Here are some obscure film titles from the last four years:
The Bag Man. Heist. Killing Season. Red Lights. Being Flynn.
Here are some domestic box office numbers:
$56,000; $50,000; $39,000; $52,000; $540,000.
Here are some Rotten Tomatoes scores:
23%; 10%; 11%; 29%; 51%.
And here is the name that united them all:
Robert De Niro.
To be clear, not all of De Niro’s recent movies have been failures. If you break up his late-stage career choices into tiers, films like Silver Linings Playbook ($236 worldwide gross on a $21 million budget) and Joy ($52 million and counting) fit neatly into the David O. Russell (top) tier. The Intern, which hit $194 on $35 million, fits into the second tier — middling-to-bad genre movies — alongside Last Vegas, The Family, The Big Wedding,and Grudge Match. But the rest, De Niro’s “toilet movie tier,” either underperformed, barely recouped their budgets overseas, or were, in studio parlance, “dumped”: when the cost of marketing and distributing a movie outweighs whatever money it would bring in and the movie goes straight to VOD, where it can at least recoup a portion of its budget.
Dirty Grandpa, which comes out this Friday, and whose main selling point is shirtless Zac Efron, seems destined for the second tier: a limp story that, with a name like De Niro affixed to it, will gross just enough to make future projects with his name appealing. It’s a low bar, and, increasingly, De Niro squats just beneath it. Read more