The Best Movie of the Spring Flopped and It’s Your Fault (2024)

Industry

SO MAD AT YOU

We can’t have nice things. Ryan Gosling’s “The Fall Guy” was a riotous rom-com. In just 17 days, it’s already on digital. Sure, you can watch it now. But there’s a future cost.

The Best Movie of the Spring Flopped and It’s Your Fault (2)

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Universal Pictures

Considering that one of my greatest joys in life is to smugly shame people, this should be a joyous moment. And yet… I feel so sad. Exasperated. You know that phrase, “I’m not mad, just disappointed?” The bozo who came up with that clearly had made lots of people angry and was trying to make himself feel better about it. No, I want all of you to feel bad because, frankly, you deserve it.

Earlier this week, the spectacular Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt action rom-com The Fall Guy was made available for rent and purchase on digital platforms. On the one hand, yay: People will have easier access to what, in my mind, is the best movie of the spring. (Sorry to Challengers! No offense, I Saw the TV Glow!) On the other hand: The should-be blockbuster is available to rent so wildly soon after its release date because not enough people saw it in theaters—and that will have ramifications that reverberate throughout the industry and, more importantly, my life and its happiness.

Now that I’ve evolved into my final form as a finger-wagging dad-type, I might as well keep going with the tired phrases: Actions have consequences, people. This is why we can’t have nice things.

The Fall Guy hit theaters on May 3, less than three weeks ago, armed with reviews that movie studio execs would offer their firstborn for and following a buzz-making premiere at the SXSW festival in March. It boasted Gosling as the leading man, after a year in which he was arguably the biggest and most popular movie star in the world, thanks to his work as Ken in Barbie and an epic Oscars musical performance. Blunt was the leading lady, herself a pivotal part of the other half of the Barbenheimer phenomenon and also an Oscar nominee.

Theoretically, you pack all of those elements into a cash cannon and watch the dollar bills fly. Did the money dispenser get jammed or something?

    The box office was abysmal, especially for a film that cost $140 million. Hopes that ecstatic word of mouth would lead to, at least, a robust longer run in theaters clearly were just that: hopes. A shocking 17 days after its release, it’s now available on digital. This was supposed to be the film that heralded the start of a huge summer movie season. Instead, at least commercially, it’s a whimpered warning of disaster ahead.

    I have to admit that I don’t often understand why people do or don’t watch certain things. Some gems are ignored. Some turds are confusingly embraced. But everything about this film seemed as much of a sure-thing as there could be these days.

    Gosling plays a stuntman named Colt whose career—and romantic fling with a camera operator named Jodie (Blunt)—ends abruptly when he breaks his back in a stunt gone wrong. Eighteen months later, the former lovers reunite on a film set where Jodie is getting her big break as a director. They work through their acrimonious baggage while also weathering a murder cover-up subplot that ensnares Colt and Jodie’s movie production, a meta plot twist that’s a riot to ride with.

    The Best Movie of the Spring Flopped and It’s Your Fault (3)

    Universal Pictures

    The film is the answer to so many complaints.

    “Every movie these days is based on a superhero or existing IP. I’m tired of it.” This one is not.

    “They don’t make movies that are fun for everyone anymore.” This one is the epitome of a four-quadrant movie.

    “I miss when movies had actual movie stars.” Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt would like to say hi.

    “They don’t make great romantic comedies like they used to.” Well, they do. It was this. And you didn’t go see it.

      The chemistry between Gosling and Blunt is an It Factor that rarely happens in a film of this scale. Speaking of scale, the onslaught of stunts—most of which were practical—are more impressive than what’s in most Marvel movies. In fact, The Fall Guy set a world record with one of its set pieces, for most times a car rolls over in a film.

      There is also: a needle drop where Ryan Gosling listens to Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” while crying; a parakeet that dances along to DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win;” references to Notting Hill and Love, Actually; a dog doing stunts; a split-screen sequence that’s as impressive as the stunts; a karaoke/car chase hybrid scene; and a shot of Ryan Gosling emerging from water in slow motion while wearing a white tank top and jeans with the Sydney Opera House behind him. (I gasped, “My God,” when I first saw it.)

      There are myriad barriers that contribute to people not going to cinemas to see a film. Yet… sometimes they do. They did last year, in droves, for Barbie and Oppenheimer. They do it for superhero movies all the time. The Fall Guy was exciting because it was an original premise and it was good. It was supposed to be a hit. Then, more original, great movies would be put in development for us to eventually see, curing our comic-book franchise fatigue.

      The quick move to digital is a sign of a lack of faith that The Fall Guy would be able to, even with great buzz, get butts in seats. It’s also a sign of how the industry will view the film—as a failure—and retreat from investing in more like it. That’s a shame!

      The Best Movie of the Spring Flopped and It’s Your Fault (4)

      Universal Pictures

      I have no doubt that once people see the film, they’ll love it. Do I think they’ll shell out $19.99 to rent it, more than movie tickets cost in most markets? Not necessarily. But I will feel vindicated when I’m flying Delta cross-country and The Fall Guy is playing on every in-flight movie screen. Where were all of you when it mattered?

      No one really knows what to make of the business anymore. The theatrical market is erratic. Studios’ whims are indiscernible. And, clearly, what excites potential moviegoers remains a great mystery.

      So I try to stay rooted in what I do know, and keep delusional hope that it matters. The Fall Guy is a great movie, and the future I want is one where more movies are great again.

      The Best Movie of the Spring Flopped and It’s Your Fault (2024)
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