Did we really think that a solid performance in a little Jodie Foster film was going to bring this guy back? We might as well start talking with hand puppets, too
Some facts to start off with: Oasis was not the Beatles, "Community" is not a hit television show, and Mel Gibson is no longer a viable movie star.
After everything that publicly happened to Gibson in 2010 — a year in which he was supposed to be in comeback mode — it was probably a little crazy to think a strong performance in an indie film would bring his career back.
This weekend proved a reality check. Audiences simply said: No, thanks.
"The Beaver" debuted in 22 locations this weekend, with distributor Summit Entertainment expecting a per-screen average of more than $15,000 for the weekend. But the film grossed only $104,000 all told, averaging an embarrassing $4,745 per engagement.
Which was somewhat strange because pre-release buzz for the comedic drama had been solid. Gibson won praise for his role as a corporate executive dealing with a midlife crisis by communicating to the world through a beaver hand-puppet.
At SXSW, for example, buzz was so strong that some attendees — TheWrap's Steve Pond included — openly wondered if the film could save Gibson's career.
But the movie — which was delayed several times in 2010 as one Gibson PR disaster unfolded after another — found no traction in its U.S. premiere.
Summit co-produced the $21 million film along with Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi, and likely won't feel much pain to its balance sheets.
Director and co-star Jodie Foster will rebound from an indie effort that wasn't completely rejected by critics, who collectively scored the film at 65 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
It doesn't look good for Gibson, however.
Since 2006 — when his troubles started with a DUI arrest that veered anti-Semitic, Gibson has starred in only one other movie, Warner thriller "Edge of Darkness," which debuted in January 2010.
As comebacks go, that was no resounding succcess, but it was no glaring mark of box-office rejection, either, with the $80 million film opening to $17.2 million and grossing $81.1 million worldwide.
Fifteen months and about 10 profanity-laced phone calls to ex girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva later, now Gibson can't open a well-regarded indie movie in a handful of theaters.
Is he finished as a viable force in the motion-picture industry?
Not entirely. Gibson is plenty wealthy and talented enough to finance his own efforts. Later this year he will release a film produced by his own Icon, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" — a drama set in a Mexican prision written by and starring Gibson.
But otherwise, prospects don't look good.