General News

Can Carrey Still Carry A Comedy?

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Aug 16, 2001 | 9:13am EDT

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?

Me, Myself & Irene" opened last weekend at No. 1, pulling in $24.2 million. Nobody's saying that's a poor showing, but it's not in the same box-office league as some of Carrey's biggest hits.

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)."

So, "Irene" is Carrey's fifth-biggest opening weekend at the box office. But what does it all mean?

"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.

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