After a five-month delay, Baz Luhrmann’s long awaited adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” is finally coming to theaters. So far, reviews have been mixed. “Gatsby” has a 56 on Metacritic and just a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. And “Gatsby” still has a global stampede of critics ready to pounce after it opens the Cannes Film Festival next week. With that in mind, we’re using the film’s opening to kick-off a new feature here on HitFix, 3 on 3. What’s 3 on 3? Simply, three questions answered by three HitFix insiders on a compelling topic from the world’s of movies, music and television.
Let’s get to it…
1. Was Warner Bros. right in moving ‘The Great Gatsby’ to May?
Kristopher Tapley: In a word, yes. The studio had a heavy slate to deal with last year on the way to a Best Picture Oscar for “Argo” and “Gatsby” would have suffered while putting a strain on the rest. It also has a better shot at making some money as a summer film (which it is, by the way, more so than a fall prestige one).
Gregory Ellwood: Absolutely. “Gatsby” would have been pummeled by the holiday competition. At first thought opening in the summer sounds like a bad idea, but Warner Bros. has actually done a smart job of counter programming against “Iron Man 3’s” second weekend. “Gatsby” is currently polling to debut over $35 million. That number have been tough at Christmas (let alone for the holiday week).
Drew McWeeny: Sure. It’s a popcorn movie at heart. Baz is playing to the cheap seats, and anyone fooled into thinking he cares about awards hasn’t really been playing attention so far. He’s doing what he does, and at this point, I think he knows that it divides people, and he’s okay with that. As long as he can convince a studio to let him make one of his big splashy spectacles, why shouldn’t they try to make money on them? “Moulin Rouge!” was a pretty canny counter programming play in the summer when it opened.
2. Will ‘Gatsby’ return Baz Luhrmann to the A-list?
Kristopher Tapley: I’m not sure he was ever truly there. After all, the poor guy couldn’t even get a Best Director Oscar nomination for “Moulin Rouge!” In all likelihood he’ll attract a few more stars who would like to sample his breed of cinema and put off a few others who know it’s not the direction they want to go. Same as it ever was, really.
Gregory Ellwood: No. In fact, he may be close to landing in movie jail after this. Or, at the least, finding it considerably harder to land a big budget for his endeavors. Considering its $100 million + budget and marketing costs, “Gatsby” is gonna have to be an international smash to get into the black. And Luhrmann is coming off “Australia” which was a major bomb for 20th Century Fox. “Gatsby” might sell a ton of soundtracks though, but Jay-Z is gonna take all the credit for that, not Baz.
Drew McWeeny: There’s a healthy market for musicals in the Australia/New Zealand market, and if Baz ever really gets stuck in Big Hollywood Jail, he should take a cue from “The Sapphires” or “Bran Nue Dae” and go local. His voice is his voice on a big budget or small, and I think he’ll keep making audience-pleasing films in the future. Not every single one, but enough of them.
3. How will audiences react to the movie?
Kristopher Tapley: I’m guessing more favorable than critics, but I can only think with my heart here. “Gatsby” is a film that wears its own heart on its sleeve and Luhrmann pulls no punches where his passion is concerned. It’s not a gaudy mess or anything so I imagine a fair amount will be charmed as I was. I hope so, anyway.
Gregory Ellwood: Probably mixed. Warner Bros. has done a great job trying to lower the demo age for the film by hyping up the Jay-Z and Fergie tracks in the trailer and TV spots, but the movie is still “Gatsby” and it’s still slow. Expect a B- or C cinemascore. That being said, Luhrmann has something of a fanbase that will like it no matter what (I mean, it’s better than “Australia”).
Drew McWeeny: I have no idea. I heard a wide range of reactions outside my screening, and reading reactions from other people, I think there’s a lot of very different takes on what people saw. Warner Bros. is doing everything they can to open it, and I think there’s some genuine curiosity. Does that mean people go when there’s so much other stuff in theaters at the same time? And that they’ll tell others to go? That’s the question, isn’t it?
What do you think? Share your thoughts and answer the 3 on 3 questions below.