Does Gossip Sell Movie Tickets?

It’s been a while since we’ve had a film production and subsequent press tour as juicy and embarrassing as what went down don’t worry darling. We starred in a stylish little thriller Florence Pugh, Harry Styles and Chris Kiefer become… that? Start with Shia LaBeouf replaced by Styles early in production, followed by rumors of an on-set relationship between Styles and the director Olivia Wilde, by Wilde, who has been served with custody papers regarding their ongoing separation from Jason Sudeikis while he was on stage at CinemaCon, to more rumors of on-set tension between Wilde and Pugh. Leaked Texts! “Miss Flo”! Conspicuous silence on Instagram! It all culminated in a world premiere in Venice featuring some of the most scrutinized body language of all time, and we all shared a mind-blowing collective moment that made us wonder if a global pop superstar really did discreetly slap a loogie on her lap Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. (He does not have.)

That don’t worry darling Drama is by no means unprecedented. Scandal-plagued filmmaking is a phenomenon as old as the film industry itself, and one with its own expectations. Depending on who’s speaking, such chaotic press tours are said to herald a catastrophic failure at the box office and “There’s no such thing as bad press” free advertising. A quick tour of some of Hollywood’s most notorious productions shows us that both – or neither! – can be true.

Perhaps the most notorious scandal-ridden film set in history was that of the 1963s Cleopatra, which nearly ruined 20th Century Fox with its runaway budget and melted the rumor mill involving Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s on-set affair that ended both their marriages. As vanity fair As he put it in a 1998 retrospective: “Never before had a celebrity scandal penetrated so far into global consciousness when Taylor-Burton predated John Glenn’s circumnavigation of the world on the front pages of the tabloids, was published in the Senate and even in the Vatican newspaper an ‘open letter’. , who denounced Taylor for ‘erotic vagrancy.’” Hold on for a moment.

But as much as Cleopatra became the shorthand for a runaway production whose toxic press coverage heralded a box-office bomb, the truth is that – although it was still losing money on its then-astronomical $44 million budget –Cleopatra actually performed at the box office. It was the number one it earned in 1963, and a year after its release, it entered the top 10 grossers of all time. The public fascination (and papal finger pointing) had paid off.

Take too Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, whose movie Mr & Mrs Smith coincided with Pitt’s divorce Jennifer Aniston. Pitt and Jolie didn’t appear as a couple until after the film’s premiere in June 2005. If you thought pre-release public scrutiny would poison the box office, think again: Mr & Mrs Smith topped the box office in its debut week and eventually grossed $487 million worldwide, earning it a top 10 domestic box office rating that year. It was both Pitt’s and Jolie’s top-grossing film at the time, and remains Pitt’s second best-selling film of all time, behind World War Z.

One of the reasons many were worried about rumors going under Mr & Mrs Smith is that love rumors are said to have been the cause of the failure of another thriller a few years ago. in the proof of life, meg ryan seeks kidnapping and ransom experts Russell Crowe for help after her husband was taken hostage in South America. During the film’s production, Ryan and Crowe began an affair as Ryan’s decades-long marriage Dennis Quaid completed. There was a lot of hand-wringing in the media at the time, although it was more about what this affair might mean for Ryan’s image as “America’s Sweetheart” following a string of successful rom-coms. in the weekly entertainment, Gillian Flynn openly wondering if dating the “Richard Burtonish” Crowe would be good or bad proof of lifeat the box office and was quoted by none other than the pop culture luminary dr drew, who said he “didn’t have any interest in this movie until I heard about all this” and predicted that audiences “will want to see if she’s going to see her fall in love with him on screen.”

As a matter of fact, Kenneth Turan‘s review in the Los Angeles Times openly said that looking for signs of real-life romance in Ryan and Crowe’s performances was far more compelling than the film itself. So what was it then? Did the scandal lead to this? proof of life‘s so-so box office performance (it debuted in third place behind the fourth weekend of Ron Howard‘s How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the opening weekend of the Chris O’Donnell mountaineer movie altitude limit), or was the scandal the only reason anyone even went?

Perception is often a more permanent metric than the numbers themselves. Tom cruise‘s 2005 press tour for Steven Spielberg‘s war of the Worlds not only remains notorious for his appearance The Oprah Winfrey Show where he jumped on the couch, but also for his newfound unbridled zeal for discussing and promoting Scientology, embodied by a today show interview where he accused Matthew Lauer being “smooth” on the subject of psychotropic drugs.

Cruise’s escapades were the topic a lot of dismay in the middle. Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone blamed the bad press Mission: Impossible III disappointing at the box office — and was involved in ending a production deal Cruise had with Paramount. More importantly, Spielberg himself seemed resentful of Cruise for jeopardizing that war of the Worlds roll out And yet this film did incredibly well in the summer of 2005, topping $600 million worldwide and ranking fourth for all of 2005 behind a war of stars movie, a Harry Potter movie and the first Chronicles of Narnia. Sure there was greater Achievements, but it’s safe to say that Cruise’s press tour did more damage to sources oprah Show Couch as it did war of the Worlds‘ Profits.

Which brings us back to don’t worry darling and whether the rubber neck will torpedo his chances via on-set friction and imaginary movie premiere spit. History says that probably won’t be the case. Mr. & Mrs. Smith, War of the Worlds, and Cleopatra everything played out as they would have without a hint of controversy. As for proof of life, it would never compete with Spoilsport about the child-friendly winter holidays. That don’t worry darling Stories were so scattered and omnidirectional (as opposed to one direction?) that the overall narrative cannot be easily summed up. One thing’s for sure: the film is on America’s radar — most likely for the better, not the worse. Does Gossip Sell Movie Tickets?

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