HOLLYWOOD, June 26, 2000 – Is America's love affair with Jim Carrey over and done with? Do the two parties just need a little space? Is everything comfy and cozy on the laugh track? Or, does Carrey need to stay out of R-rated movies, and avoid playing deranged characters, if he wants to continue his slapstick reign?
Case in point: "Batman Forever" raked in $52.7 million during its opening weekend in 1995, "Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls" posted $37.8 mil (also in 1995), and even Carrey's first real dramatic movie, "The Truman Show," posted $31.5 mil in its first weekend two years ago.
Carrey's biggest success as a solo star came in "Liar, Liar," which opened with a $31.4 million take in 1997, and eventually grossed $181.4 mil.
Granted, the numbers for "Irene" aren't anywhere near as disappointing as those for Carrey's turn as Andy Kaufman in "Man on the Moon" ($7.5 mil opening weekend, $34.6 mil total), but they're reminiscent of "The Cable Guy" (1996), which opened with $19.8 mil and eventually raked in a modest (by Jim Carrey standards, anyway) $60.2 million.
"Based on the way the market is, it's a good opening," Tom Sherak, 20th Domestic Film Group chairman and senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment, told Hollywood.com's Martin Grove last weekend. "Everybody's happy (at Fox)."
"The film's R-rating may have cut into potential sales," says Gitesh Pandya, producer of Boxofficeguru.com. "Carrey comedies traditionally do well with young teens." Pandya notes that R-rated comedies usually don't open big: Prior to "Irene," the largest largest openings for R-rated comedies in recent years have been $20.4 mil for the Eddie Murphy/ Martin Lawrence flick "Life," and $18.7 mil for "American Pie."
On the other hand, "Me, Myself & Irene" posted the biggest opening ever for a Farrelly Brothers comedy. Previously, their biggest debut was with 1994's "Dumb and Dumber" at $16.3 million. So, their gross-out style of humor (there was the semen joke in "There's Something About Mary," and "Irene" features a poop joke) is apparently on the upswing.
And Brandon Gray, editor of Boxofficemojo.com, notes that "Irene" is only slightly underperforming; Carrey's average opening weekend, when you factor in the bomb that was "Man on the Moon," is $25.8 mil.
"(Carrey) is one of the few, true box office draws around, and this is exactly the kind of picture that even made him the most bankable star at one point," says Gray.