'Tomcat' scratches poor B.O. for Revolution's inaugural pic
Were “Tomcats” to have come from any other studio, or any other producer, it could have skulked off into the junkyard of fizzled teen movies.But after months of anticipation, the most one could say about Revolution Studios’ inaugural movie is that it has given motorists a means of staying awake in traffic. With an ubiquitous outdoor campaign in unusually bright yellow hues, one could do anything but ignore “Tomcats.” And yet audiences did exactly that: After a week in release, the teen comedy from Joe Roth’s nascent Revolution managed to cough up little more than a hairball at the box office, taking in an anemic $8.1 million. (Apparently, helmer and scribe Greg Poirier mistook auds’ embrace of “Hannibal” as a sign that a scene in which a human testicle is eaten would get major laughs.) Clearly, Roth’s motivation is to build a library, not to make his first movie an event pic on the magnitude of “Bridge on the River Kwai.” After all, Revolution has a pipeline — a complex nexus of foreign distribbers, broadcast and cable nets, and home vid operations — that needs be fed six pics a year to be happy. Agents and producers snickered about the pic — after all, what’s better than a joke at someone else’s expense? — but did Hollywooders ever think to heap a tenth of their scorn on flops like “Say It Isn’t So” or “Get Over It”? Certainly not. Why? Because “Tomcats” comes from Roth, the man who brought Disney to the top of the box office pile six of seven years running with “The Sixth Sense,” “Armageddon” and “The Rock,” finishing second only in the year he did not finish first. Forbes magazine recently plastered Roth on its cover, trumpeting his arrangement with Sony as “the sweetest deal in Tinseltown.” And pic comes at a time when Roth’s symbiotic studio was supposed to have freed up Col chairman Amy Pascal to focus on making pictures with broader appeal. While “Tomcats” is hardly a disaster for Roth given its modest $11 million budget, the measly grosses are certainly disappointing for Sony execs, who spent $25 million to hype it — but who expect to make a small profit when ancillary revenues are added in.But it would be a mistake to count out Roth’s Revolution, which has as excellent a relationship with A-list talent as it does an understanding of the process of big-budget movie-making. Sony is placing its bet on both. As soon as Roth makes those big, A-lister movies, Sony execs figure, they can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Or so they fervently hope.