Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’ bombed at the box office, oh well

AFI FEST 2019 Presented By Audi "Richard Jewell" Premiere Arrivals

Richard Jewell might not have been the bomber, but Richard Jewell certainly bombed! That’s my awful word play for the day, I’m done now. As we discuss last week, no one wanted to see Clint Eastwood’s bizarre take on the tragedy of Richard Jewell, a tragedy where Eastwood (who directed the film) blamed the entire catastrophe on the FBI and an Atlanta Journal-Constitution journalist named Kathy Scruggs. Eastwood, screenwriter Billy Ray and Olivia Wilde all seemed to be fine with smearing the now-deceased Kathy Scruggs, all to half-fictionalize the smearing of Jewell. Anyway, no surprise, no one wanted to see the movie. It was one of the worst openings of Clint’s career:

Clint Eastwood might end up with a lump of box office coal after “Richard Jewell” sputtered in its domestic debut. Despite critical acclaim, Warner Bros.’ drama about the security guard falsely accused by the media for playing a part in the 1996 Olympics bombing ignited with a dismal $5 million from 2,502 theaters.

It’s a disappointing result for Eastwood, marking one of the worst nationwide openings of the 89-year-old’s directorial career. His only movie to endure a worse fate was 1980’s “Billy Bronco” with $3.7 million. Should “Richard Jewell” come in ahead of expectations by even $200,000, that would propel it just barely above 1997’s “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” ($5.2 million) and 1999’s “True Crime” ($5.2 million) in terms of Eastwood’s inaugural outings.

“It started out with so much promise in terms of awards season buzz,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore. “You’ve got a really high-profile filmmaker with a movie that had a lot of acclaim.”

Eastwood’s films don’t traditionally have huge opening weekends — his strongest being 2014’s “American Sniper” ($89 million) followed by 2016’s “Sully” ($35 million) — but tend to benefit from strong multiples. Likewise, December releases usually see smaller starts and can enjoy long legs during the holiday season. Heading into the weekend, “Richard Jewell” was expected to earn $10 million. Given the crowded market, sources estimate that “Richard Jewell” could tap out in North America with $25 million to $30 million and might result in tens of millions in theatrical losses. The movie cost $45 million to produce.

[From Variety]

Hahahahaha. What’s weird is that… I actually do think that Clint Eastwood is a “good director” from a technical standpoint. He knows how to put together a film, he understands the language of filmmaking, he keeps things very simple for everyone involved, and actors always say that he’s lovely to them and that his sets always have a really nice vibe. Where Clint struggles is with choosing stories or screenplays. It’s that way with his acting career too. It feels like he was trying to do a thing where he used Jewell’s story to attack the FBI and the media and… maybe people just weren’t interested.

AFI FEST 2019 - Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Richard Jewell'

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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20 Responses to “Clint Eastwood’s ‘Richard Jewell’ bombed at the box office, oh well”

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  1. ME says:

    Dude needs to know a movie needs social media buzz now a days. This movie had NONE. If it’s a good movie, word of mouth will make people want to watch it. A lot of movies don’t do well opening weekend but end up being a big hit down the road. Who knows.

  2. anon says:

    As a writer, I’m not seeing this film for this specific reason: Olivia Wilde agreeing to portray a female reporter who f***ed her source to get a scoop.

    After the work she did on Booksmart, this was an absolute failure on her part (her mother is a journo, btw) to understand what a massive slap that is to women journalists.

    This is exactly the kind of two steps forward, three steps back that women have to deal with – from other women.

    Eff that.

    • tealily says:

      While she did take the role, she obviously didn’t write it. Seems like you’re putting this squarely on her shoulders, which doesn’t seem fair. As a writer, don’t you think the writer is the one primarily responsible for this massive slap to women journalists? Or the director?

      • Anon33 says:

        Why shouldn’t she also be held responsible for taking the part? And please don’t tell me about the paucity of roles for women, blah blah, she needs to make money, blah blah. If we continue to excuse people’s questionable behavior/choices due to their desire (note the use of the word desire, not need, because I doubt she “needs” anything) to make money, where does that leave us?

      • tealily says:

        Didn’t say she shouldn’t be held responsible, said she shouldn’t be held solely — or even primarily — responsible.

        I see anon giving a woman sh-t for for “two steps forward, three steps back” lack of support for another woman while completely failing to call out the men who orchestrated this bullsh-t in the first place.

        Eff that as well.

  3. Lightpurple says:

    I’ll see a movie about the smearing of Richard Jewell when the blame is put where it belongs on terrorist Eric Rudolph, who killed people because he believed he should have the say on what women do with their own bodies

    • whatWHAT? says:

      funny how that part, the one where it’s made clear that a anti-choice, “pro-life” right-winger was responsible for all of the death and carnage, is left out.

      can’t make a movie that alienates your base, huh, Trumper?

  4. Jadedone says:

    I feel bad for Rchard Jewell who was so unfairly villinized for trying to do the right thing. I feel bad that Kathy Scruggs for being unfairly villinized in this film. I’m glad that Clint will most likely loose money off of this film

  5. Renee says:

    I saw this over the weekend. While I didn’t like the way they portrayed the female journalist, I thought the overall movie was very good. Richard Jewell was vilified by the media & the FBI. That is all true. However, I think the portrayal of Kathy Scruggs felt like an injustice and may have turned people off.

  6. zotsioltar says:

    Sucks, but I get it.

    The way Jewell was treated was shameful, but Im not sure it makes for a good movie. Guy was a hero.

  7. Eenie Googles says:

    A movie about how you can’t trust the FBI and how the media is full of lies?

    I see your game, Trumpster, and I refuse to play.

  8. Allergy says:


  9. AppleTartin says:

    This feels like Clint’s effort to help bolster Trump’s fake news narrative. Except the reporter just reported what she was told by the FBI Agent. Nothing fake about it, just lazy work by the FBI pointing the finger at the wrong man.

    Of course a right wing conservative director boils down a pioneer women in journalism to fucking for stories. Blow me over with a feather…

  10. dlc says:

    I can’t believe Clint Eastwood directed midnight in the garden of good and Evil. I loved that movie! I didn’t realize he directed Sully either, which I deeply disliked. That movie showed the crash investigators behaving like villains, being very accusatory towards Sully. I wonder if Clint just has to have bad guys and good guys in his movies, even if he has to create them. No shades of grey for him.

  11. DenG says:

    I’m surprised Kathy Bates is part of this movie. I loved Gran Torino with Eastwood as the grumpiest old man ever, but won’t be seeing any of his righteous right chicken wing stuff.

  12. SamC says:

    Issues with the movie aside, I think this is a topic that missed the window of time where people would be interested in seeing a movie about Richard Jewell. Perhaps if it came out around a major anniversary of the ’96 Olympics and bombing or even closer to the next summer games, but with all that’s going on in the world I don’t think this is something, or someone, that people have given much thought to lately. And I’m saying that as someone who lived in Atlanta during that time, was an active participant (volunteer and attendee) during those Olympics and followed the Jewel story for months.

  13. Karen says:

    Isn’t this an Appian Way production, from Leo’s production company? He’s got so many bombs outside of the films and documentaries he’s involved with himself. That Robin Hood one was bad too. What is his deal with it? Doesn’t he care if there are so many bombs? Or is there some other shady business going on that makes box office numbers irrelevant?