George Clooney’s lack of promotion for ‘The American’ won the box office


These are some additional photos of George Clooney and Elisabetta Canalis last Thursday. This paparazzi-friendly photo op was pretty much the only “promotion” Clooney did as an actor to promote The American, which came out last Wednesday. He didn’t do any big interviews, no magazine profiles, no premieres, no film festivals. It was just some pap photos, an appearance at the Emmys to pick up the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, and lots of commercials for the film. That’s it. And he won the weekend box office! CB and I thought The American was going to tank, and I really though Machete would do much better (it came in second). However, according to Deadline Hollywood, it’s not all good news:

1. The American (Focus Features) NEW [2,823 Theaters] Opened Wed
Friday $3.8M, Saturday $4.9M, 3-Day Weekend $13.3M, Est 4-Day Holiday $16.1M, Est Cume $19.2M

This is the way a Clooney picture should be sold from now on. Even though early exits show that attendance was partly driven by the “George Clooney factor”, he just can’t muster wide domestic appeal even if he is still a big name on the international scene. Focus Features marketed Clooney’s The American to his core +35 adult audience as the more cerebral and sophisticated choice that was a counterprogramming alternative to the summer’s mindless crap. (Focus did the same with 2005′s The Constant Gardener.) Problem is, moviegoers didn’t like what they saw: the CinemaScore was a poor “D-”. Focus execs say Control helmer Anton Corbijn’s performance exceeded internal projections which undoubtedly it did. But a star of Clooney’s status should be able to muster a better 6-day opening than just $16.1M — and didn’t.

[From Deadline Hollywood]

I kind of think that an estimated 6-day opening of $19 million with absolutely no exertion is still kind of awesome – it speaks to Clooney’s die-hard fan base, and also the wisdom of the adult moviegoer. Of course, there are still questions: why did Clooney not do anything for the film? Lainey at LaineyGossip is wondering aloud if there’s some kind of story/gossip to go along with it, but there’s always the possibility that though reviewers didn’t hate the film, Clooney knew he made a dud and he wanted people to forget it.




Clooney & Canalis on September 2, 2010. Credit: Fame & WENN.

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46 Responses to “George Clooney’s lack of promotion for ‘The American’ won the box office”

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  1. Dhavy says:

    I can’t believe horseface is still around

    Maybe a lot of people didn’t go to the movies because of the holiday?

  2. mln says:

    I once heard him say that after the failure of Leatherheads he decided not to over promote movies this was years ago. Basically he said he was at a point where a movie could sink or swim on its own merits. I am going to look for the quote.

  3. lisa says:


    The American opened 2 days before the other films. And in 6 days it pulled less then 20 million.

    People can spin that all they want. What does it say About the Clooney appeal if in 6 days he can’t make 20 million..When if another supposed A lister male star didn’t pull that in a weekend that would be called a BOMB.. George gets too many free passes. His movies don’t pull big BO.. so all the A list talk needs to be shelved until he can show he has earned the title. And being the critics darling..which it seems is his main focus should not matter..

    Most of his big BO has come with the help of other male stars..

    The American is not a just proved how horrible the other films it was up against were.. PLUS non of them had big names..And it he could not win the weekend.. well fill in the blank.

  4. geenie says:

    Some reviewers are saying the movie is a snoozer. Apparently, it’s not really a ‘thriller,’ like the trailer makes it out to be. I think I’ll wait for the DVD, if maybe.

    Clooney is overrated, just like his buddy Pitt.

    Believe it or not, I had fun watching Angie Jolie’s and Tom Cruise’s summer films. Their movie story lines, of course, were unrealistic but they had you on the edge of your seat and were fun: Salt and Knight and Day.

    The summer movie selections this year sucked. Not the greatest.

    Oh, and I’m pissed off about all the enthusiastic reviews that The Expendables got. I went to see it and it was unbearable. Just a bad movie. What the hell!!!

  5. Fluffy Kitten Tail says:

    It isn’t that big of a hit considering it’s a Holiday weekend.

  6. whitedaisy says:

    TOTALLY agree with Lisa.
    And I am becoming cynical with regard to Rotten Tomatoes…..
    The critics used to be spot on with the quality of a film and have been overly forgiving in reviews lately; maybe they believe their jobs are in jeopardy if movies continue to tank and people don’t go to see them.
    They would be correct of course but all this does is undermine the site’s credibility as a “go to” for an unbiased review
    ….I don’t know….

