You'd have to figure the end of the line was coming for Adam Sandler sooner or later, no? Adam Sandler movies usually generate pretty negative reviews, but his latest, Blended, seemed to draw a different, more specific sort of ire, with critics blasting Sandler's particularly conservative view of contemporary families and sex roles. And now it seems as if audiences have also rejected Blended.
Adam Sandler's latest opened to only $14.2 million, landing with a thud in third place this weekend. That's only slightly better than the $13.4 million taken in by That's My Boy a couple of years ago, the worst opening weekend of Sandler's career. Of course, that was an R-rated movie, and this is a more broadly appealing film rejoining Sandler with Drew Barrymore. The two last co-starred in 50 First Dates, which actually opened to slightly under $40 million ten years ago. That just wasn't enough nostalgia, however, for Hollywood's most overpaid actor.
The box office juice was in reuniting Sandler and Barrymore, who also famously starred in the beloved-by-some The Wedding Singer. But the two movies with them were romantic affairs, and the performers still had their youth. Not that both of them aren't holding up in their older ages, but people didn't seem to want to see these two coming together with kids. The whole kids-film aspect seemed to fly in the face of the appeal of Sandler and Barrymore's slapstick-heavy courtship in those two original films. For kids, they wonder who these old people falling in love might be. For the older crowd, they just didn't want a reminder that romance at an accelerated age now realistically involves children, particularly the sitcommy brood featured in ads for Blended. Also, that title – oof. What is this thing about, making smoothies?
Sandler's hit a rough patch in his career, and even the recent hits he's had like Bedtime Stories and Just Go With It were relative underperformers. Much of his problem stems from excess: why is it that Sandler films cost so much even though very little happens in them? Grown Ups 2 was an $80 million expenditure for Sony before prints and advertising, and doesn't 70% of that movie take place in a store? That's My Boy, which features Sandler cradling a Bud Light and making funny voices in Andy Samberg's face, carried at $70 million budget. Somehow Blended only cost $40 million, which means either they got crazy tax breaks, or Sandler took less than his usual salary, probably in exchange for the back-end gross. But who cares? Apparently it was a vacation for him.
But Sandler is nothing if not a survivor, and he's very close to jump-starting this lull in his career. He's diversifying with both the comedy-drama The Cobbler with writer-director Tom McCarthy, and he's leading the ensemble of Men, Women And Children for director Jason Reitman. After that, it's back to the dumb blockbuster pool, though with a twist. For the first time he'll appear in an effects-heavy movie, working with director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter) for Pixels, teaming him with Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage and Michelle Monaghan in an action film about video game nerds hired to stop classic game characters from taking over the city. Sounds awful, but at least it sounds awful in a new and unique way.
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