Not even Spike Lee can teach an “Oldboy” new tricks.
Lee’s reboot of director Chan-wook Park’s South Korean revenge thriller of the same name, surrounded by bad buzz, is getting clobbered at the Thanksgiving box office. Playing in merely 583 locations, “Oldboy” could earn just $2 million for the five-day weekend in what’s shaping up to be one of the worst performances of the year.
Enthusiastic fans of the original had been waiting to see how the auteur would put his stamp on the cult sensation, released in 2003, but the movie’s distributor (Film District) doesn’t appear to have plans for an expansion.
The film’s current per-screen average of over $3,000 is one of the worst counts since DreamWorks’ “The Fifth Estate” and Universal’s “R.I.P.D.”
Unlike with other Thanksgiving movies, “Oldboy’s” marketing and TV campaign has been all but invisible in recent weeks and reviews for the film haven’t exactly been kind either (its current RottenTomatoes fresh rating is a sour 43%).
When asked about the film recently in an L.A. Times interview, star Josh Brolin said: “I do have opinions but it’s better I bite my tongue.”
Lee reportedly cut an hour out of the movie for producers to the director and Brolin’s dissatisfaction. The “Do the Right Thing” filmmaker even removed his trademark “Spike Lee Joint” for an unfamiliar and more impersonal “Spike Lee Film” during the editing process, in what appears to be another sign of the filmmaker’s displeasure.
The pic was produced on a moderate $30 million budget, but Film District could be in for a significant financial loss, albeit not a tentpole-sized one, if the movie doesn’t find an audience.
The remake marks the last release for distributor Film District before the company folds into Focus Features.
Spike Lee’s last successful film at the B.O. was 2006’s “Inside Man,” which grossed $88.5 million.