  7. Marce Perkins says:

    Most boring movie ever. 2 hours of close ups of him and him assembling guns. He should go back to t.v.

  8. Solveig says:

    It’s a Corbijn movie, and I’m sure Clooney knew it wouldn’t hit the box office and made millions, it’s not an action movie, I guess. Probably it’s one of those introspective, deep (self-indugent) films Corbijn seems to love a lot to make.

  9. mslewis says:

    Being #1 at the box office is overrated, but that’s what people seem to look at. A movie with a supposedly A-list star that earns less than $20M during a 6-day weekend is a bomb in anybody’s book. The fact that Clooney gets a pass is beyond me. In fact, Clooney hasn’t had a real hit in YEARS when he doesn’t have Brad Pitt with him. And, what kind of actor doesn’t do publicity for his movies? Everybody does PR for a movie. The studio should be furious with Clooney and his arrogance!!

  10. canadianchick says:

    Was going to see it in the cinema, perhaps I’ll wait for ppv, thanks for the heads up.

  11. BethL says:

    I’m baffled how anybody could call a $13-$16 million opening great for 3 and 4 days, especially for an A-lister. It was a bomb no matter how it’s spun. Although there were no interviews, every other commercial was an ad for his movie. I doubt studios will let him do this in the future.

  12. California Surfer says:

    Maybe people are just way sick of seeing the same people in the same movies. Lately I’m getting into the foreign flics – Grandma and I saw South of Wawa last night and it is awesome.

  13. Shy says:

    He does one boring dud after another. I don’t remember when was the last time that George was in something interesting. Up in the air was only for awards and was boring. And i can’t believe American made so much money. Even watching that trailer made me depressed.

  14. rachel says:

    Clooney is a B or C-list actor. Not an A-list.
    He is a bad actor and can’t open a movie on his only name. He always need the presence of Pitt or Damon to do big BO. This man is over-rated. He doesn’t deserve a free pass…but again he will have. sigh

  15. truthSF says:


    Even watching that trailer made me depressed.

    And here I thought I was getting depressed for no reason while watching that trailer. But of course, Clooney strikes again.

  16. Aqua says:

    He did say he doesn’t like to go on talk or entertainment shows to promote his movies but what I don’t understand is last year he promoted three movies The Fantastic Mr. Fox,Up In The Air,and The Men Who Stare At Goats.He walked a lot of Red Carpet Premiers then and The Men Who Stare At Goats premiered at TIFF and it didn’t do well at the BO.Even though The American was targeted for the 35+ crowd a lot of people are being much more picky about what they want to see,seeing as people may not have the money that they use to to spend on movies and such. They want to see a sure thing before they spend $13 to get in and another $13 for eats. I think they are very few stars that can pull in big numbers at the BO nowadays and I think studios need to be more realistic as to how much money a movie can make and how much star power certain stars may have to bring to a movie.Stars make way to much money in my opinion for it seems like very little in return. I know most money is made for the studio and stars through DVD sales and rentals but,the whole industry needs a bit of a change, they spend way to much money making. promoting etc on a film but I guess if the studios are willing to pay it and they obviously have the money or they wouldn’t do it,so why not.I think studios will make anything in the hope that the one movie they make will be the one that public will catch on to and make it a hit.Side note Machete did better than I thought it would,it gave The American a run for its money.

  17. Fluffy Kitten Tail says:

    I will say this about Clooney, he is a way better actor than Pitt any day of the week, and the other benefit, he doesn;t have an annoying lisp.

  18. Aqua says:

    I said it on another post The American will be #1 for this weekend only. The movie had no competition at all this weekend.

  19. snowbunny says:

    The reviews aren’t that good and he did promote three movies last fall after Leatherheads. I also remember him promoting ‘The Good German’ and that made about 1 to 2 million. If you believe in something you promote it, if it is just a paycheck you take it and run. Obviously for him it is just a paycheck.

  20. Tammy says:

    Machete came in third for the weekend boxoffice. Takers was second.

  21. geenie says:

    I’m still baffled at all the Oscar nominations ‘Up In The Air’ got. That movie was crap, crap, crap. Just Hollywood heads licking Clooney’s ass. I think the Oscar’s are full of it. They always overlook other great films and actors.

