That Other Samuel L. Jackson Movie Opening This Weekend
In a recent profile for the New York Times Magazine, Samuel L. Jackson was asked about his many movies and the frequent proclamations that he is both the busiest actor on the planet and the highest-grossing actor in history (the latter of which is backed up by the Guinness Book of World Records). In response, Jackson responded, “I get paid all day, every day.”
That seems to be the only explanation Jackson has for taking such varied film roles from the wildly successful to the WTF. Such is the case this very weekend when Jackson stars in two films hitting theaters. One – ‘The Avengers‘ – a film you can’t stop hearing about and another – ‘Meeting Evil’ – a film you’ve probably never heard of.
While ‘The Avengers’ opens this weekend in over 4,000 theaters, Jackson’s other film, ‘Meeting Evil’ will open in just one.
Back in the early-2000s, a on-screen pairing of Luke Wilson and Samuel L. Jackson probably would’ve opened wide with backing from a major studio. It, also, probably wouldn’t have been very good but that hasn’t stopped movies from making their way to audiences before. But now, in 2012, Wilson and Jackson co-star in ‘Evil’ and their pairing will be able to seen only at one lonely theater in Philadelphia from indie distributor Magnet Releasing.
‘Meeting Evil’ stars Jackson as a stranger/serial killer who sucks a depressed suburbanite (Wilson) into a crime spree. It is, as one critic put it, “silliness” and “exaggerated to the point of absurdity.” But is it bad enough to get dumped in one theater up against ‘The Avengers’ (you can judge for yourself by watching the trailer below)?
Bad, as it turns out, doesn’t even matter much. Traditionally, a distributor will pick up the rights to a film like this with the idea to release it on DVD or Blu-ray for a cheap buck. But there sometimes is something in an actor’s contract (likely in Jackson’s), requiring a movie get a theatrical release. So instead of spending any real money, the distributor will dump the movie in a random theater for one week to satisfy that contract clause.
It’s the complete opposite end of the spectrum from ‘The Avengers’ – a film from a major media company using a promotional roadblock, deluging us with material from the film. It’s also an interesting metaphor for Jackson’s career. He balances two films, both opening on the same day: one that will likely make $500 million worldwide this weekend and one that will be lucky to make $500 this weekend. Above all else, Jackson is an actor who just likes to work and, to borrow his own quote, to get paid.