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Box-Office : Jack Ryan Struggling

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If Clint’s review is anything to go by, the disappointing returns on “Jack Ryan : Shadow Recruit” this past weekend mightn’t have anything to do with what cinema goers are interested in right now, or a marketing blunder, as much as it does the quality of the film.

It would seem, as Clint’s review points out, that Paramount went about rebooting their once popular ‘Jack Ryan’ film franchise – based on the books by Tom Clancy – all wrong. Instead of making another film along the same lines as the previous ones – in other words, a smart, intelligent spy thriller that didn’t spoon-feed it’s audience, nor underestimate their intelligence or proclamation to only want to see things blow up, they made a somewhat daft, simple generic action movie that was way too easy to follow, completely predictable and offered no surprises at all. And though Chris Pine – and co-stars – seemed to do a good-enough job, the character of Jack Ryan was played more like a traditional Jason Bourne-type, as opposed to the everyman from “The Hunt for Red October” or “Patriot Games”. So while Paramount might be pointing the finger at the marketing team, or some other aspect of the film for the film’s lackluster performance at the box office, it’s likely the script – which doesn’t sound like it was even close to being fit for filming – that let everyone down.

“Jack Ryan” opened to fourth place (a comedy starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart opened at number 1!) , making just over $22 domestically; yes, that figure’s not bad, but for a previously-successful film franchise like this, it should’ve been considerably higher. Paramount’s “Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters 3D” opened to similar numbers last year; it’s expected that “Ryan” might finish with a similar number to the one it did ($55m domestically).

Paramount had been working on a new Jack Ryan movie for several years, hoping to relaunch the franchise with “Star Trek”-like success (which might explain why Chris Pine was cast, but the numbers on “Ryan” suggest he’s not a draw-card… yet). This was to be the first in a sequence of new movies featuring Pine’s Ryan and Kevin Costner’s Harper character – the mentor figure that appears throughout most of “Jack Ryan”, and was also expected to appear in the proposed spin-off film “Without Remorse” (whether that happens or not now, considering the performance of “Jack Ryan”, is anyone’s guess?).

Young people are the cinema’s biggest patrons though, and they didn’t turn out to see “Jack Ryan” – in fact, some outlets reported today that the over-50 crowd made up for over a third of the audience (and sounds like most of them were disappointed with the film because they quickly realized Paramount hadn’t made a movie for them, but a whole other segment). The studio hopes that teenagers might catch up with the film on DVD and Blu-ray, ultimately giving the film long-enough legs to warrant another film in the franchise.

Whatever happened here – whether it was the film quality itself, and the poor word of mouth that’s gotten out about it, or the marketing, or the fact that Chris Pine has no pull at the box-office – it’s safe to say that there’s going to be a big meeting at the studio over the coming weeks to discuss what to do with “Jack Ryan”. If it were Warner Bros, they’d just bring in Jason Bourne and do a “Ryan-Bourne” cross-over movie, but Paramount wasn’t in a big rush to get Ryan back on screens this time – it took them over a decade to resurrect the character – so chances are they’ll be quite content just to put him back on ice for another few years until they figure out a way to make him/his vehicle appealing again. God forbid, they reboot the series again…. or go begging Harrison Ford to come back and do an ‘old Ryan in the White House’ sequel? But it’s possible.

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