May 9th, 2011
11:49 AM ET
Mel Gibson has said that friends like Whoopi Goldberg and Jodie Foster have stood by him through tough times, but will moviegoers?
Gibson’s film “The Beaver,” which co-starred and was directed by Foster, opened in limited release this weekend to poor box office returns. After a bow in 22 theaters, “Beaver” only pulled in $104,000, according to Entertainment Weekly.
The movie, released a little less than a year after the controversy surrounding Gibson and his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva made headlines, tells the story of a deeply depressed toy company CEO (Gibson) who relies on a beaver puppet to help turn his life back around.
As the Hollywood Reporter points out, “The Beaver” had plenty of pre-release publicity, what with Gibson’s personal struggles and Foster’s ardent support of him during press stops. (And who can forget a movie title like that?)
Some critics also appreciated the film and Gibson’s performance, with Rolling Stone saying “[this] flawed but heartfelt movie has the power to sneak up and floor you,” and Roger Ebert saying the movie shows “another of Mel Gibson’s fine performances, a reminder that he is after all a superb actor.”
And yet, while the movie’s studio Summit Entertainment was hoping for a per-screen average of $15,000 to $18,000, in actuality that average was $4,745, reports THR.
Summit Entertainment president of domestic distribution Richie Fay tells the Los Angeles Times that while some may pinpoint Gibson’s public perception as the root of the problem, he believes it has more to do with the movie itself.
“I don’t think this is as much a repudiation of Mel and his personal life as it is about a film with difficult subject matter,” Fay said. “As it turns out, I think the film is more of an art-house specialty kind of movie than a broader commercial film….even though it’s got a commercial actor in it like Mel Gibson.”
“The Beaver” will expand to 30 theaters next weekend and was expected to go wide on May 20, but the L.A. Times reports that it will likely stay limited to an “art-house run.”
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