Opening weekend box-office data for Trouble with the Curve, the new baseball drama starring Clint Eastwood, is officially in — and the numbers aren't likely to make Clint's day. (Watch the film's trailer below.) Though box-office experts had predicted that Trouble with the Curve would win the weekend with an estimated gross in the $18 million range, it actually earned a disappointing $12.7 million, dragging into third place behind horror flick House at the End of the Street and cop drama End of Watch. The film comes less than a month after Eastwood addressed an empty chair as if President Obama were sitting in it during a bizarre, rambling speech at the Republican National Convention. Is the under-performing Trouble with the Curve a sign that Eastwood's convention shtick hurt his box-office prospects, or is something else to blame?
The RNC speech clearly hurt the movie: Eastwood has faced persistent "ridicule and parody" in the weeks after his RNC speech, and the poorly timed Trouble with the Curve is suffering the consequences, says Roger Friedman at Showbiz 411. Though Eastwood is a beloved actor, filmmaker, and cultural icon, the film's middling performance proves that even one of Hollywood's elder statesmen can torpedo his own career. Unfortunately for costars Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, Eastwood's penchant for speaking his mind has had a tangible effect on a film's bottom line.
"Clint Eastwood: Trouble for Curve caused by chair speech"
The problem isn't the speech — it's the movie itself: Trouble with the Curve flopped for several reasons, but the RNC speech isn't one, says Gabe Toro at Indiewire. The film comes just a year after the similarly-pitched Moneyball, a movie with a "significantly stronger pedigree." And Eastwood, "the Last Hard Man," is miscast as an "insular, nerdy" baseball scout. The success of Eastwood's other late-career movies like Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino suggests that audiences want to see Clint as a "take-no-prisoners shit-kicker" — not a "cranky old codger in a zero-violence setting."
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There's nothing wrong with Clint's career or the movie: "It's best to view this as a failure of the baseball genre, which has an incredibly low ceiling," says Ray Subers at Box Office Mojo. Baseball fans just don't turn out for baseball movies; after all, they "spend 162 days a year (or more) following their favorite teams," so only an extraordinary baseball movie will make them spend the extra time and money when they could simply stay at home to watch an actual game for free. The final nail in Curve's box-office coffin? Each league has added an extra Wild Card spot, making Major League Baseball's late September "more competitive than ever."
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