Nobody’s Fool had all the makings of a box-office winner – Tyler Perry, Tiffany Haddish and lots of buzz — yet the comedy opened to a disappointing $13.7 million.
With legions of loyal fans and millions of followers on social media (Perry has a combined 22 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and Haddish has 5.3 million), you’d think those numbers would translate to strong ticket sales. But that didn’t happen over the weekend.
Haddish stars as Tanya, a woman released from prison who reunites with her sister Danica, played by The Haves and the Have Nots actress Tika Sumpter. Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg, Power star Omari Hardwick and former Glee actress Amber Riley co-star.
Despite having a bankable director and likable cast, the film landed in third place at the box office behind the $51 million debut of Bohemian Rhapsody and the $20 million opening of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
The modestly budgeted Nobody’s Fool — which cost a reported $19 million to make — logged the third-lowest opening of Perry’s directing career after Daddy’s Little Girls ($11 million in 2007) and The Single Moms Club ($8 million in 2014).
So what happened? Here are some possible reasons.
Critics pummeled the film, giving it a dismal 25% on Rotten Tomatoes as of Sunday night (it slipped to 21% Monday). The comedy was only reviewed two dozen times because Paramount didn’t screen it for critics, which typically happens with Perry’s films. Those who did review it had to buy tickets like everyone else, and quickly rush out their stories.
One of the few critics who gave the film a positive review was Wilson Morales, editor of Blackfilm.com.
“I’m not saying it’s a great film, but I certainly think it’s better than a 25% film,” Morales told Urban Hollywood 411.
The entertainment journalist, who said he’s seen all of Perry’s films, thinks some critics went into the movie with unrealistic expectations.
“Tyler Perry is not bringing anything new to the game, but I don’t know what [critics] are looking for when they go to his films,” Morales said, noting that Perry gives his fans exactly what they want, a good time at the movies.
After a long relationship with Lionsgate, Perry changed distributors and Paramount released Nobody’s Fool. The studio did not respond to a request for comment on the film’s marketing campaign.
Morales believes the movie’s R rating was probably a bigger factor than whatever Paramount did or didn’t do.
“This is his first R rated comedy,” Morales said. “With an R rating, obviously you’re not going to bring in the kids in which, with the Madea movies, you have the grandmothers bringing in the kids who they’re babysitting and so forth. But when you have an R rating, you have parents who are not going to let their kids see it.”
Too Much Tiffany Haddish
The comedy is Haddish’s fourth film in just five months. Uncle Drew opened in June, followed by The Oath and Night School, which topped the box office in September with a $27-million debut.
“Tiffany Haddish remains hugely popular, but with so many projects coming back to back in a short amount of time, that may have made it tough for the movie to break out,” said Paul Dergarabedian, comScore senior media analyst. “Fans need some breathing space so they can regenerate that feeling of wanting more.”
Even though Perry plans to retire his Madea alter-ego next year, the character remains popular. Without Madea’s signature sass, there may not have been enough to attract the director’s loyal fans.
“His Madea films tend to do more [at the box office],” Morales noted.
Two key Hispanic media groups are boycotting Paramount for what they call “exclusion” of Latino talent.
In July, members of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and the National Latino Media Council (NLMC) held a news conference in Pasadena, where they accused the studio of having “shameful numbers when it comes to Latino employment, in front of and behind the camera.”
The groups said Paramount has the worst track record of hiring Latinos of all the studios.
They urged the company to sign a memorandum of understanding outlining its plan to hire more Hispanic talent. When that didn’t happen, they held protests outside the studio’s headquarters in Hollywood, and posted a list of Paramount-distributed films to avoid, including Nobody’s Fool.
“We have more than 50 organizations that have signed on to boycott their films,” Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the NHMC, stated Monday.
Nogales said it’s unfortunate Nobody’s Fool may have been hurt by the boycott, but it was time to take a stand.
“I have a big appreciation for Tyler Perry,” he explained. “I’m sorry he has taken that hit.”