'Vice' Looks Like a Very Bad Bet for Indie Studio
“Vice” isn’t a bomb by any reasonable measure.
The new Dick Cheney biopic, a hit piece down to the last frame, already has $23 million in the till as of Jan. 2, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. That amount is far more than “Fahrenheit 11/9” earned during its calamitous box office run late last year. It's also much better than what the Trump Derangement Syndrome comedy "The Oath" earned a few weeks back.
That likely won’t be enough, though.
"Vice," from the financially troubled Annapurna Pictures, hit theaters with a budget of $60 million.
That gaudy number turned plenty of heads in Hollywood, particularly since the new-ish studio lost millions on other indie risks like “The Sisters Brothers” and “Detroit.” “The Sisters Brothers” cost $38 million and made just $3 million during its tepid box office run. Indiewire.com notes Annapurna is on the hook for 1/5 of the production costs, which partially softens the blow.
“Vice” likely will suffer a similar, if not as embarrassing, fate. And that’s before counting all the money poured into marketing and related costs — like the film's Oscar campaign.
There’s little chance “Vice” has legs at this point in the release cycle, even though this weekend’s new release list features but a single film, a genre entry dubbed “Escape Room.”
“Vice” already sits at number eight on the box office charts after less than two weeks in theaters. The 2018 holiday movie competition is still in play, with “Aquaman,” “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Bumblebee” dominating the scene.
While “Vice” earned a plethora of awards season love last month, and deserved acclaim for Christian Bale's transformation into the title character, the actual reviews have been decidedly mixed. The Daily Beast, a reliably hard-left outlet, loathed the film. The site called it arguably 2018's worst movie.
Naturally, most right-leaning critics did, too, as it repeatedly botches history and blames Cheney for everything from school shootings to climate change. The media did the film's heavy lifting prior to release, pretending it would offer a fair look at the Cheney years.
The Cinemascore ranking, a measure of how opening weekend audiences rate a new film, proved near disastrous – a C+ rating.
In theory, a Golden Globes win or two this weekend could help, but hardly enough to fix the math in play.
Then again, movies like “Vice” don’t exist to crush it at the box office. Liberal storytellers want these films in the marketplace to change hearts and minds, or at least make people forget the truth behind them.
It’s why we saw biased productions like “Confirmation” (about Clarence Thomas’ alleged sexual misconduct), “Game Change” (HBO’s Sarah Palin hit piece) and “Recount” (HBO, again).
Headlines fade. News cycles are forgotten. Movies, with their starry casts and compelling narratives, live on via streaming platforms, cable and home video.
That’s where “Vice” will go next, no matter how much money it loses for its studio.