Here's a piece
in the Hollywood Reporter
by John DeFore about how after Pixels
Adam Sandler is finished. Okay, it's been pretty clear his charmed career is in trouble. But right off the bat we get this:
Adam Sandler's name on a film was never a guarantee of yuks or bucks, but once upon a time [...] it inspired more hope than dread.
I don't remember a time when Sandler's name on a movie inspired hope, but that's about taste. On the other hand, how can a writer in one of the top show biz periodicals claim the Sandler name wasn't a guarantee of bucks? For over a decade he was the most consistent earner of any comedy star, perhaps of any movie star. He would occasionally try something different, and those films generally weren't big, but as long as he made an "Adam Sandler" film--which he not only starred in, but often wrote or produced--it was the surest bet in Hollywood.
Let's review his career. After a couple of misfires, he established himself in the mid-90s with a couple of low-budget minor hits, Billy Madison
and Happy Gilmore
. Then, in 1998, he had a solid hit, The Wedding Singer
, which grossed $80 million (all figures domestic). From this point on, he was unstoppable.
His next two films, The Waterboy
and Big Daddy
, in 1998 and 1999, were huge, both grossing over $160 million. And while his budgets were inching up, they were still relatively low. However, his next film was a rare misfire, Little Nicky
. It grossed just under $40 million, while it was Sandler's first truly big budget, at over $80 million.
He quickly regained his footing, though, and from 2002 to 2011, every single "Adam Sandler" film made over $100 million: Mr. Deeds, Anger Management, 50 First Dates, The Longest Yard, Click, I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, You Don't Mess With The Zohan, Bedtime Stories, Grown Ups
and Just Go With It
. They had to gross a lot, because Sandler, being a sure thing, demanded a lot of money, and his budgets were now averaging around $80 million.
Meanwhile, every now and then he tried to stretch, and in every case the audience rejected the attempt. Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish, Reign Over Me
--none of them made even half of what an "Adam Sandler" film made. Even when he teamed up with hot comedy director Judd Apatow and co-starred with Seth Rogen in Funny People
the result was a financial fizzle.
But that was okay. It was the "Adam Sandler" films that paid the bills. In recent years, though, even they've
proved to be iffy propositions. Jack And Jill
in 2011 made $74 million. That's My Boy
in 2012 made half as much. For big-budget comedies, these numbers aren't acceptable. He had a bit of a comeback in 2013 with Grown Ups 2
, but that was a sequel, pre-sold, and was a distinct fall-off from the first Grown Ups
Last year he reteamed with Drew Barrymore in Blended
. Their previous two films, The Wedding Singer
and 50 First Dates
, were hits, but this one grossed only $46 million. It's worth noting, however, that the budget was only $40 million, half of a normal Sandler budget. Clearly Hollywood had caught on, and wasn't going to pay as much for his tarnished brand.
probably sounded like a good idea, but apparently (based on the critics--I haven't seen it) it doesn't deliver, and looks like it'll be another disappointment. So perhaps his career has turned a corner. Pretty much every film comedian eventually runs out of steam as the audience gets tired of his antics and moves on to the latest thing. But even if Sandler never has another hit, he's had one of the biggest careers of any clown ever.
PS Speaking of entertainment writers with bad math skills, look at Pete Hammond
on the BBC list of top American films
In a comprehensive new poll of the 100 Greatest American Films of all time, released this week by BBC Culture, only a measly 12 Academy Award winning Best Pictures turn up at all, and only 8 of them in the top 75
Is he kidding? 12 out of 100 is 8%, a whopping huge number. The ratio of all American films (not even including unknown indies) to Best Picture winners is what--a 100 to 1, a 1000 to 1? And yet they managed to take one out of eight slots available. And quite a few others on the list were nominated for Best Picture, or won an Academy Award in a different category. Also, a few of the films on the list, like Birth Of A Nation
and The Gold Rush
, were released before the Oscars were given out, and might have won the top award if given a chance.
If I heard 12 out of the top 100 of an all-time list won the Best Picture Oscar, my first reaction would be what a rotten list that so ridiculously favors Hollywood favorites.