If you’re buying what the Hollywood movie industry pundits are selling about the career of Kelowna-born Taylor Kitsch, perhaps you expect to see the Battleship star back in Kelowna busking by the waterfront later this summer. When John Carter bombed, people were looking his way as a potential source for the blame. But when Battleship failed to break the $30 million mark in its first weekend, Hollywood had their torpedoes aimed squarely at Kitsch.
The fail of John Carter was so epic, Disney studio boss Rich Ross
was canned stepped down and packed his bags. "I no longer believe the chairman role is the right professional fit for me. For that reason, I have made the very difficult decision to step down as chairman of the Walt Disney Studios," Ross said. With Battleship looming (and performing well oversees), it appeared as if Kitsch might be dodging a bullet. Then this weekend happened, and everything changed.
Nikki Finke, one of the most influential Hollywood industry bloggers and owner of Deadline.com, wasn’t too kind to our Taylor this weekend – slinging this sharp barb his way: At Universal, Peter Berg’s military vs aliens actioner did only John Carter-low grosses for high cost (which is why the star of both pics, Taylor Kitsch, will be asking “You want fries with that?” very shortly).
Gawker.com wonders if it’s game over for Kitsch’s career: Riding almost $500 million on Taylor Kitsch was a foolish gamble given his bland aesthetics—he's almost anonymously attractive and competent at best in both Carter and Batteship.
Not so fast, Hollywood. Taylor worked his Ogopogo-bred ass off for these films, and probably gave everything he could as an actor to these films. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kitsch recalled an encounter with another guy working out beside him at the gym. “This guy came up to me and goes, ‘Next one. Don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine,’” Kitsch chafed. “I’m like, ‘I’m not worried about it, man. I didn’t market the movie. I didn’t finance it. I gave everything I had to the film.’ It sucks to feel like you have to be defensive. But if someone’s gonna take the fall, it’s gonna be me,” he said.
Maybe Kitsch is willing to take the fall, but he shouldn’t be obliged to do so. He’s right: he didn’t market the films (both marketing campaigns were awful), he didn’t write the scripts (which is where much of the blame should lie) and he isn’t powerful enough of a star to oversee either of the films’ overall directions. So who is to blame?
That question will never be answered, but I think it’s an unfortunate coincidence that Kitsch just happened to be the star of both films. The only thing you may be able to fault him on is his decision to sign on to two mega-budget films sporting weak storylines. Maybe he could have looked at the scripts and tuned into the fact that there was something not quite right.
I’ve read theories that Kitsch’s most recognized work, his role as Tim Riggins on NBC’s Friday Night Lights (one of the most underrated shows of the decade – if you haven’t seen it you should fire up Netflix this weekend and do an FNL marathon) wasn’t enough to bring him up from the TV world to the land of blockbuster films. That’s unfair. Many actors and actresses with lesser talents have made the transition to film with better success.
Kitsch’s next big role is already coming soon to a theatre near you, in Oliver Stone’s Savages. The film (awesome trailer below) opens July 6th, and also stars Blake Lively, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro and
even Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction Salma Hayek. Without the weight of having a mega budget behind it, the pressure is off. The film’s box office will be irrelevant, and if Kitsch’s performance is solid he’s basically back on track. Plus, there are rumours that Taylor may be offered the role in the film adaptation of the mega successful mommy porn novel Fifty Shades of Grey. That would basically guarantee him box office success. Plus, his IMDB Star Meter is up 79 points this week to #24 (recovering from a big fall last month).
So, has Hollywood sunk Kitsch’s acting battleship? Miss. He’s reloading the torpedoes and is ready to strike back.