Huge Valkyrie Mistake

No matter what problems Bryan Singer and Tom Cruise‘s Valkyrie may be grappling with, there is nothing worse than postponing a major film’s release date for the second time and, as MGM and United Artists announced this morning, pushing the opening from October 3rd to February 13th.
I’m sorry to say this but today’s announcement was tantamount to throwing in the towel. MGM and UA have more or less said to the world, “This movie has problems so insurmountable that they can’t be fixed even over the next six and a half to seven months…even with the benefits of extra shooting, even with the opportunity to constantly tweak and refine and even write and shoot an extra scene or two…this film is so not working that the only thing we can do is give it a dump release in mid-February.”
Things may not be as bad as this. I haven’t seen the film. It could be an okay or so-so thing. The point is that MGM and UA have convinced everyone that they’ve got a real stinker on their hands, or something dangerously close to that. They should have stuck to the October release date, come hell or high water.
I’m not saying I agree with any of the smart cracks that have been passed around today, but a smart director-writer wrote me earlier today with the following: “I just heard someone refer to Valkyrie as “Tom Cruise’s The Day The Clown Cried.”

  • Rich S.

    It is hard to judge the quality of a film based on something like this, but, no, generally moving a film from prime summer territory into the doldrums of February (and right out of Oscar contention) is not a good thing.
    The Tropic Thunder cameo is going to have to be really good to remove the stench of death from Tom Terrific’s career.

  • breadlymoore

    A “dump” release on a four-day Feb. weekend that’s been proven a rich moneymaker for the right movie? This year alone saw THREE films reach over 20 mil for the long haul.
    Jesus, Jeff…Feb hasn’t been a dump month for years now.
    Sounds like a nice move to me. It would’ve been killed in Oct.

  • http://www.chud.com Devin Faraci

    It’s 100% a dump. It’s the only Cruise movie in forever to open in a non-optimal time, it’s a movie that got taken first out of a summer berth and then out of an awards berth. That means it’s seen as something that won’t be popular or critically successful. The hope is that opening it in a doldrums time (the only competition is FRIDAY THE 13TH and CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, neither of which is taking the film’s supposed target demo) they can at least make SOME money. Film won’t turn a profit in domestic release, though.

  • MiraJeffAICN

    I had high hopes for Valkyrie but this is not a good sign. Who opens a movie about Nazis on Valentine’s Day weekend? It was never going to make a lot of money but I would’ve thought UA would released it for awards consideration for Branagh or Nighy for Best Supporting Actor. Oh well. Poor Tom… talk about getting off to a rocky start when you really need smooth sailing.

  • rockne

    Wow…I am completely floored by this. There is no question that moving a movie twice is problematic. You choose a date in the first place based on what the movie represents from you…and then you see it…and, oh, man…someone must see something in this that says…wow…I can’t even imagine…I’ve read so many people say the script was so good…
    I remember in an interview Bryan Singer once said he wasn’t sure where his career would go after the somewhat disappointment of Apt Pupil…I wonder what will happen if this tanks…
    He needs to make small psychological films and get back to what he does really well…though X-Men 1 and 2 were awesome…

  • filmfestivalgeek

    Faraci’s right – breadlymoore can find some (minor) exceptions but overall the perception of Feb. is still as being a graveyard month…
    Cruise may still hold enough oversea’s status to salvage the production costs of the film…he’s still more popular there than here..
    ..geez…Michael Jackson…David Hasselhoff..Tom Cruise…I thought the Europeans were suppose to be the cultured ones?

  • Titus Pullo

    Wow, I had some high hopes for this movie. I wonder if the film underwent significant editing changes along the lines of the summer blockbuster cut to the award show prestige picture cut, now to the lets just get through this and put it behind us cut. Hard to believe it could be THIS bad….very disappointing.

  • breadlymoore

    “breadlymoore can find some (minor) exceptions”
    Go do some homework for the last five years of Pres Day releases. Minor my ass.
    However, I see that this story is about nailing Cruise to the cross, not actual release issues. Logic isn’t allowed in this discussion.

  • Wrecktum

    You guys are either 1) stupid or 2) stupid. Observe:
    Presidents Day weekend grosses
    2008 (five day)
    Jumper $38,718,006
    The Spiderwick Chronicles $27,116,417
    Step Up 2 the Streets $28,725,889
    2007 (four day)
    Ghost Rider $52,022,908
    Bridge to Terabithia $28,536,717
    2006 (four day)
    Eight Below $24,968,601
    Date Movie $21,812,384
    The Pink Panther $20,863,217
    2005 (four day)
    Hitch $36,731,246
    Constantine $33,624,407
    I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves. Fools.
    By the way, here’s the competition for Valkyrie on Presidents Day weekend ’09:
    Valkyrie
    The Wolfman
    Confessions of a Shopaholic
    Pink Panther 2
    Still don’t see it?

