Monday, 15 June 2009


It's been a hard weekend for Eddie Murphy. His new movie, Imagine That [Paramount] opened with only $5,7 million ( It is #6 behind Land of the Lost (with Will Ferrell), Night at the Museum 2, the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta, Up, and The Hangover - whose French title is Very Bad Trip, which is an implicit acknowledgement of the presence of Very Bad Things somewhere in the movie's DNA.

« Why studios still cast Eddie Murphy as the lead in a live action film is beyond me, even if it's a family film » writes Nikki Finke in Deadline Hollywood Daily. « Worse, it's now a trend that Eddie's movies can't open to more than a $6M weekend. (Remember last summer's other Eddie bomb Meet Dave?) » she adds.

Well, your humble servant is certainly not a Box office expert but the Shrek franchise apart I read on imdb that two years ago Norbit [Paramount] - Murphy's antepenultimate non-Shrek film - opened with $34,195,434 for an estimated budget of $60,000,000. On the other hand, yes, Meet Dave [Fox] opened in July 2008 with $5,251,918 for the same estimated budget of $60,000,000. Worldwide (Domestic + Foreign) the movie got $50,650,079 (

So is there a "Curse of Pluto Nash"? From the infamous The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Eddie Murphy's 2002 deserved bomb? Murphy is number 4 on Forbes' list of Hollywood's Top-Earning actors for 2008 ( Call that an effect of "Donkey business" if you wish but, to a commenter of DHD who asked « Why do they keep paying Eddie Murphy $20 million when his movies are bombing? », another answers wisely that « Video and the other secondary and tertiary markets are where most movies make their dough ».

This commenter is absolutely right: movie theaters is the window of the cinema industry, it is what Haute Couture is to the business of clothes. Kids of the 21st century adore Eddie Murphy and they watch him on DVD or television. My nephews keep asking me if I've watched Meet Dave... Not yet but I've seen this masterpiece called Coming to America (1988) for the 150th time last evening. I've not seen Norbit (definitely not my kind of humour) either and I believe that the Shrek franchise should have stopped with Shrek 2. But from what I've seen in the trailer, Imagine That looks like an enjoyable family movie.

Bad marketing? Does the studios prefer to invest the minimum on the promotion of Murphy's movies? Bad weekend for another Night at the museum wannabe? The remake of the The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (with Washington in another Inside Man job) opened with $25,000,000 for an estimated budget of $100 million. It's a fact that US movies heavily rely on foreign markets these days. According to Nikki Finke Sony now must depend on strong overseas sales for Pelham.

Imagine that arrives in France on September 30 with a great French title (Dans ses rêves/In her dreams), which is appreciable as so many American movies keep their titles untranslated in France. Without any doubt, Eddie Murphy's career here owes a lot to his main French dubbing voice: Mauritanian director, actor and dubbing artist Med Hondo.

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