Flick Flop

WHAT’S WRONG WITH this picture?

By (Cover story)

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Published: Tue 14 Dec 2010, 6:53 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:15 PM

Even with two of the world’s biggest movie stars in Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp aboard, The Tourist might struggle to make a mark at the North American box office.

Prerelease tracking surveys indicate soft must-see interest in the costly Sony release. Some industry pundits — as usual — blamed the marketing materials, while others said the A-list casting can’t mask a tired concept.

Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Tourist has Depp’s character travelling to Venice to get over a recent breakup and getting involved with Jolie’s sultry Interpol agent.

“But the problem may be that he doesn’t have green eyes and a cap on his head or scissors for hands,” an industryite offered. “If you think about it, Depp’s most successful roles have always had him playing oddballs.”

As for Jolie, her most recent outing came in July with the action thriller Salt, a $118 million domestic grosser.

Despite the proximity to that middling performance, The Tourist has received wide media coverage, helped by Jolie’s pairing with Depp. Sony secured cover stories in USA Weekend, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue and Vanity Fair, helping to spread awareness of the film among prospective patrons.

But the movie’s talent-bloated $100 million production budget surely requires a domestic run of $150 million-$200 million just to reach break even on the picture.

Helpfully, The Tourist is expected to over-perform internationally, much in the manner of Salt.

Executives at Sony and producer Graham King’s GK Films insisted the action thriller would enjoy a strong run even if it doesn’t debut impressively. The holiday season generally produces a sleeper hit or two. Also, adult-targeting movies are often leggy as older moviegoers take longer to support films.

But if The Tourist fails to perform, King’s company, and not Sony, will take it on the chin. GK covers all production outlays while Sony covers prints and advertising costs and handles most worldwide distribution in exchange for a distribution fee in the low double-digit percentages.

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