I’ve been tracking the rise of Jeremy Renner as his bid for legit Movie Stardom culminated with The Bourne Legacy. The late shift in schedule turned out to be a really good idea, puting enough distance between it and The Dark Knight Rises, allowing Legacy to take the #1 spot at the box office. On Friday afternoon it looked like Legacy was going to have a really good weekend, pushing $50 million for their opening. Twenty-four hours later, though, the estimate was knocked down nearly $10 million, with the opening weekend take at just over $40 million, which is good enough, anyway. So where did that money go? Was Universal that overzealous in their estimate?
Yes and no. Yes, obviously, they over-estimated their take. But no, they weren’t actually overzealous. Universal was actually on target with their projections, except for late night screenings. Typically during the summer post-10 PM screenings are above-average performers, especially for movies targeted at male audiences, like Legacy. However, the long-term effect of the Aurora theater shooting is that across the board these screenings are virtually empty now. Universal wasn’t the only movie to miss their late-night estimates; Warner Brothers had to lower The Campaign, too.
As for the Bourne franchise, up next is the wait to see if Universal goes ahead with a sequel. I think they will, because when I asked if they were happy with the $40 million they’re getting, and not the near-50 they imagined, Universal reps were quick to point out that while that number is down from Bourne’s previous installment, it is in line with the Bond reboot, Casino Royale. (“And look how that worked out for MGM!” said the rep. “Yes, in bankruptcy,” said I. *crickets*) But I do think we’re going to need to get the Redux Review Board in on this decision.
I don’t think they can make another Bourne and not actually have Bourne himself—they’ll have to get Matt Damon back. The best part of Legacy was thinking about how Renner’s Aaron Cross would square off against Damon’s Bourne. They’ll also have to give us more of Cross’s character going forward—“junkie on a bender” cannot continue to be his defining characteristic. And if they can’t get Damon back—given his harsh comments about writer/director Tony Gilroy, it is a big IF—they absolutely cannot call the movie Bourne Something Vaguely Threatening. It’s too confusing and definitely created misleading expectations for the audience.
Renner, meanwhile, takes his cemented status as an action star into January with the hilariously-bad-at-best Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. January is a wasteland and he’ll be lucky to escape that movie only mildly embarrassed, but he does have James Gray’s film Low Life, co-starring Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard due next year, too. The Weinstein Company has already purchased it for an inevitable award push. Lainey’s going to love that movie. Her precious Marion, getting loved up by Jeremy Renner’s hands. I’ve heard there’s a pretty graphic sex scene. Just for you, Lainey, I hope they focus on his hands. (Lainey: he really does have the most skeevy hands.)