GLAAD on Poor 'Dilemma': 'Alienating Audiences Isn't a Recipe for Success'
By Rob Shuter Posted Jan 18th 2011 12:59PM
EXCLUSIVE: Count one prominent gay rights group as unsurprised by the gooey soft opening for Ron Howard's buddy flick, 'The Dilemma,' over the long weekend. Despite the appeal of having a huge director and major-draw stars like Vince Vaughn and Ron Howard, the film grossed a mere $21.1 million during the four-day period. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) tells me that producers alienated fans when they opted to keep the now-infamous "electric cars are gay" joke in the finished film.
"Although there are a million reasons why a film can fail, we hope that Ron Howard and Universal will recognize from this that alienating audiences isn't a recipe for success," said Herndon Graddick, deputy director of programs at GLAAD, who oversees GLAAD's work with TV networks and film studios.
Back in October, CNN's Anderson Cooper started a firestorm when he said he was offended by a movie trailer he had seen wherein an actor repeatedly used the word "gay" in a derogatory way.
"I was shocked that not only they put it in the movie, but that they thought that it was OK to put that in a preview for the movie to get people to go and see it," he told Ellen DeGeneres without naming the movie. "I just find those words, those terms, we've got to do something to make those words unacceptable cause those words are hurting kids."
After pressure from GLAAD and others, Ron agreed to remove the offending words from the trailer but not the movie. Now a friend close to Anderson tells me, "He's happy America found those words as unacceptable as he does."
One film executive points out that the $21.1 million total ($17.4 for the first three days) is "very very low for a Ron Howard-directed movie," especially one starring Vince and Kevin who are accustomed to big openings. Just a sample: 'Four Christmases,' $31 million; 'Couples Retreat,' $34 million and 'Grown-Ups,' $40 million.
Moviefone's resident box office expert, Gary Susman, summed it up perfectly. "Blame poor marketing, from the ill-conceived 'electric cars are gay' joke in the trailer that made the movie seem gratuitously controversial, to the ads that misrepresented it as a goofy buddy comedy when it turned out to be more of a serious exploration of male friendship. At this rate, it's going to be a struggle for 'Dilemma' to recoup its reported $70 million budget."
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