  22. geenie says:

    I’m happily going to go see Machete tonight. I’m actually excited!

  23. OC lady says:

    Considering he put no effort into promoting this, it’s amazing it made that much. But it’s not a hit when you consider that Takers and the Exorcist rip-off movie opened better last

    I think the whole A-list thing needs to be reconsidered. When you think about it, Clooney, Barrymore, Aniston and the whole lot of them are all hype. They don’t deliver at the box office. At least, Clooney picks interesting scripts, directs, and has an Oscar. So, he had his moment. But, for most of the so-called A list, they have no reason to call themselves A-listers anymore. Your name isn’t bringing in the dollars. It’s only if you happen to be in a film people want to see anyways. Time for some of these over-hyped, over-priced “BIG stars” to pack it up, in my opinion.

  24. Abbs says:

    Actually, this movie probably won’t financially bomb. If the production budget was as reported about $20M, then it only needs to gross about $40M at the global box office to earn back the production budget. Figure even if it tops out in the US around $25M, it should be able to get another $15-$20M out of the global box office at least (emphasize *should* and *at least*). Then throw in the money it will make off of back end sales for TV, DVD, secondary viewing venues, etc. as well as the much lower than normal marketing costs and I bet they at least break even. And I would bet everyone went into a movie like this thinking break even rather than huge profits.

  25. carrie says:

    great box-office for a movie with a very unappealing trailer(a depressive killer in a moody movie)

  26. lala says:

    He looks really good in these pictures!

  27. Sally says:

    Poor thing looks like a bad mixture of Cindy Crawford and Alessandra Ambrosio, if that’s possible (and without the alliteration). Plus, I hate her shoes with a passion.

  28. whitedaisy says:

    I think that OC lady brings up a very good point:
    What is the definition of A-list?
    Does it need to be redefined?

  29. OhCamille! says:

    Clooneys’ draw is solid, no matter the movie. Movies have long legs these days and the box office is not the only gauge for its’ success. GC has been around a long time and has incredible staying power. He looks fantastic and has very little scandal on his resume.
    Here on the East Coast, the weekend brought beautiful weather, not a movie weekend. I think the people that use Clooney know that.
    He’s been very effective in keeping his personal f*ckery at a minimum or secret altogether to protect his public image/box office and I bet he makes his investors lots of money despite what the ticket sales report.
    I think he’s our present day Cary Grant and I like having him in the Hollywood lineup.

  30. Shy says:

    I agree that he probably saw that movie is not good. And wanted it quietly to go as soon as possible. And that was the right decision. Who will remember American in two weeks? It will just slowly die in the box-office. The one thing i don’t understand. He READ the script. What was he thinking?

  31. Camille says:

    Looks like I am going to have to change my name (even though I have been posting here for ages). :(

  32. Isa says:

    Wouldn’t he be obligated by his contract to promote the movie?

  33. Andrew says:

    No, he’s not obligated to, unless it’s specifically in this particular contract. Jack Nicholson hasn’t done any promotion in three decades and has recommended that strategy to others. He’s made studios over 3 billion globally in his career and, as a result, himself millions.

  34. Vee says:

    I heard from 2 different friends that this movie is awful, just horrible. I won’t even rent it.

  35. Aqua says:

    I think their are a lot of so called A-listers that should be down graded. Maybe it’s time for some of them to retire and let the next generation have their chance.
    Their are only so many certain types of movies one can star in before everyone becomes bored with it all.

  36. The Bobster says:

    $13 million for a Labor Day opening? Big whoop. Movie goers must’ve stayed home.

  37. alexandra says:

    I cannot say enough about what a piece of steaming s#it this movie is. I would recommend this movie to people who suffer of insominia. Enough said.

  38. Hey! Thanks for such an easy to read informative article. I’ve been trying to explain the same thing to my homies but I think it’s better if I just email them the link to this site instead.

  39. Elm says:


    Thanks for the heads-up on the movie, which I will pass on – but it looks as though Clooney is expected to walk the red carpet for the London Film Festival – see links below and

  40. crtb says:

    This movie was BAD!!! It was sooooooo
    boring. The kind of movie you sleep through. Don’t ask me what it’s about cause I can’t tell you.

