Pop Rocks: The Real Reasons The New Tom Cruise And Adam Sandler Movies Tanked

If you're one of the eight or so people on the planet who cares about such things, it was something of a big deal that two movies in their second week of release beat new efforts from Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler in the weekend box office:

A couple of high-profile openers couldn't force the animals of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted into their cages.

The animated comedy topped the box office once again this weekend, while Rock of Ages and That's My Boy delivered majorly disappointing debuts. [...] Although many prognosticators expected Rock of Ages to vie for the number one spot this weekend, the hair-metal Broadway adaptation couldn't convince audiences to join the mosh pit.

Yeah, you didn't want to get in the pit at a Foreigner show, maaaan.

Rounding out the top five is Adam Sandler's latest, That's My Boy, which, despite the presence of Saturday Night Live favorite Andy Samberg, earned only $13 million over Father's Day weekend. That's about half of what Sandler's last comedy, the Razzie-festooned Jack and Jill, earned in its debut ($25 million), and his smallest opening for a traditional live-action comedy since Happy Gilmore's $8.6 million bow in 1996.

Optimists might use this as evidence that the world is tired of Cruise and Sandler, which would be folly. Besides, there are clear reasons why these movies performed as poorly as they did, and they may not be what you'd expect.

"Cruise can't open a non-action movie." "Sandler can't open R-rated because adults don't want to watch his movies." "America's love affair with 'Don't Stop Believing' is over." Okay, that last one may be true, but otherwise this gnashing of teeth about a box office apocalypse is somewhat off the mark. For the benefit of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, future generations, and the next Mrs. Pop Rocks - Milla Jovovich - here are the real reasons these flicks were such duds at the box office.

Why Rock of Ages Sank Like A Stone

1. Run, Cruise, Run The action movie excuse wasn't far off the mark, but it's even simpler than that. In every major box office success of Tom Cruise's career (four of the top six are the Mission Impossible films), he's spent a significant amount of time running. This emphasis on fleet-footedness seems almost pathological. In War of Worlds (#2), for example, he was so good at it everyone else who was running away from the alien tripods was vaporized, and I'd conservatively estimate he spent ten minutes of M:I3' final act sprinting. In RoA, on the other hand, he's barely ambulatory.

2. Stacee Jaxx Is A Porn Star Name I mean, it isn't really (not yet, anyway), but if you're expecting to pull in that coveted 16 to 40 year-old male demographic and have a character named "Stacee Jaxx," you'd better show off a little more than Malin Akerman's side boob.

3. Will Forte Forte has a bit part as aTV reporter in RoA, but even that is too much, because outside of TV, Forte is poison. MacGruber didn't even make back its budget, and the less said about Beerfest and The Slammin' Salmon the better. When The Watch tanks next month, wise men with skinny arms will blame crappy BO numbers on the film's connection to the Trayvon Martin shooting, but we'll know the real reason. To paraphrase Project Mayhem: his name was Will Forte.

Why That's My Boy Was Neutered

1. Sandler's Hair Was Too Long This isn't rocket science, people. What do all of Sandler's highest grossing movies have in common? In the top 10, at least, he sports that #3 around-the-world clipper cut so familiar from Big Daddy and Grown Ups. The only film of his to earn more than $100 million domestically in which he sports longer locks was You Don't Mess With the Zohan. Among the worst performers: Little Nicky, Spanglish, Reign Over Me, and That's My Boy. The influence of Sandler's follicles on opening grosses is referred to as the "Reverse Samson Effect" by cinema experts everywhere. Meaning me, just now.

2. No Rob Schneider Schneider is to cinema what root rot is to pine trees, but what can't be argued is his positive effect (Little Nicky notwithstanding) on Sandler's box office performance.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

3. Will Forte Again Fine, he seems like a decent enough guy. Just know that casting Forte in your movie is likely to have the same effect as putting Ted McGinley in your TV series.

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