Perhaps there is a Lover’s Day lesson to be gleaned from Bruce Willis’ weekend box office triumph: Love your base, and your base will love you.
Opening on Valentine’s Day, “A Good Day to Die Hard,” the fifth installment in the star’s signature action movie franchise, finished number one at the box office for President’s Day weekend, with a three-day gross of $25 million, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, a projected five-day opening total of $38.3 million.
Last week, we charted in our “Gun-Rights-Stance/Box-Office-Appeal Correlator” how Mr. Willis’ fellow action movie totems Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone had publicly bowed to the anti-gun mood of the moment — and promptly bombed at the box office in their new outings, “The Last Stand” and “Bullet to the Head,” respectively. Hmmm. Fair to conjecture the pair had undermined their tough-guy appeal and alienated their macho fan bases by hanging gun rights backers out to dry?
A staunch Mr. Willis, meanwhile, had reaffirmed his support for the Second Amendment while promoting “Good Day,” thus offering a convenient experimental control: How would the stalwart fare in his new star vehicle, relative to his accomodationist rivals?
The returns are in, and as illustrated by our updated Correlator, Mr. Willis’ grosses far exceeded those of Mr. Schwarzenegger and Mr. Stallone. Not that we’re gloating. Much.
Granted, the bar was set low, as the latter two stumbled to near-career-worst openings ($6.3 million for Mr. Schwarzenegger’s “The Last Stand,” $4.5 million for Mr. Stallone’s “Bullet to the Head”).
Of course, even relevant political missteps by stars are at best one factor among many affecting movie box office returns — one such being the quality of, you know, the movie.
But whether you’re opening on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year, it’s seldom a good idea to kiss off your fans.
Blow them kisses instead. Give it a try — they might let you win next time, Rambo. And, Arnold? Maybe they’ll be back.