Daily Film Thoughts (5/23/17): Is ‘Baywatch’ dead on arrival?

A new daily unfiltered and unedited journal of random film thoughts going through my head. No proofreading or serious analysis allowed.

5/23/17

Baywatch is opening over this long Memorial Day weekend. The Paramount film is being destroyed by critics, sitting at a just 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. In theory, it should’ve been an easy sell. Make an unaplogetic big-screen comedy out of a campy but loved TV series with charasmatic stars in the leads. That’s what the Jump Street films did. But despite the prescence of Zac Efron’s abs and Dwayne Johnson’s arms, the film doesn’t seem to have drummed up much interest. Paramount hasn’t sold the nostalgia factor. Nor have they sold it as a buddy comedy like Jump Street. I’m not entirely sure of the strategy behind the marketing. Who is this movie for? Although, the marketing folks at Paramount probably aren’t to blame. With word on the movie so bad they maybe had nothing of quality to sell.

It’s not going to have a great opening in the states. I’d be shocked if it gets anywhere close to the $45-50M number over its five-day opening weekend that early tracking suggested. Hell, $30M may be tough to beat given the reviews and competition in Disney’s latest Pirates film. The production budget for Baywatch is just $40M, but based on recent comparables and continually raising costs it’s safe to assume that at least another $40M was spent marketing the film. Maybe it’ll stay out of the red if audiences like it more than critics. Maybe. Even then, when you consider oppurtnity cost, it looks like a failure for Paramount, a studio that also saw Ghost in the Shell bomb earlier this year and the disaster that was Ben-Hur last year. It’s been a tough stretch for the studio as their only recent film that’s really out-performed expectations was Arrival. They better hope the latest Transformers hits big next month.

The Zac Efron & Dwayne Johnson fan in me is upset, as I think both are surprisng comedic talents capable of carrying studio films. Efron may be limited, but he thrived as a bro in both Neighbors films and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates as well. Johnson is obviously a capable star, one of the biggest in the industry, but unless he’s aprt of a franchise or paired with a comedic sidekick like Kevin Hart who has their own appeal, I’m starting to wonder about his real draw.

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