"Oldboy" Proves a Box Office Maxim: Foreign Thrillers Can Be a Tough Sell
Remaking a beloved foreign thriller isn't easy. Just ask Spike Lee.
The famed director put his own spin on the 2003 cult hit Oldboy from South Korea's Chan-wook Park only to see audiences and critics pan the final product. Only 42% of critics and 50% of viewers who've seen the film rate it "fresh," according to tracking site Rotten Tomatoes.
When asked what he thought of the final product, Josh Brolin, whose character seeks vengeance for 20 years of torture in captivity, told the L.A. Times that "it's better I bite my tongue." Ouch.
He has a right to be disappointed. Variety estimatesOldboy's Thanksgiving weekend open at just $2 million, a blow to distributor FilmDistrict ahead of its merger with Universal's Focus Features and parent Comcast . Still, recent history says we might have seen this coming:
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Let Me In
Notice the pattern? Although some of the bigger-name remakes have done well, most would be considered barely profitable after factoring in all marketing, prints, and advertising costs. Americans aren't as interested in foreign remakes as we are homespun fare. Oldboy's limited release (just 583 theaters) further reduces the move's odds of making a profit.
If there's a winner in the suffering -- both on screen and in FilmDistrict's accounting department -- it's Netflix , which has rights to stream the original. The nearly 1 million to have rated the film at the site give it 3.8 stars. Talk about irony: Lee and Brolin's Oldboy may be driving viewers to Netflix after the streaming king helped pack theaters for another FilmDistrict thriller, Insidious: Chapter 2.
Does Oldboy's lousy open mean fewer risky bets when Focus Features takes control in January? Not necessarily. Universal has been spending to acquire the rights to a lot of edgy comic book properties I suspect would appeal to those who wanted more from Lee's adaptation. Having built-in access to a broader distribution network should also help boost returns for such films.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Did you see Oldboy? Do you want Comcast and its subsidiaries funding more indie-style films? Let us know what you think in the comments box below.
You're never too old to start investing
Ignore the so-called pundits who profess to know the right time to get into (or out of) stocks. Here's the truth: Markets fluctuate, and the millions of Americans who have waited on investing because of recent meltdowns have missed out on huge gains and put their financial futures in jeopardy. Are you among this unfortunate group? Let us help. In our brand-new special report, "Your Essential Guide to Start Investing Today," The Motley Fool's personal-finance experts show you why investing is so important and what you need to do to get started. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.
The article "Oldboy" Proves a Box Office Maxim: Foreign Thrillers Can Be a Tough Sell originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Netflix at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Copyright © 1995 - 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.