  41. Tim says:

    I really disagree with some comment’s here… I like Clooney in that he take’s chances with his film project’s. OUT OF SITE is a really good film. Why it didn’t do well at box office is a mystery. Ask anyone who has seen it and they will say “Yeah that was a good movie.” I don’t like some of his movie”s. Leatherhead’s is just… I tried watching it on pay TV and it’s uinteresting as hell. It was marketed as a comedy about early Pro Football league and there was almost no scene’s showing them play football. The American is being wisely marketed as an assassin film with all the action in trailer. When it’s actually a slow mediative character art film. NO wonder audience’s went and saw it hated it. SOOO my point is to sa Clooney can’t open a film is ludicrous. IF the American was really about an assassin in the Jason Bourne style of filmmaking. It would have been a huge hhit. Conversely Ithin Clooney would be a perfect American James Bond. However tht’s not whhat Clooney is interested in making. He already has money and fame. He has other interest’s and for that I give him kudo’s.

  42. Jacob Estes says:

    I actually watched this movie, and enjoyed it immensely. It was a restrained, suspenseful, and very well executed story. I’m going to see it again tomorrow.

    If you haven’t seen it and would like an idea of what it’s like, think about the scene in Quantum of Solace when Bond goes into the hotel room and is ambushed. He kills the guy on the balcony. That moment on the balcony is a great example of the dominant mood in The American.

    Quantum of Solace made more than the American has so far on its opening day in North America alone. But, Quantum was garbage. It was an enormous piece of shit sprinkled with squandered potential.

    The take at the box is not a useful measure for the quality of a movie. Audiences (american or otherwise) love bullshit. Anybody who reads about this movie and then says “thanks for the headsup” and decides not to see it is ignorant.

    If you liked Heat and No Country for Old Men, give this movie a chance. If nothing else, you’ll get the rare opportunity to enjoy a vacant theater.

  43. Elisabetta's To Blame! says:

    I will see it free when the library gets it.

    The biggest problem with the movie is the book it came from … “A Very Private Gentleman”. It was a boring read, but great to help you to sleep at night. It was cod piece for lovers of the Italian countryside, that’s it. Even in the bolk, you think something awesome is going to happen and it trails on that then the disappointing end comes. I think whoever he has hired to read potential books-into-scripts should be shot. The Men Who Stare At Goats was worse. True story, told by the completely wrong person and then optioned into an even worse script. Clooney needs to demote or fire a few people at Smokehouse Pictures.

    The other thing with it being #1 on the absolute worst movie weekend of each year? yawn! That’s not saying much, especially if this is his first #1 with him as the sole lead. I think that Marce was right in saying he needs to go back to doing television. He has had some great film roles, but it seems the more freedom he has in filmmaking, the worse his pictures do. He’s a good director, though. I’d like to see more of that.

    And to the guy who said Clooney leaves most of his f*ckery out of the public eye …. ummmm, just who do you think the ugly wench is in the photos above? She is another Sarah Larson … both hired by team Clooney to pretend to be his girlfriends and to show up with him very conveniently at public dinners with other peeps and on the red carpet. Yeah, sounds like love. And as it turns out, Sarah Larson was an escort and Elisabetta is a nude titty calendar “model” and a former thong dancer on some cheesey Italian news programming. Oh yeah … and both of them conveniently landed agents and tiny stupid parts from being contract girlfriends of his. So if you think his fans are die-hards, than you are mistaken. A lot of his fans have abandoned ship because his fake relationships keep getting weirder and weirder. They aren’t even believable, especially when you see them fighting on the red carpet and outside of restaurants and crap. Besides, who, aside from gays and emotionally retarded men, do you see having to pay women to pretend to be their girlfriends? If there’s any reason BEYOND stinker movie choices and overly vocalized political opinions that his former “A-list” identity is tanking, it IS because he has made a circus out of his “personal” life. If he ever does marry a real love, she will be in for a surprise because now that he has baited the papparazzi to follow him everywhere, he and his future wife won’t ever be left alone. – Or maybe even the opposite will happen. They will pay her no mind whatsoever, and in that case, I guess this was a “smart” move, these bimbos Sarah and Elisabetta.

    Besides, who honestly would want to be caught dead with a female Steven Tyler look-alike? This chick is nasty! Her old photos were so photoshopped it’s unreal. She’s fug. And he’s getting creepy and gross.

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