Why 'Playing For Keeps' Is Set To Disappoint At The Box Office

 @Justine__Ashley
on December 07 2012 6:08 PM
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Gerard Butler stars in "Playing for Keeps." Open Road Films

As " The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" and "Skyfall" continue to dominate the domestic and worldwide box offices, "Playing for Keeps," hitting theaters Friday, may struggle to stay afloat. Several industry experts have predicted that the romantic comedy, starring Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel, will have somewhat of a disappointing debut.

The Hollywood Reporter's Pamela McClintock estimated the film will earn roughly $6 million during its opening weekend.

Dorothy Pomerantz of Forbes predicted that in the coming days the film won't even rank among the top five movies at the box office.

So why is "Playing for Keeps" poised for such a modest debut? For starters, the film has to compete with two franchise entries, the final "Twilight" installment and "Skyfall," which has emerged as the highest-grossing James Bond movie of all time. The film must also hold its own against awards-season bait such as "Lincoln" and "Life of Pi" -- and with Dec. 14 marking the release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," the movie will likely be drowned out by all hype next weekend.

To top it off, "Playing for Keeps" is being torn apart by critics. The film currently has an abysmal 0 percent Tomatometer rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Christy Lemire of the Associated Press even branded the movie one of the year's worst, while noted its ill-advised release date.  

"This is supposed to be the time of year when high-quality movies come out, whether they're potential Oscar contenders or crowd-pleasing family fare," Lemire said. "So the presence of flat, hacky, unfunny dreck like 'Playing for Keeps' -- the kind of film that ordinarily tries to fly under the radar in January or February but would be torture to sit through in any month -- is a total mystery."

The Wrap's Alonso Duralde wasn't much kinder.

"This rock-stupid combination of family schmaltz and horny-MILF male fantasy does this charismatic leading man (and everyone else involved) no favors," Duralde said.

Another factor to consider is the dwindling popularity of romantic comedies. This year, only two romantic comedies, "The Vow" and "Think Like a Man," wowed at the box office. Others, such as "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and "The Five-Year Engagement," earned less than $45 million apiece. In contrast, "The Dark Knight Rises," "Men in Black 3," and numerous other action films proved to be massive hits, while adventure movies such as "The Avengers," "The Amazing Spider-Man," and "Snow White and the Huntsman" resulted in some of the best box-office returns in years.

"Playing for Keeps" follows a former soccer star (Butler) who decides to coach his son's soccer team as a means of rebuilding the broken relationship he has with him. Directed by Gabriele Muccino, the film also stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, and Dennis Quaid.

"Playing For Keeps" is currently in theaters.

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