Thursday, April 3, 2008


...opens Friday. Will George Clooney end his box office slump?

Heck, I don't know. On the one hand, it has a good cast, has been massively promoted (including a Super Bowl spot), and has that Titanic-like appeal to men (football!) and women (romance!). John Krasinski seems ideally suited to the task of succeeding Matt Damon (who succeeded Brad Pitt, who succeeded Noah Wyle) as George's I-kid-him-because-I-love-him-surrogate-younger-brother. I'm also a fan of two other people associated with the flick: Rick Reilly, who co-authored the script, and the great Randy Newman.

On the other hand, the public's fascination with George Clooney hasn't translated into ticket sales.

But there is a huge obstacle to this movie's success: what on earth convinced the powers that be that the ideal time to release a football movie was the opening week of baseball season?

As anyone who wastes their time at this site knows, I'm a bit of a football fan. Through December and January I wrote thousands of words on everything from the Brady-Manning rivalry* to coming up with a name for the David Tyree catch. I did a piece examining the experience of every single coach who ever won the Super Bowl. I wrote Peter King satires. I was ecstatic about the Giants winning the Super Bowl. I like football.

[*Isn't it still amazing that some of you, if even momentarily, thought I meant Eli?]

But, you know, it's April. Rogers Hornsby once said he spends the winter staring out the window waiting for Spring. Well, spring is here, baseball has started, and every team in the majors is within 3 games of first place. Is this the time to release a movie about the origins of the National Football League?

I confess to knowing next to nothing about release strategies for major motion pictures. But George's next movie, with the Coen Brothers, is due in September. Maybe that one has Oscar hopes, so it needed to come out during football season.

But I'm guessing Leatherheads will be (choose your own awful football metaphor):

  • sacked on 3rd & long
  • intercepted in the end zone
  • miss the extra point
  • called for holding
  • flagged on the play
  • fumbled at the goal line

I got it: upon further review, the call is reversed. They should've opened this movie in October.

There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

Update (4/6/08): Leatherheads is being roughed up by critics. A.O. Scott of the Times, one of my favorite critics, closes his negative review with this paragraph:

"What is harder to comprehend is how [the director] Mr. Clooney turned out such a sloppy, haphazard and tonally incoherent piece of work. “Leatherheads” lurches hectically between Coen brothers-style pastiche and John Saylesian didacticism, while Mr. Clooney works his brow and his jaw and waits in vain for his charm to kick in and save the day. Unless he’s just vamping until the director shows up and gives him some clear instructions."

The box office disappointed as well. It's a bad weekend for the last movie star.

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