The only words you'll hear more than "It's your fault" today at Weinstein Company HQ: "It could have been worse," the unofficial new TWC battle cry after Zack and Miri Make a Porno opened over the weekend to a disappointing $10.7 million. Indeed, it probably will be worse — Universal and Lionsgate accused the Weinsteins of inflating their gross by as much as a million dollars, and just for fun, another potential lawsuit threatens the brothers' follow-up this week. So who is to blame, anyway, and what's next?As director Kevin Smith told the LA Times today, "If [Zack and Miri] dies at the box office, I don't think we'll see another porn-related comedy for a long time." We have a better idea: Make all the porn comedies you want, just don't release them on Halloween behind a campaign featuring sanitized TV spots and stick figures of Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. While the latter star still remains a relatively unknown box-office quanity, Rogen has done nothing but open one R-rated comedy after another since last year. Zack and Miri, not so much: It's Rogen's worst opening by far, collecting less than a third of Knocked Up's $30.7 million draw in May '07 and contorting his agent into insisting Rogen doesn't need fellow UTA-er Judd Apatow behind him — as with Knocked Up, Superbad and Pineapple Express — to deliver a hit. Smith, meanwhile, probably won't even beat his opening for Clerks 2, triggering critics to ask how much demand — if any — remains for his digressive brand of raunch. But don't take our word for it: He anticipated it himself, pushing the script for his terrorism drama Red State during the press rounds for Zack and Miri. The Weinsteins didn't want it then and definitely won't take it now; their parting ways with the filmmaker (for now) has less to do with taste than insolvency, particularly with the backlog of films piling up next to the mop in their utility closet. It was fun while it lasted. Except the Jersey Girl part, of course, but they're over it.
Which leaves the Weinsteins themselves, having failed once more in their attempts to stir up ratings and title controversies, looking to Zack and Miri's Flopz™ eternity for a little nickel-and-dime magic for years to come. There's always this week's Soul Men, though, right? Not so fast, says R&B legend Sam Moore, who told The Independent this weekend that he may seek a share of the gate for the Sam Jackson/Bernie Mac comedy he thinks ripped off his life story. And it didn't even do it well:
The film infringes trademark rights over the duo's most famous song, "Soul Man", Moore alleges. It also wrongly portrays them as constantly swearing, making liberal use of the "N-word" and indulging in casual sex with groupies, he complains. "The film is sexist, racist, and embarrassing, and that's not what Sam & Dave were about," said Moore, who is seeking "significant" compensation, together with a disclaimer distancing him from the narrative. [...] "The Weinstein Company says the film's fiction. In that case, I'd like them to tell me what part's supposed to be fiction," said Moore. "I'd like them to tell me which two black soul musicians, signed to Stax Records, who worked with Isaac Hayes, it's meant to portray."Oh — so that's why they wanted to share this one with MGM. Things may be lean around the office these days, but at least Harvey and Bob won't have to face a jury alone.
- 'School' still rules box office [Variety]
- 'Soul men' film is no laughing matter... [The Independent]