Box Office: Moviegoers Flunk Ridley Scott's 'The Counselor'

2:24 PM PST 10/27/2013 by Pamela McClintock

The star-packed drama -- which earned a rare D CinemaScore -- opens to a mere $9 million in North America, marking one of the worst openings for the filmmaker.

On paper, The Counselor couldn't have more pedigree, with director Ridley Scott and stars Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt.

To boot, acclaimed No Country for Old Men author Cormac McCarthy wrote the film's script, marking his first original screenplay. The story revolves around a greedy lawyer, played by Fassbender, who gets caught up with drug lords.

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Yet the R-rated movie was quickly disbarred at the box office, opening to a paltry $9 million after receiving generally negative reviews. More problematic, The Counselor earned a rare D CinemaScore. (Other films that have received the failing grade include this year's bomb Movie 43.)

The Counselor marks one of Scott's worst openings when accounting for inflation. Top spoils go to A Good Year, which fared even worse when opening to $3.7 million in November 2006. Starring Russell Crowe, the romantic comedy earned only $42 million worldwide, including $7.5 million in North America.

Scott's big-budget historical epic Kingdom of Heaven was a big miss in North America, opening to $19.6 million in early May 2006 and topping out at $47.4 million. The film's ultimate performance was boosted by foreign grosses of $164.3 million.

Regardless of any blemishes, Scott is considered one of Hollywood's most important filmmakers and producers. His many directing credits include Prometheus, Gladiator, American Gangster, Alien and Blade Runner.

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Scott's home studio continues to be 20th Century Fox, which spent at least $25 million to make The Counselor. Studio insiders say the film's relatively modest price tag mitigates any financial loss. (In their desire to work with Scott, talent took drastically reduced fees.)

Fox insiders concede that consumers didn't have a sense of what The Counselor was in the days and weeks leading up to the movie's release. The movie has yet to make a major push overseas.

As fate would have it, The Counselor opens just as Fox overhauls its marketing operations, putting international presidents Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus in charge of worldwide marketing and bidding goodbye to previous domestic marketing presidents Oren Aviv and Tony Sella.

Fox remains fiercely loyal to Scott, who is currently shooting the studio's big-budget biblical epic Exodus, starring Christian Bale as Moses. The movie opens Dec. 12, 2014.

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