Despite starring above-the-line A-listers Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, New Regency’s $30 million poker thriller Runner Runner debuted last week to a paltry $7.7 million at the box office; leaving industry insiders scratching their collective heads as to how such a sure thing could misfire so badly.
A high-profile film (with two of the industry’s biggest stars) which fails to open to at least $20 million over opening weekend is definitely cause for alarm and has executives at 20th Century Fox (the film’s distributor) and Warner Brothers (Affleck’s Batman Vs. Superman home) scrambling for answers.
The Hollywood Reporter suggests that the film was in crisis mode from the get-go; and was in “such bad shape” that Affleck opted to bring in his long-time editing associate William Goldenberg (Argo, Gone Baby Gone) to help salvage the film and lend an assist to the already contracted editor Jeff McEvoy. But even with the combined talents of both the Academy Award-winning Goldenberg and McEvoy working tirelessly to assemble a coherent and entertaining cut of the film, the cards were already on the table and Runner Runner was destined to fold.
To add to the behind the scenes intrigue, Latino Review is suggesting that Warner Brothers (in their desperation to rehab Affleck’s image after the near-universal disdain which erupted over his casting as the new Batman) “coerced” director Brad Furman into softening Affleck’s character a bit so that audiences wouldn’t dislike him as much. As ludicrous as another studio tampering with a film that they have no vested interest sounds, perhaps they feared that providing the movie-going public with additional reason to dislike Affleck would harm their 2015 summer tentpole.
Just another strange day in Hollywood, to say the least.
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