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Owen Wilson's 'Big Year' joins flock of grounded geese

October 19, 2011 |  6:18 pm

The cratering of "The Big Year" this weekend--despite starring the likes of Owen Wilson and Jack Black, it barely took in $3 million--was the latest example of a movie so deeply unpopular you got the sense some people might have paid to not see it.

Unless the Fox film can pick up some momentum, it will earn the distinction of the second-lowest-grossing 2011 wide release (that is, a movie that goes out to thousands of theaters on its opening weekend) to date. (No, it can't even win that.) Top honors for the biggest flop? They go to “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star” the porn-star comedy co-written by Adam Sandler. The Sony film eked out just $2.3 million over the entire length of its run.

But if Wilson or Sandler are feeling cold or alone, they shouldn't. Some very high-profile movies have been, well, for the birds this year at the U.S. box office.  Eight wide releases have failed to notch even $12 million, which would hardly be anything to write home about in its own right. (Last year, only three films failed to make that grade.)

The numbers fit with a larger trend in Hollywood, which has seen a 4% drop in overall domestic box-office revenues this year.

Besides "Year" and "Bucky," what else has had the luck of a wounded pigeon? The bronze medal goes to "Take Me Home Tonight," the Topher Grace comedy that sat on the shelf since the actor was somewhere in high school. The Relativity-released movie took in just $6.9 million.

With "I Don't Know How she Does It," Sarah Jessica Parker wanted to make a a movie about conflict between work and family. She might gotten better treatment from the latter: Her film, which is winding down its theatrical run, has taken in only $9.5 million since the Weinstein Co. released it last month.

And Disney's bet that teenage girls would want to see "Prom" proved about as realistic as the nerd getting asked out by the football captain: The pic managed just $10.1 million last spring.

(Rounding out the bottom 10, in order, are Weinstein's "Hoodwinked Too," Screen Gems' "Straw Dogs," Summit's "Drive Angry 3-D," Lionsgate's "Warrior" and Focus Features' "One Day." None has grossed more than $14 million. Obviously this measures popularity, not profitability; some films that grossed more are bigger money-losers, since they cost more to make.)

What's interesting is that with the exception of "Warrior," none of these duds cracked the 50% mark on Rotten Tomatoes. So those who say critics don't matter, well, apparently they still do get it right a lot of the time.

Beyond that, there isn't any hard-and-fast pattern that emerges from this list. In fact, what's striking is just how diverse it is. There's a romantic comedy, a psychological thriller, a broad comedy, a romantic drama, an action movie, a dramatic comedy, an animated movie, a sports drama and a pair of coming-of-age comedies. Let no one say that Hollywood isn't eclectic.


Real Steel shimmies past Footloose for No. 1

The Big Year: Movie review

-- Steven Zeitchik and Amy Kaufman



Photo: "The Big Year." Credit: 20th Century Fox

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