Nicole Kidman: Box Office Poison?


I don’t have any interest in Nicole Kidman. As a rule, I don’t really like her acting and I pay next to no attention to news or gossip about her.

She is fine in ‘Practical Magic’, but equally I think she is awful in ‘The Others’ and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, which is a dreadful film, although I have to admit I am not generally a fan of Stanley Kubrick at the best of times. I didn’t like ‘Birth’ very much. She was good in ‘To Die For’. I don’t think I’ve seen anything else. It’s a shame that ‘Bewitched’ is apparently so bad. I’d still like to check that one out at some point.

So, why am I bothering to write something about her?

In the Guardian Guide for the week 6-12 October 2007 the film critic John Patterson devoted his weekly article to Kidman under the heading, “If only… Nicole Kidman would retire.” The by-line is, “John Patterson breaks the news to the Australian diva that she’s no longer a commercial proposition.” One small extract from the article is brought out of the text as a highlighted quote:

“Invasion is almost the 10th Kidman movie in a row that has vanished without trace.” He goes on to write, “If only you’d retire. Because now would be the time. If you wait any longer, Hollywood’s powers that be – or their accountants – will rise from their crypts one morning and realise it is time to cut their losses re: your not entirely brilliant career. Anyone devoted to the bottom line will sooner or later notice that you have become Miss Joan Crawford 1944: which is to say, box office poison.”

Kidman is one of the handful of huge Hollywood film stars and I found it hard to believe she had been so unsuccessful at the box office. I decided to check the figures at Box Office Mojo.

‘The Invasion’, a remake of 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers', in which she co-stars with Daniel Craig, hasn’t performed very well in America, grossing a little over $15 million, with a further $20 million oversees. John Patterson is right about this one. There are three other recent films that probably should be disregarded here, although I will mention them for the sake of accuracy.

Kidman narrates an acclaimed documentary film called ‘I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal’. This has a box office gross of just under $139,000. She also co-stars with Robert Downey Jr in the arthouse film ‘Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus’ - directed by Steven Shainberg, who also made ‘Secretary’. It was screened in 39 cinemas and grossed $2.2 million. Finally, she provides one of the voices for the animated family film ‘Happy Feet’, which grossed $384 million.

Putting these films to one side, here is a list of the last ten Nicole Kidman films released prior to ‘The Invasion’, each one with the box office gross.

Bewitched (June 2005): $131 million - Rotten Tomatoes rating: 25%
The Interpreter (April 2005): $163 million - RT rating: 58%
Birth (October 2004): $24 million (this is an arthouse film that received a limited theatrical release) - RT rating: 39%
The Stepford Wives (June 2004): $102 million - RT rating: 26%
Dogville (March 2004): $17 million (another arthouse film) - RT rating: 70%
Cold Mountain (December 2003): $173 million - RT rating: 72%
The Human Stain (October 2003): $25 million (I have to admit I had never heard of this one before) - RT rating: 41%
The Hours (December 2002): $109 million - RT rating: 80%
Birthday Girl (February 2002): $16 million (arthouse film – Kidman speaks a lot of her dialogue in Russian) - RT rating: 57%
The Others (August 2001): $210 million - RT rating: 83%

Quite clearly, these are not ten movies that have vanished without trace. It really doesn’t matter, but it just annoys me when film critics cannot even be bothered to be accurate with readily available facts and simply make these up to suit their own subjective opinions.

What John Patterson presumably wanted to say is that he doesn't like Nicole Kidman or, at least, he doesn't like her films. Why didn't he just say that?


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