Early Reviews for 'The Great Gatsby' Suggest 'Iron Man 3' Will Have Another Stellar Weekend
by Josh Wolonick, Minyanville staff writer
Early reviews are in for Baz Luhrman's 3-D-spectacle adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. So far, they suggest that Iron Man 3, with little competition at the box office besides Gatsby, will have a hugely successful second weekend. On reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, The Great Gatsby has a score of 38% with 26 reviews, and on Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, with 14 reviews.
For a film based on a book that has been adapted four times to mixed results, strong reviews were going to be crucial for Luhrman's version, distributed by Warner Bros. (NYSE: TWX). Though the film's visual effects have been widely acclaimed, many reviewers have noted that the aesthetics outweigh the narrative, which is uncompelling. Many have praised Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as the titular Jay Gatsby, but poor reception of the film as a whole will probably doom his chances of any awards next winter.
Below are selections from those early reviews:
Christy Lemire of the Associated Press: "Luhrman's Great Gatsby is all about the glitter but it has no soul -- and the fact that he's directed it in 3-D only magnifies the feeling of artificiality."
Stephanie Zacharek of Village Voice: "It seldom, if ever, captures that fierce delicacy of feeling Fitzgerald packed into every sentence. And it's not an actors' movie."
Keith Uhlich of Time Out New York: "The anachronistic pop-music cues, digitally augmented tracking shots and disco-globe-glittery production design don't re-create the headiness of early-20th-century New York so much as invent a billowy fantasy otherworld in the gauzy vein of Twilight."
Considering all the negative reviews, there were some positive words written, albeit, with reservations:
Lou Lumenick of New York Post: "A movie that many not be truly great but certainly stands out like a beacon in a sea of silly blockbusters."
Rex Roberts of Film Journal International: "Jay-Z meets Jay G in this hyperventilated version of F. Scott's eloquent novel about an enigmatic self-made millionaire -- the film isn't for purists, but Baz should generate a buzz with young audiences."
On the other hand, Iron Man 3, distributed by Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) had a massively successful showing last weekend, taking in a very strong $175.3 million, making it the second-largest opening for a film ever, just behind last year's The Avengers, which made an astounding $207.4 million. On Rotten Tomatoes, those films came in at 78% and 93%, respectively.
Iron Man 3's primary competition at the box office this weekend will still come from The Great Gatsby, as the other films that are opening, including Stories We Tell and The Painting (with excellent reviews), Peeples (with middling reviews), and Assault on Wall Street (with no reviews), are much smaller in financial scope (less marketing, less budget, less star power). It is safe to bet that Iron Man 3 will have a lucrative second weekend, making Disney's acquisition of Marvel Studios all the sweeter (not that the deal needed justification after The Avengers became the third-highest grossing film of all time).
All this being said, we can never fully predict box office results, and The Great Gatsby has had a focused and seemingly ubiquitous marketing campaign. Reviews of the soundtrack, developed by Jay-Z, have been positive. Moreover, the film has attracted numerous corporate sponsors who have introduced Roaring '20s, Gatsby-influenced products, including Brooks Brothers and Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF). A lot of corporate stakeholders want to see this movie succeed.
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