Movie Talk

Ryan Reynolds’s 'Turbo'-'R.I.P.D.' Double Whammy: Has Anyone Ever Flopped So Hard?

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Ryan Reynolds's dubious double flop distinction: in 'R.I.P.D.' and as the voice of Turbo

Ryan Reynolds's double flop: as Nick in 'R.I.P.D.' and as Turbo (Photo: Universal/Dreamworks)

Burning Question: Should we feel sorry for Ryan Reynolds for having two flops in a single weekend or should we be asking why he's still getting lead movie roles? — U.B., Toronto

You speak of "R.I.P.D." —you know — "Men in Black" but with ghosts — and the animated snail picture called "Turbo," in which Reynolds voices the lead gastropod. We're looking at two big disappointments, all right — at least, for an opening weekend. Universal's $182 million "R.I.P.D." brought in a paltry $12.8 million, and DreamWorks Animation's $135 million "Turbo" scored only $28.5 million. Both big budget flops were trounced by the much cheaper "The Conjuring," which made a tidy $41.5 million and only cost $20 million to make.

There's always a chance that Reynolds's latest flicks will make their money back in overseas sales and rentals. Or not.

As for whether we've ever seen this specific flavor theatrical Ragnarok before — two opening-weekend flops, one actor — well, not exactly.

"Nothing immediately comes to mind," says Len Klady of Movie City News, though it's worth noting that Taylor Kitsch did have three initial box office disappointments in a single year in 2012: "John Carter," "Battleship," and "Savages." Those first two flicks cost more than $450 million combined, but their collective box office take, at least, stateside, has yet to top $140 million.

[Video: Get the Lowdown on 'R.I.P.D.' 'Turbo' and 'Red 2']

As for why Reynolds keeps getting roles, know this: You may not like Reynolds or his movies, but some of them do make money. Take "The Croods," that cartoon about I don't really care what (OK, a prehistoric family trying to avoid extinction). That thing debuted earlier this year and already has made its money back via U.S. ticket sales alone. ("The Croods" has tallied $186 million domestically and $582 million overall.)

Sure, "Green Lantern" failed to reach the lofty levels of Justice League cohorts Batman and Superman, and might have ruined a would-be franchise, but the superhero flick still made $220 million worldwide, which is about $20 million over its reported budget.

Unfortunately, films need to gross about twice their budget to reach profitability, since studios split ticket sales with exhibitors. Of course, there's a chance Blu-ray/DVD and pay-per-view will help, but probably not a great deal. Perhaps both films will do well in foreign markets, as that's a much bigger piece of the overall box office puzzle.

So Reynolds still has a fighting chance. Last year's "Safe House," in which Reynolds starred alongside Denzel Washington, cost $85 million to make and already has made nearly $130 million.

And get this: Sometimes the guy can even act.

"Did you see the Spanish film 'Buried'?" Klady asks, mentioning the low-budget thriller, which wound up grossing a respectable $20 million worldwide. "It's about a guy who wakes up to find himself buried alive in a coffin. It's just him, a cell phone, and a flashlight. And he's good in it."

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