Foxcatcher's Box Office
Foxcatcher poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published February 14, 2015
Just another example of real art not paying off in the marketplace.
People have been curious about Foxcatcher. Ever since the trailer debuted online months ago, itís been a buzzed about Oscar contender pretty much since people first heard about it. Fans were curious, asking ďis that Steve Carell in there underneath that make-up and prosthetics?Ē Also ďam I supposed to take Channing Tatum seriously?Ē The answer to both is, yes.

But the film has not resounded with pop audiences, pulling in $12 million as of this writing, a well less than spectacular figure for a film with this kind of buzz. Why is that? Letís try to examine. First off, I personally think the film is excellent. I give it a B and itís one of the tops of 2014. But then again, I have taste. America doesnít see it that way. They just want something that they are interested in, where they can point at the screen and say ďdude, I can relate to that!Ē And thatís the problem here. Not many people can relate to the events of this picture. You have an obscenely rich weirdo in his 50ís who is obsessed with young male wrestlers. That doesnít describe most people.

This character, John du Pont, is portrayed by beloved comedic actor Steve Carell. Now, the people who will dutifully flock to the actorís lighthearted comedy fare or episodes of The Office have stayed away from Foxcatcher in droves. Maybe itís because they donít know that itís Steve Carell behind that make-up. But I would hazard a guess that the real reason has something to do with more serious, disturbing subject matter and a lack of any comic relief. People just donít want to see their heroes being put in a low position, to paraphrase a line from the film. While Carell was a great choice for the role, he simply did not bring his fan-base along with him. Broad comedy fans said ďI donít want this material which makes my brain itchyÖI want Dan in Real Life 2!Ē The studio and director Bennett Miller have to be pissed about that Ė Just another example of real art not paying off in the marketplace.

Neither does this flick appeal to Channing Tatum fans. Girls most definitely donít want to see it, and it doesnít help that there is almost zero female presence in the film. Tatum most certainly does not get to showcase his comedic stylings; this is not a funny picture, in case you havenít figured this out yet. While Tatum gives a focused, intense performance, it is barren of the qualities that made him a superstar in the first place. So he shares that phenomenon with Carell in the film: toned down, gray, bleak outlooks and lifestyles for their characters. I guess what Iím saying is, for the mass public, this film just isnít FUN enough.

A word about Mark Ruffalo. While he may not be a leading man type actor with a rabid cult of fans, he seems to bring something good to every movie he is in. No exception here, where he undertakes a remarkable physical transformation in order to embody a world champion wrestler. Basically, he bulked up and looks the part to a tee. He got nominated for and is going to lose the Supporting Actor Oscar, just like Carell is going to lose Best Actor. But both men are very deserving and turned in fantastic work. Of course this means nothing to the general audience. Who needs direction, tone, writing, acting, and suspense when you could just have broad laughs, special effects, cute cameos, and the studio hype machine? One thing always beats out the other (hint: itís not the good thing).

So yes, Foxcatcher is a quality film worthy of your time. Does that mean that America will catch on? No. Is this film ďtoo goodĒ for the mass public? I donít know. But itís good enough for film dorks like me. Maybe people need to care more.
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