have been saved from sinking. Did you hear those tapes? I still have a bad taste in my mouth from them. Nasty. Sounds like it will be a film for the netflix streaming crowd.

It is a terrible title - especially coming from a closet thespian like Jodie

How could anyone possibly make this about poor old Mel? It is obvious as the hair up your nose that this is the goofiest movie idea ever. I have only seen the trailer, but the unintentionally funny meter must hit 11 on this one. The actors should all get Oscar nominations just for being able to keep a straight face. Did none of the insiders go outside for 5 seconds to see how this would play in the real world? Surely, they should have cast Leslie Nielsen in the lead role (ok, too late) and had him play it straight. "Hey, nice beaver" etc. etc. Or had Gibson wear Kermit on his fist. Or titled it "What Beavers Want", or "The Passion of the ...". Alright, alright. Sheesh.

A near $5,000 per theater take is not a flop. Anyone with an inkling of the movie industry knows this. If the film opened wide, say in 3,000 theaters, and averaged $5K per theater, the take would have been a respectable $15 million for a small-budgeted film. Characterizing "The Beaver" as a flop is a smear by Kaufman. N0where else have I read the movie characterized as a flop.

This was a damn good movie. The media's just trying to sink it (before it even comes out) because it has Mel Gibson in it.

It's really weird how out for him they are. Seems like the guys a had a tough run and may have his own demons, but so far he's still way ahead of Hollywood "heroes" Sheen and Polanski. I think it's pretty clear they're out to keep him down and out. It's just.............................. weird.

This is a good movie and the media already trying to do it in.

We are not asked to pass judgement on our fellow man when standing in line at the box office are we? We should be ashamed of ourselves for condemning an individual who was in an obvious personal crisis. His behaviour was deplorable, however, it was of no consequence to you or me. See 'The Beaver', don't see 'The Beaver', like blinking at the wrong time during 'Basic Instinct'. It's just another movie on the circuit, so let's not prove ourselves to be media influenced, judgemental, ignoramuses when deciding wether or not to see it.

MiDei Pa'Am

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