If Channing Tatum is the breakout star of 2012, Taylor Kitsch is like the anti-Tatum. Savages is opening “soft,” according to Nikki Finke, pulling in just $15M in its opening weekend. Given that Savages only cost $45M to make, this isn’t the worst thing in the world, taken on its own.
Unfortunately for Kitsch, this dud comes on the heels of Battleship, in which he starred, which made just $64M on a $209M budget. And that film came on the heels of John Carter, in which he starred, which grossed just $73M on a $250M budget. Box office poison.
Compare that to Channing Tautm. His currently-in-theaters Magic Mike has grossed $76M thus far on a $7M budget. His last film, 21 Jump Street, grossed $138M on a $42M budget. The Vow? $125M on a $30M budget. Box office gold.
The funny thing about this, of course, is that none of the six films mentioned above is a “Taylor Kitsch” or “Channing Tatum” movie. This is how “movie stars” are made: Audiences say “I’m bored, let’s go see the new Denzel/Cruise/Cage/Arnold flick.” This is why those guys command eight-figure paychecks that studio heads cut without breaking a sweat.
But I seriously doubt audiences, while contemplating the aforementioned pictures, thought “Hey, I’m bored, let’s go see the new Channing Tatum movie” or “Hey, I’m bored, let’s go to the theater but make sure we skip that Taylor Kitsch flick, he’s terrible.” John Carter and Battleship were likely seen by audiences as “stupid big budget popcorn films” not “Taylor Kitsch films.” If Savages is anything, it’s an “Oliver Stone film.” Similarly, Magic Mike isn’t a “Channing Tatum film”; it’s “the male stripper movie”; The Vow was “that new Nicholas Sparks movie”‘; and 21 Jump Street was either “that new Jonah Hill film” or “that teen cop remake.”
Unfortunately for Kitsch, in the weird world that is Hollywood, he’s now likely untouchable. No one’s handing him a franchise any time soon. If Disney does decide that a John Carter sequel makes sense based on foreign grosses, he’ll likely have to beg to be brought back on—he certainly won’t be getting any Robert Downey Jr.-style $50M bonus. Tatum, meanwhile, is the hottest commodity in Hollywood, a “proven” star who puts butts in seats. I’d be shocked if he didn’t get $10M for his next picture.