Fans in Maysville were wild about George Clooney and his new movie, Leatherheads, at a March 24 premier. But moviegoers across the country were cooler to the comedy about the early days of the National Football League. Copyrighted LexGo photo by Charles Bertram.
George Clooney's Leatherheads was all the rage here in Central and Northern Kentucky for a week when the star brought his movie back home for a little Hollywood on the Ohio River. But the film failed to generate the same excitement across the country as ticket buyers elected to see MIT students beat the system in Vegas, handing 21 its second consecutive weekend box office victory.
The ominous signs started gathering Friday for Leatherheads, Clooney's third directing effort and first bona fide comedy. Though Gorgeous George sat through a complimentary review from the Today show's Gene Shalit, most critics were tougher on the flick, calling it labored and a fumble.
Jim Emerson, writing for Roger Ebert's website, was a bit more complimentary, mainly of Clooney, essentially saying that the star kept Leatherheads in the game all by himself. And the Los Angeles Times' Carina Chocano called it charming and wondered why there aren't more movies like it. I was sort of in the same boat, appreciating the old-timey fun but thinking it was too long and comically out of sync.
Moviegoers just didn't seem interested in huge numbers, as the flick took in an estimated $13.5 million, just under a safety behind 21's $15.1 million, and a hair ahead of the Abigail Breslin-Jodie Foster family flick, Nim's Island. Yahoo Movies and other sources report that when official numbers are released today, Leatherheads could drop to third, behind Nim.
Industry experts seemed to attribute Leatherheads' fumble to its appeal to older moviegoers, who are often a bit harder to lure out of the house, while college-oriented 21 was right in the cinema strike zone -- wrong sport, I know.
UPDATE: When the official numbers came in, Leatherheads ($12.68 million) did indeed fall behind Nim's Island ($13.21 million), making the Clooney pic No. 3 for the weekend.