'Elysium' Tanks: Matt Damon New 'King of the Left-wing Flops'
For those wondering how Matt Damon (or anyone) could take away the title of "King of the Left-wing Flops" from George Clooney, just look at the numbers below. Matt Damon is 4-for-4 -- four left-wing flops in just four years. Not for lack of trying, Clooney has never achieved that. Clooney also mitigates the damage he does with mid-level budget films. Damon, on the other hand, likes his flaming balls of left-wing fail to be as spectacularly expensive as possible:
"Elysium" (2013): $56 million; $38 million worldwide - 3284 theatres - $115 production budget*
"Promised Land" (2012): $7.6 million; $8.1 million worldwide - 1676 screens.
"Happy Feet Two" (2011): $65 million; $150 million worldwide - 3606 screens - $140 million production budget*
"Green Zone" (2010): $35 million; $95 million worldwide - 3004 theatres - $100 million production budget*
*add $50 to $80 million for promotion and advertising, then double the total for the amount a film has to clear just to break even.
Damon officially stole the title of "King of the Left-wing Flops" Sunday when Box Office Mojo reported that director Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium" has zero chance of reaching $100 million. That is actually a pretty generous assessment of a film that will likely have to crack $400 million worldwide just to break even.
After two full weekends, "Elysium" has only cleared $56 million in North America and another $38 million worldwide, which puts it way behind such high-profile disappointments as "Cowboys and Aliens" and "Pacific Rim." Mega-flop "John Carter" (which would only clear $73 million in North America), was at $53 million domestic after its second weekend, only $2 million behind "Elyisum."
It is possible "Elysium" could stretch its worldwide legs to clear the magic $400 million number, but as of now no one really believes that.
What has to be especially galling to Sony is that Damon's presence might have hurt "Elysium." After two weekends and without the politically-divisive Damon as star, Blomkamp's "District 9" -- which cost only $30 million and starred no one -- had already cleared over $72 million.
Sony can at least take some solace in the fact that "Elyisum" will not be a write-off of "Green Zone" or "Happy Feet Two" proportions. After a dozen-plus films aimed at the Bush Administration flopped, the $100 million "Green Zone" practiced the definition of insanity and was dead on arrival. The $140 million "Happy Feet Two" (a Global Warming, pro-same sex marriage "children's" movie) probably cost the studio over $100 million.
All of this likely serves to explain why Damon was so shamelessly dishonest during his "Elyisum" promotional blitz. "I don't think it is trying to saying anything," Damon assured potential ticket-buyers as news of "Elysium's" left-wing agenda started to dribble out.
Obviously, Damon and Hollywood are determined to never learn the lesson that moviegoers are not interested in being preached to by hypocritical left-wing millionaires, but that doesn't change the fact that Damon's box office clout is waning fast:
His last solo smash was the 2007 sequel The Bourne Ultimatum, with his supporting turn in 2010's True Grit also flexing box office muscle. Other recent films, including The Adjustment Bureau, Margaret, Invictus, Green Zone, We Bought a Zoo and Promised Land, ranged from underwhelming to downright duds.
Don't worry about Damon, though, he still makes millions per film--more than enough for the high-profile public school advocate to send his own children to private schools.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC