“The Ides of March” — director/star George Clooney’s cynical and compelling look at a campaign adviser’s (Ryan Gosling) political disillusionment — has opened today to mostly positive reviews.
While some critics, including The Post’s Ann Hornaday, fault the film for not providing fresher insights into the pursuit of higher office, others found it smart, slickly paced and stacked with fine performances from Gosling, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The question is whether audiences, who don’t always pack multiplexes to see movies about presidential hopefuls, will show support in the form of ticket sales.
The revenue track record for political films has been somewhat spotty.
2006’s “All the King’s Men,” which starred Sean Penn as a corrupt Southern governor, was slammed by many critics and brought in a scant $7.2 million in North America. Back in 1998, the much-hyped “Primary Colors,” based on the novel by the once-Anonymous Joe Klein, earned only $39 million and $52 million worldwide, not even enough to recoup its budget costs.
More recently, “State of Play” — the Washington-set thriller that starred Russell Crowe and was released in 2009 — made $37 million. And earlier this year, “The Adjustment Bureau,” about a Senate candidate (Matt Damon) suddenly stalked by weird dudes in fedoras, fared better with $62.4 million and $127.8 million worldwide, undoubtedly helped by Damon’s star power and the fact that it was more of a psychological suspense film than a purely political story.
Ray Subers at Box Office Mojo predicts “Ides of March” will open in the $10 to $13 million range, for the reasons the data above suggests: people want escapism at the movies, not explorations of the ugly back-stabbing that occurs in American politics. Most prognosticators fully expect the robots of “Real Steel,” which will appear on more screens than Clooney and Co., to wind up at No. 1.
But consider this: based on a new Hollywood Reporter survey, Democrats go to the movies more frequently than Republicans and prefer edgier fare. Given that the character Clooney portrays in “Ides” is a Democrat, perhaps he’ll play to his base and attract more of the movie-ticket-buying electorate than we might think.
Predict what will at the weekend box office by voting in the poll below.