It takes a real heartless bastard to root from someone else’s failure—except when it comes to the films of Adam Sandler, which have chugged along on low expectation, product placement, fart jokes, and sycophancy for so long now, they’ve come to represent not only what’s wrong with the studio star system but perhaps, perhaps, what is lacking in America herself. Once or twice a year, we get a new Adam Sandler vehicle, sporting the same circle of Sandler pals filling writing, directing, and supporting player slots, each member of his sad sack crew somehow exerting even less effort this time around; they take a vacation on a studio’s dime, film whatever they can manage, slap those “scenes” into something resembling a “feature film,” and release it with a smug grin. And people keep going… but, it seems, in smaller numbers.
Sandler and Co’s latest, Pixels, sported a more reputable director than usual (Chris Columbus, of Home Alone and the first two, not-very-good Harry Potter movies), but the same half-assed Sandler ethos. And it opened in second place, with what Variety deemed a “lackluster” $24 million—a pretty poor return on a big summer movie with an $88 million budget.
That’s an even lower opening than Jack & Jill, the much-derided 2011 flop that began Sandler’s slide from bankable box office attraction—nine straight Sandler vehicles from his Happy Madison shingle scored $100 million or more between 2003 and 2011—to the current doldrums of underperformers like Blended and That’s My Boy.
Unsurprisingly, according to Variety, “In the U.S., the opening weekend crowd was comprised was 62% under the age of 25 and 55% male,” as if that demographic doesn’t have enough to answer for. Anyway, at the rate Sandler’s going, that Netflix deal might end up being an even savvier move than we thought.