This past weekend's box office was a good one, as long your name was Jumanji: The Next Level. The action-comedy sequel didn't simply win the weekend, as it was expected to do, it also did so by out-grossing expectations and bringing in $60 million domestically. However, the much bigger story of the weekend is the movie that brought in a much smaller take, Clint Eastwood's Richard Jewell.
The film, following the man who was erroneously accused of the 1996 Atlantic Olympic Park bombing, was expected to bring in around $10 million during its opening weekend, but the film instead struggled to make half that. With a $5 million opening weekend, it marks the worst opening weekend for a film directed by Clint Eastwood since 1980.
As THR reports, you'd have to go back to 1980's Bronco Billy to find a movie directed by Clint Eastwood that had a worse start than Richard Jewell. That film only saw $3.7 million in ticket sales in its opening, and that's in unadjusted numbers. If you were to account for inflation, the Bronco Billy number is actually much higher than what Richard Jewell just brought in.
For comparison, The Mule, Clint Eastwood's last directorial effort, which opened on the same weekend last year, brought in over $17 million. The Mule starred Eastwood as well rather than simply being directed by him, but Richard Jewell had the benefit of being based on a true story which many in the perspective audience would be familiar with.
Certainly, nobody was expecting Richard Jewell to set box office records, but it's become common place to see a potential awards contender coming from the man at this time of year and you'd expect the audience that has been around for those films to show up for this one as well.
It's unclear what the difference here is. It's possible that some of the controversy surrounding the film, specifically around the portrayal of Olivia Wilde's character, reporter Kathy Scruggs, dampened the spirits of some of those who might otherwise have checked out the film. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the paper where Scruggs worked, has publicly condemned the film for the portrayal of its late reporter.
With an estimated budget of $40 million it's now going to be tough, if not impossible, for Richard Jewell to be a financial success. A movie like this with so specifically an American story, is unlikely to have a great deal of international appeal, meaning the domestic audience was going to make or break the film.
And with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on the blockbuster front, and other potential major awards contenders like Uncut Gems, Little Women, or Bombshell going into wider release on that front, it seems pretty unlikely that Richard Jewell is going to get much more attention going forward.