  • Don Murphy

    As much as I respect Devin and laugh at Mirajeff they are just wrong. what I saw of the film looked lean and taut. Pundits spend too much time reading the tea leave when nobody knows shit as Goldman wrote. Film was never supposed to be a major hit anyway, but it will be I believe a great film. Who cares about release dates as a viewer? You still pay the same admission. Jeez!
    ————————
    IRON MAN
    from the director of ZATHURA

  • Mark

    Wrectum; wow! crappy movies can make money in February. what a great point to make when trying to explain why Valkerie isn’t a crappy movie.
    btw Jeffrey, is Mike Binder still peeved at Cruise for passing on Reign on Me, hence the day the clown cried crack?

  • http://moviemaniac2002 moviemaniac2002

    Just finally caught up with “Lions For Lambs”
    ….what a brilliant unintentionally funny
    casting stroke, putting Cruise in that role –
    – a smug arrogant, self-serving, self-satisfied
    prick…played by a smug, arrogant, self-serving
    self-satisified prick. (It’s almost the same thing
    as remaking “Dr.Strangelove” and casting
    Dick Cheyney as Buck Turgidson)
    But as previous posters already noted,
    “Valkyrie” even if it’s critically unloved, could
    generate cash….that dead-of-winter dumping
    ground has become fertile territory for films that
    ticketbuyers love but make critics gag…(I still
    remember the massive diconnect between
    critics and audiences over “Ghost Rider” and
    “Wild Hogs”

  • steven

    I don’t care what mistake they made.But i feel that Tom is hot and charming.
    He is so handsome ,all ladies love him,but he is married.Anyway,no one tell you that a married man can’t date with other women . I just saw he joined a site to seek someone to date.Ladies,hurry up! “lovingrich . com ” No thanks , my pleasure!

  • Richardson

    I don’t see what a list of crappy sci-fi and shitty comedies that made a lot of money has to do with ‘Valkyrie’. Do you really think this is going to appeal to the crowd that went to see ‘Date Movie’ and ‘Ghost Rider’?
    I mean, ‘Hannibal Rising’ was released in February, and that made less than $30 mil. That probably has more in common with ‘Valkyrie’ than anything on that list.

  • The Hoyk

    THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED CRACK – that’s an even better title. Try saying five times fast.

  • Jimmycrackcorn

    Wrecktum: If more than two of the movies you list had cracked the $100 million mark, I’d be more impressed by February’s track record. I have to believe that any Tom Cruise movie that isn’t “Magnolia” or “Lions for Lambs” has to gross well over $100 million to begin thinking about making its money back, assuming he is asking close to his usual fee and the marketing will double the budget… even if Murphy insists it “was never supposed to be a major hit.”

  • http://www.chud.com Devin Faraci

    Don, I’d certainly rather you be right on this, and the reality is that the quality of a film has no bearing on how it’s released (sometimes the high quality of a film can scare marketers who don’t know how to handle anything that isn’t cookie cutter).
    That said, the list of movies that grossed well on president’s day weekend is misleading. Those are all b-pictures, with almost every one of them having b-stars. Tom Cruise was, a couple of years ago, the biggest guy in Hollywood – the fact that he now gets release dates fit for STEP UP 2 THE STREETS is telling.

  • MiraJeffAICN

    Don, I don’t know why you’re laughing at little old me. I wrote a piece for the Colorado Springs Independent naming Valkyrie as one of the Top 10 Movies to see in 2008. I loved the script, the casting, the trailer… and the release date. But something’s up if they’re moving it from October to February and saying the move is supposed to help it grab more cash. People don’t think of Feb. 13 as President’s Day weekend. They think of it as Valentine’s Day weekend (at least people in relationships do) so I fail to see how auds will be in the mood for something like this on that weekend. If it’s as good as you say it’s looking and as great as I hope it is and think it has the potential to be, then why move it away from the 2008 Awards Season. Does the studio think it’ll play better in the ’09 race? Why not release it limited at the end of 08 and go wide in Jan/Feb, similar to Bucket List. I just don’t get the angle and it certainly doesn’t help the buzz. So keep laughing but I’m not sure what’s so funny.

  • TheJeff

    It may make some money on President’s Day weekend, like, um, Jumper. That’s a very good thing since it cost a bazillion dollars to make. The mid-February release date certainly says “bury this shit quickly” though. It’s neither Oscar-caliber nor summer tentpole caliber. The list of mostly horrible films that Wrecktum posted from the same weekend this year should drive that point home.

