Evan Almighty, Evan Disaster
Easily the worst picture of the year, the sloppy Bible-thumping sequel to Jim Carrey's 2003 blockbuster "Bruce Almighty," which may easily be the most expensive comedy Hollywood has ever produced, is not only despised by movie critics, but - given its overinflated budget - it is also a box office disaster of biblical proportions. What went wrong?
When Universal greenlighted this Christian fundamentalist project (which is, among others, shockingly produced by Tom Hanks) it was given the budget of $150 million. The original 2003 comedy was made for only $80 million, and that movie starred Jim Carrey and "Friends" rising star Jennifer Aniston, along with Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman. The latter two return, but the movie's principal star power is gone.
How come the film was so expensive then? Despite Steve Carell's success with NBC's "Office" he surely can't come with such a stiff price tag, can he? Actually, it gets worse. Mix in some bad weather, animals that won't listen and children with limited working hours, and the movie's cost skyrocketed to $210 million (the studio still claims the final cost was only $175 million).
After the studio became nervous, out went the jokes, in went the religious propaganda with a "heartwarming" (meaning patronizing) environmentalist message. The studio's desperate attempt to lure religious audiences from America's heartland however was a miscalculated one - the parents remembered the original 2003 movie for its mature content, and many expressed reluctance to take their children to see the new movie. Objecting to the movie's inane plot, almost 80% of movie critics at "Rotten Tomatoes" expressed negative view of the movie.
According to LA Weekly, at a recent marketing meeting, the film's director Tom Shadyac suffered a complete meltdown - unhappy with Universal's marketing of the movie, especially its lack of TV advertising, he began shouting at studio execs. "He acted like a complete asshole," said an anonymous contributor to the LA Weekly blog story. The studio remained firm - given the movie's out-of-control budget they would not spend any more money marketing it.
Universal has, according to reports, spent additional $50 million marketing the movie, although the director believes that figure should have gone up to $80 million. With its current cost set at $260 million, the film would have to exceed the original Jim Carrey movie and make over $500 million to become profitable. But can Steve Carell lure that kind of audience?
According to first Friday's estimates, the movie has earned $11 million. That means it is not expected to make more than $30-35 million this weekend. That is way below the opening weekend for "Bruce Almighty" which pulled in over $68 million for its opening weekend, and it is also way below the studio expectations of $40-50 million. And with international audiences being even less familiar with Steve Carrel, expect "Evan Almighty" to be the box office disaster Hollywood will remember for a very long time.