The Bank Job, based on a scandal-tinged heist in London more than three decades ago, opened the weekend with wow reviews and expectations of stealing business from that behemoth, 10,000 B.C. It didn’t happen. Grossing a dispiriting $5.7 million against $35.7 milion for 10,000 B.C. and $14 million for College Road Trip, The Bank Job hopped on the express train to Netflix. What happened? There are many theories:
1. Lousy title — could it be more generic?
2. Londoner Jason Statham is a surprisingly forceful screen presence. but he is not a star. The champion diver and model for the clothing brand French Connection became an actor best known for three Guy Ritchie crime films (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Revolver, Snatch) and roles in The Italian Job and two Transporter films. That’s second tier all the way. Matt Damon, George Clooney or Johnny Depp, who does a creditable Brit accent, could have made all the difference.
3. Brits care more about a Brit robbery than we Yanks do — that’s why The Bank Job opened at No. One in the U.K.
4. The trailer and the poster define blah.
5. The movie isn’t that good.
There is truth to all those objections. But the failure, as ever in a heavily market-driven movie business, is that Lionsgate, the indie studio releasing the film, didn’t have the bucks to bang The Bank Job into our heads with ads, ads, ads. More crucially, The Bank Job isn’t a classic, it’s a hugely entertaining B movie — a genre that seems to be slipping through the cracks in an industry that swings between popcorn movie events and Oscar fodder. If you have any other ideas, bring them on.
Meanwhile, there is good news in other box-office results:
— 10,000 B.C. was meant to match the success of the much better 300, which opened on same date last year. But the prehistoric craptacular did less than half 300‘s $72 million business. Props to those who saw the crap coming.
— College Road Trip opened below Martin Lawrence’s February release, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, which could mean that audiences are catching on.
— Paranoid Park, the artful Gus Van Sant indie about skateboarding and homicide, debuted promisingly in limited release as Semi-Pro dropped sixty-one percent from last week in a quick flush to oblivion.