  • Geoff

    Weird. I know nothing about this film, but I had assumed it wasn’t CGI heavy or an action film. I thought by now they’d have had something in the can and ready to chop.
    There must be major problems with the script.

  • HoopersX

    2008 (five day)
    Jumper $38,718,006
    The Spiderwick Chronicles $27,116,417
    Step Up 2 the Streets $28,725,889
    2007 (four day)
    Ghost Rider $52,022,908
    Bridge to Terabithia $28,536,717
    2006 (four day)
    Eight Below $24,968,601
    Date Movie $21,812,384
    The Pink Panther $20,863,217
    2005 (four day)
    Hitch $36,731,246
    Constantine $33,624,407
    Really? This is your proof of life? Sorry, but war themed movies with even minor Oscar buzz don’t open in Feb. I never thought the original summer release date made any sense…. It’s not traditional summer fare. October or at least a winter release date made the most sense. Not a movie on your list had anything close to the kind of prestige or pedigree that Valkyrie does. What do they all have in common? They’re light fare or escapist sci fi types. Not a one has anything in common with the kind of movie Valkyrie is or at least looks to be. The best hope would’ve been to have it out there during awards season and at least pretend it was an Oscar type film. Moving to Feb is tantamount to throwing in the towel. Read your own list again.

  • Jeffrey Kunze

    The bottom line here is that Valkyrie may be bad or may be good, but it is NOT going to be a GREAT film.
    So what. Cruise, Singer, and company will live on.
    Top pedigree doesn’t always guarantee success.

  • Sean

    Obviously this bodes very poorly for Valkyrie, but since the topic keeps coming up, the appropriate points of comparison for R-rated prestige pics opening in Feb./Mar. are Hannibal (Feb. 9, 2001, $165M, Scott, Mamet, Zaillian, Hopkins, franchise) and We Were Soldiers (Mar. 1, 2003, $78M, pre-Passion/post-Oscar Gibson reteaming with Braveheart writer, WWII). Valkyrie would do well to fall in the middle there.

  • Jay T.

    If they had just pushed it back to December I would’ve said no big deal, but booting it until February is definitely a bad sign. Agreed.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/sandiegocinerama MPNeeb

    So does this mean we can expect to see TOP GUN 2 by 2011?
    Going back to forgotten franchises seems to be the career move at the moment.
    And Tom is going to want a hit…
    (Never mind his character would be an admiral by this point- which could work. See Admiral Mullen for example)

  • Gnome de Guerre

    Could someone explain the downside of releasing a bad prestige movie in Dec? Is it that there’d be too much competition and word-of-mouth would kill it faster than in Feb?

  • calraigh

    Oh god, Top Gun 2. I’m gonna start on that script straight away.Thanks!

  • jghoward

    If Valkyrie is a stinker, then could it be that Singer and McQuarrie are overrated hacks?
    Their careers were made with The Usual Suspects, which I find to be the most overrated movie in modern times, a dreary rehashing of various heist/crime flicks with an unearned “surprise” ending. Since the inexplicable success of this movie, both Singer and Mcquarrie have struggled — with the exception, I suppose, of X-Men (a franchise, by the way, that even Brett Ratner couldn’t fumble).
    If Valkyrie stinks, it’s because it’s writer and director aren’t very good filmmakers, folks.

  • corey3rd

    It’s not a complete graveyard move since it’s not dead box office. But it is a time you release films that appeal to an audience that’s sick of those Oscar quality films. Bring on the Stupid – Ghost Rider and Pink Panther being two films aimed at people suffering blunt head trauma.
    But at least this allows the DVD to come out in the early summer.

  • p.Vice

    What shocks me is that some folks were actually buying this as an “Oscar contender”. Tom Cruise is playing a fucking Nazi, people!!! It’s from the director of X-Men and Superman!!!! Add it up and you’ve got February all the way.

  • JapAdapters

    Dumb Monket wrote:
    “As much as I respect Devin and laugh at Mirajeff they are just wrong. what I saw of the film looked lean and taut. Pundits spend too much time reading the tea leave when nobody knows shit as Goldman wrote. Film was never supposed to be a major hit anyway, but it will be I believe a great film. Who cares about release dates as a viewer? You still pay the same admission. Jeez!”
    That cinches it. This movie will suck.

