When 2 Guns, Universal's action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, hits theaters this weekend, it won't break any records. It'll take in $20 to $25 million at the box office, and spend the next few months attempting to make back its budget overseas. If this weekend is slow, the film might end up finishing at No. 1, beating out its competition, which isn't saying much — the only other major movies out are last week's Wolverine and this week's Smurfs 2, which even kids don't want to see.
Overall, 2 Guns will do fine at the box office — it won't be a huge bomb, but it won't be a particularly impressive release. It's surprising, though, seeing as the movie stars two of the biggest actors in Hollywood, it's gotten relatively good reviews, and it's a fast-paced, action-filled comedy, exactly what the public adores in the summertime.
So why won't 2 Guns be a blockbuster hit? Well, I blame it on the guns.
2 Guns, of course, is full of them. So was R.I.P.D., last month's box office bomb. And so was June's hugely underperforming White House Down. Maybe, finally, American audiences' desire to see movies where guns get as much screen time as the star is starting to wane. It'd be a welcome trend, and hopefully, one that lasts.
As for why now? In the wake of Newtown and other tragic shootings, it might just be that Americans don't want to see guns any more in the movies than they already do in real life. The backlash began with January's violent Gangster Squad, which had both its release date moved and a gun-heavy scene altered after the Aurora, Colo., shootings, and has continued all year long, as the gun control debate has become an increasingly pressing issue throughout the country. Even the stars of gun-heavy movies, like Kick-Ass 2's Jim Carrey, have voiced their outrage for Hollywood's reliance on weaponry. Hypocritical? Yes. But unwarranted? Definitely not.
There's nothing wrong about wanting to see a movie featuring guns, especially in the summertime, when people generally want escapist-type fare. The public loves their action movies, and a lot of the time, that means artillery is involved. Yet there's a major difference between movies that contain guns and movies that rely on them. In films about superheroes, aliens, mutants, etc., action heroes use guns to destroy their enemies/look cool/save the world, but the weaponry isn't the focus of the film. World War Z, Iron Man 3, and more featured guns, but they were merely aides to the story, tools used to help the protagonists achieve their goals. These movies performed phenomenally at the box office, helped by frequent pre-release marketing and major positive buzz.
Yet 2 Guns, and R.I.P.D, for example, barely got notice in the press before their releases. They were ignored by the media, and subsequently, they were/will be ignored by the public. Critics and audiences alike may have finally gotten tired of one of Hollywood's most relied-upon formulas, that guns alone equal box office success. It's about time — when it seems like every movie released in theaters could share the same tagline (tough middle-aged guy shoots lots of guns, looks cool doing it), then it's probably time for a change.
Of course, this summer's lack of interest in gun-focused films doesn't mean audiences will forever ignore them. There have already been exceptions, like The Heat, a gun-heavy buddy movie, which had fantastic box office success. As everyone knows, The Heat was amazing, and I'm not saying it shouldn't have been made, or that audiences shouldn't have seen it. I just want the gun-centric movie to be the exception, not the rule. And this summer, it looks like audiences are starting to agree.