Ryan Reynolds' 'Turbo' & 'R.I.P.D' Expected to Tank Because He Just Can't Headline a Hit
If you're looking for a good movie to see this weekend, chances are it won't be starring Ryan Reynolds. Both of the actor's two films opening Friday — Dreamworks' Turbo and Universal's R.I.P.D. — are likely to bomb at the box office, with the former expected to take in somewhere in the disappointing mid-30 million range and the latter to barely hit 20. Critically, the films aren't faring much better; Turbo is holding at a respectable but not great 65 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and R.I.P.D. hasn't even gotten a single review two days before its release, not a promising sign. It looks like Reynolds is set for a double dose of failure this weekend. Unfortunately, that's not surprising for the actor; Reynolds, while one of the biggest celebrities today, is not, and has never been, a movie star.
Before all you Ryan Reynolds-obsessors start yelling at me, don't get me wrong - I'm not insulting him. He's a talented actor, and he seems like a genuinely good guy. However, as the fates of Turbo and R.I.P.D. show, Reynolds is not a bona-fide star, despite what producers may think.
Early on in his career, Reynolds managed to find some box office success with 2002's Van Wilder and 2005's The Amityville Horror. During the last few years, though, as he skyrocketed to tabloid fame with a marriage to Blake Lively and a People's Sexiest Man Alive award, Reynolds has failed to provide the same opening-day momentum he once had. He's headlined a string of critical and financial bombs, including, but not limited to, 2011's Green Lantern and, later that year, The Change-Up. He's had some hits — this year's The Croods and 2012's Safe House, for example — but neither movie achieved success based solely on Reynolds' participation. Even 2009's The Proposal, arguably his biggest hit, did well at the box office primarily because it starred the beloved Sandra Bullock and the even-more-beloved Betty White. Reynolds certainly played a part in the film's success, but not a particularly substantial one.
Unlike some of the other actors who share his level of fame, i.e. Bradley Cooper or Hugh Jackman, Reynolds doesn't have the ability to guarantee a film's success based solely off his involvement. When his films do well, it's usually because of some other factor, such as the Bullock/White combo mentioned above. Reynolds has some pull as an actor, but at this point in his career, not enough to headline a hit movie. He's simply too generic of an actor — too expectedly good-looking, too dependable, too nice — to be a box office draw.
Those are all good traits, of course, and it's not Reynolds' fault that his movies underperform, it's the studios'. They don't seem to realize that he's an actor better suited for small roles, such as 2009's underrated Adventureland, where he can shine, than major blockbusters, such as Green Lantern. Those big-budget films would be better off starring actors who are guaranteed to bring in major box office success, benefiting both the studios' money and the actors' careers.
It's unlikely that this weekend will have much effect on Reynolds' career, though. He has five movies in the works, all of which have the potential for big box office success. Whether or not they do is a gamble, but it looks like it's one producers are willing to take. For the next year or two, at least, Reynolds will continue to star in movies he's not quite big enough for, and the studios will deal with the financial consequences when they undoubtedly come.