  • Aris P

    hey wrecktum – all the movies opening against valkyrie target a specific demographic (horror, splatter, teens, etc). nice research but a movie opening near Valentines day about nazis starring tom cruise (no matter how good he acts, mention is name and you will get a snicker guaranteed) – just wont cut it. if you think this is some master plan on the part of MGM, the most dysfunctional “studio”, past present and future (and dude i worked there for 3 years), i’m afraid you have it quite wrong.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    “Could someone explain the downside of releasing a bad prestige movie in Dec? Is it that there’d be too much competition and word-of-mouth would kill it faster than in Feb?”
    Right. The slots in Dec./Jan. are saved for what are assumed to be each studio’s serious Oscar contenders and big Christmas movies. If No Country For Old Men is getting rave reviews, put it there (to qualify and to build Oscar momentum), if Love in the Time of Cholera didn’t hit the mark, you dump it shortly after, but it’s assumed that no one’s going to go see the Oscar wannabes when they have the first-raters to see.

  • Jeremy Smith

    “There must be major problems with the script.”
    Just one, actually. It sucks.

  • dinther

    Aside from being entirely speculative, isn’t projecting the demise of this film all very “in-the-box”?
    Many of these comments strike me as quite limited in their perspective: the assumption being that because a company decides to deviate from the paradigm, this reflects that company’s lack of belief in its product.
    Years ago, May was too early for a summer release, August was a “dead” month, and oh yeah, Tom Cruise was “too short” to be a major star. Paradigms shift, times change.

  • Mark

    Singer is now officially America’s Danny Boyle. Do a break-out, rhythmically-hypnotic indie in 95, have a regretful follow-up, start an above-average francise, and then do a big-budget, man-must-save-the-world flick that serves as a microcosm of both the director’s potential and very spotty decision-making.

  • Mr E-Guest

    @Jeremy Smith

    It certainly is speculative, but that’s due to the lack of information coming from MGM/UA. Their press release said (in part):

    “When an opening became available for President’s Day Weekend, we seized the opportunity. Having seen a lot of the film and how great it is going to play once it’s finished, moving into a big holiday weekend is the right move.”

    The opening became available when MGM moved its own movie, The Pink Panther 2, from Feb 13 to Feb 6. So we can pretty much disregard the official statement.

    Since MGM either can’t or won’t tell the whole story, people are free to read the tea leaves as they wish – and that’s what you’re seeing here.

  • bmcintire

    Mr. E-Guest: Sony controls the theatrical release for THE PINK PANTHER sequel. MGM will only assume some of the international home video rights. VALKYRIE’s move was very much a muscle-flex by the new MGM regime under Mary Parent, a completely separate entity from anything having to do with Sony.

  • Jay T.

    The more important question is: now that There Will Be Blood is out on DVD, when the hell are they going to release the damn thing on Blu-Ray? Is anyone else as annoyed by this as I am?

  • Mgmax

    “Could someone explain the downside of releasing a bad prestige movie in Dec? Is it that there’d be too much competition and word-of-mouth would kill it faster than in Feb?”

    Right. The slots in Dec./Jan. are saved for what are assumed to be each studio’s serious Oscar contenders and big Christmas movies. If No Country For Old Men is getting rave reviews, put it there (to qualify and to build Oscar momentum), if Love in the Time of Cholera didn’t hit the mark, you dump it shortly after, but it’s assumed that no one’s going to go see the Oscar wannabes when they have the first-raters to see.

  • rr3333

    Rumor has it that the delays are related to improving the CGI of Cruise actually flying (without the aid of the Hindenburg).
    WB is thrilled, because they’re saving $150 Mil from having Singer do another lame Superman movie.

  • Unison

    Let me see…
    Middling MGM WWII War movie, costs about $75 million, has an A-list star, opening in the middle of February?
    Sounds like Hart’s War. That opened to about $9 million and ended up with $19 million.
    On paper, this is now a dog. Anything Valkyrie makes above that figure we can probably attribute to Cruise’s star power.

  • Mr E-Guest

    @bmcintire
    Are you certain? If so, please educate me further.
    I know that Sony was the distributor of MGM products, including the James Bond franchise, but that was before MGM was doing their own distribution.
    If you have any insight into the Sony/MGM breakdown on Quantum of Solace I’d appreciate it as well.

  • bmcintire

    Mr. E-Guest:
    While Sony was contracted to distribute for MGM during the one-year period between 2005-2006, Sony had it written in their contract to maintain theatrical distribution rights (and some perpetual and/or limited home video rights) for a number of original and franchise titles, whether or not the deal fell through – which it did. Among these were both the re-make of CASINO ROYALE and the upcoming QUANTUM OF SOLACE (and quite possibly the Bond after that) and both the 2006 re-make of THE PINK PANTHER and its 2009 sequel (which was put into development before the first one wrapped). Other titles in this clause (and their possible but highly unlikely sequels) included CAPOTE, THE WOODS, ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL and ROMANCE & CIGARETTES.

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