I was dead to the world this weekend. That’s what happens when you decide to watch and review all 13 episodes of Daredevil’s second season. I was vaguely aware of the (apparently not good) new Divergent movie. Through Twitter, I knew Jeff Nichols’ new movie Midnight Special was out in limited release. It only played in 5 theaters, but apparently everyone I follow on Twitter lives nearby those theaters because they couldn’t stop talking about it. No one was talking about The Bronze though.
It stars The Big Bang Theory‘s Melissa Rauch as Hope Ann Greggory, a foul-mouthed former Olympic medalist still living off of her moment glory. When another girl from her hometown emerges as an up-and-coming gymnast she reluctantly agrees to train/sabotage her. No one upstages Hope Ann Greggory! You hear me. No one!
Rauch wrote the script with her husband. Indie pioneers The Duplass Brothers shepherded the project as producers. Within two days of its January 22, 2015 premiere at the Sundance Film Festival Relativity ponied up $3 million for the distribution rights and set a release date of July 10th
That was a rich deal for female-led movie with an irredeemably mean main character, especially after the Sundance reviews weren’t exactly overflowing with praise. However, it had to have been a huge moment for everyone involved.
Since she’s on The Big Bang Theory, you might assume cash is simply something Melissa Rauch burns to light her gold-wrapped Cuban cigars, but she and Mayim Balik are actually the lowest paid regular cast members on the show. They make 1/7th of Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar’s salaries and are not even in the same tax bracket as Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parson and Johnny Galecki’s.
Rauch still makes the kind of money the average person will never be able to relate to, but unlike her co-stars she might actually have a financial imperative to keep working beyond the show. An indie movie showcasing her clear preference for playing mean characters, an occasional personality quirk of Bernadette’s which has become increasingly prominent on The Big Bang Theory, seemed like a good start.
Then Relativity declared bankruptcy, immediately putting The Bronze in limbo. It was pushed back to October, and then dropped from the schedule entirely.
These things happen. Studios go out of business. Movies get caught in no-man’s land. Eventually they come out on video. The Bronze would probably show up on VOD services or Netflix one day. At least people would have a chance to see it.
Sony Pictures Classics believed in it, though, scooping up the distribution rights and targeting March 11, 2016 for a limited release, as befits any Duplass Brothers movie. Then they changed their minds and moved it back a week for a wide release, and unleashed Melissa Rauch and Sebastian Stan (who plays a rival coach with whom Greggory shares a surprisingly acrobatic sex scene) on the promotional tour.
That, um, didn’t go so well. According to EW:
The Bronze opened in 1,167 theaters this weekend to an estimated $421,434. That’s a per-location average of only $361. As a result, The Bronze now stands as the fifth-biggest flop to open in more than 1,000 theaters. The record for the all-time worst opening in 1,000+ locations still belongs to the 2009 vampire spoof movie Transylmania, which earned $263,941 in 1,007 theaters. The Bronze also holds the distinction of earning the fifth-worst opening per-theater average for a new movie in 1,000 theaters, behind films like Oogieloves In The BIG Balloon Adventure, Creature, Delgo, and, again, Transylmania.
I was so wrapped up in Daredevil I had no idea The Bronze was opening in so many theaters. Because it’s an indie comedy I assumed we were talking about a limited release with an option for expansion based upon results. Perhaps Sony Pictures Classic opened it so wide not as a sign of misplaced faith but as a “get the most we can from this right away because we know this movie is trash” tactic. It has a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a consensus of, “Enthusiastically unpleasant and mostly unfunny, The Bronze fails to stick the landing — or much else along the way.”
Now I”m curious if The Bronze is truly as bad as everyone says, but if I want to find out I’d better do it soon because this will be goner faster than … crap. I really wanted to close this out with a clever gymnastics pun, but I don’t know anything about gymnastics. I now hang my head in shame.
Based upon the box office, the trailer might be the most of The Bronze the average person ever cares to see: