Let’s be clear: I always thought Harvey Weinstein was a bastard. And now he’s a convicted rapist where he belongs… Dying in prison and in disgrace. So bear with me here…
The great #MeToo movie at the Oscars She says aired widely over the weekend and quickly plunged into one of the biggest flops of the year. With a budget of $32 million and at least as much spent on promotion, She says just opened in 2,022 theaters for a humiliating $2.25 million.
Why would this movie fail? After all, it has received rave reviews and all manner of free publicity in corporate media and touches on the subject of the last five years – the #MeToo scandal, in particular Harvey Weinstein.
She says talks about the real lives of two women New York Times journalists who won a Pulitzer for uncovering the truth that brought down Weinstein and started the #MeToo revolution.
In 2015, a similar film, Projector, grossed nearly $100 million.
In 1976, All the President’s Men grossed $71 million in 1976 dollars, equivalent to $425 million today.
So what happened? Less than a quarter of a million people bothered to see She says. How is that possible in a country of 330 million people, including millions of unhappy, bitter, single, affluent, overeducated white women?
Let’s start with the trailer…
This trailer is what happens when you run out of movie stars.
Both of these ladies may be good actresses, but they’re not exactly charisma machines. Not exactly Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. Not exactly Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis tearing up the road as Thelma and Louise. Not exactly Julie Roberts righting the wrongs as Erin Brockovich.
Imagine Michelle Pfeiffer and Sandra Bullock co-starring in She says 20 years ago. Even I would like to see that.
Then there’s 1) the fact that the trailer gives the whole movie away, 2) the movie feels like homework and nothing close to a cinematic experience, and 3) the whole thing comes across as a badly shot TV movie and faded.
Finally, according to reviews I trust, She says is the opposite of an exposition. It is in fact a whitewash. Oh sure, Harvey takes a well-deserved beating, but the countless elite media and Hollywood types who knew this was happening and said nothing get a full pass. Left institutions of journalism and entertainment must be protected!
I know She says is a very, very, very, very important film about a very, very, very, very important subject that we’ve all been wrestled with for five very, very, very, very long years, but you can’t make us pay to go to see him.
The other thing is this bitter irony…
I want to know who could have become She says in a $100 million movie?
He was the genius of Weinstein.
He knew how to drive a diary-driven adult film to box office and Oscar glory.
Weinstein definitely wouldn’t have been dumb enough to open She says in 2,200 theaters when a slow rollout might have offered free word-of-mouth publicity and a sense of anticipation.
Which brings me to my larger point: the #MeToo brain drain.
Men like Harvey Weinstein deserve all the shame and jail time they receive. But we all know what’s going on here: #MeToo McCarthyism. We have all seen countless innocent men like Johnny Depp, Frank Langella and Bill Murray destroyed based on lies or hysterical overreaction. We’ve seen over-correction in the Witch Hunt destroy one career after another. Where an apology should have been accepted, a career was ruined. Where a short suspension or demotion should have been the punishment, a career was ruined.
No due process.
No day in court.
And now She says is about to lose $50 million.
Making films is difficult. Making good films is almost impossible. Producing good movies that hit the box office is something close to a miracle.
As the right-thinking #MeToo Gestapo roams the industry indiscriminately brandishing a scythe, no one is thinking about the next thing: who’s going to replace this guy? Who has his talent, his know-how, his institutional knowledge? Who has the same magic and the same spark, this secret sauce that made him what he is?
Sorry, you can’t just put a vagina in that chair and call it a day.
Ask LucasFilm about it.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook page here.