Over the past weekend, Garry Marshall’s latest holiday-themed ensemble rom-com Mother’s Day mustered a piteous $8.3 million from its debut screenings. This should not come as a huge surprise, considering the tsunami of vehemently negative reviews that crashed on the film last week; our own Andrew Lapin described the picture as “garbage” and a “sour mess” in his review, and pretty much everyone else loathed the film, too. But the reek of flopitude emanates even more strongly from this dud than most had expected.
Consider the numbers: an $8 million take out of the gate with grosses expected to decline exponentially over the coming weeks, on top of a $25 million production budget, not to mention money for advertising and promotion, and this is starting to look like a bona fide catastrophe.
Which makes Variety‘s report that Julia Roberts earned $3 million for four days of shooting on the Mother’s Day set even more galling. Garry Marshall’s longtime collaborator (the pair owned the rom-com during the ’90s with Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride) made $750,000 a day in her Greek-chorus role as a Home Shopping Network saleswoman, and while that pales in comparison to her $20 million payday for Erin Brockovich, that film worked with a much larger budget and featured her in a starring role.
Dropping $3 million on Roberts (and then another $1.5 million on her wig, presumably) is supposed to be an investment for the film, with the starpower attached to her name attracting enough viewers to recoup the cost of her performance. Eating up nearly half of the film’s total gross at present, Roberts just made herself the least-profitable actress in Hollywood. This high-profile flop calls to mind last fall’s Our Brand Is Crisis, a political satire that was expected to do healthy business on the strength of star Sandra Bullock’s household-name attraction, but only generated $8.6 million against a $25 million budget. As the ’90s get farther in the rearview, the decade’s most cherished screen idols have lost much of their earning power. The days where Julia Roberts donning a silly wig could guarantee at the very least an even break are over.