Box office tracking for the upcoming weekend has come in (via Variety) and shows James Gray’s space epic “Ad Astra” opening between $18 million and $20 million during its box office debut, a solid number made somewhat troubling because the film cost over $80 million to produce. In today’s Hollywood landscape, opening weekend box office grosses go a long way in defining the film as a breakout success (see “Hustlers” last weekend) or a disastrous flop (see “The Goldfinch,” also last weekend). For Brad Pitt, judging movies based on box office debuts is a mistake. Speaking to GQ, the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Ad Astra” actor said he’s more interested in the longevity of his films than by their debut grosses.
Asked by GQ journalist Zach Baron how he will gauge the success of “Ad Astra,” Pitt responded, “Well, for the financiers, whether it be studio or independent, that will be monetary. And most of our films, which I feel is a mistake, get defined by the opening weekend. They’ll say it’s a hit or it’s a miss. But all of my favorite films, I found them well after the fact.”
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Pitt also produced “Ad Astra” through his Plan B Entertainment production banner and noted, “I guess that doesn’t answer my fiduciary responsibility. But it does! Actually I disagree with that. Because I’m looking at the film: Does it have anything to say in 10 years or 20 years? Could it still have legs? Could it still be around? History is rife with films that we love today that were abysmal ‘bombs’ on their opening weekend. And we find them later, or we catch up with them.”
Pitt knows opening weekend box office bombs from personal experience. The actor’s Western drama “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” was one of 2007’s most infamous box office flops, but over a decade later it remains a cinephile favorite and a critical darling of the century’s first decade. Even Pitt’s beloved “Fight Club” started its run as a box office bomb 20 years ago (funny enough, “Jesse James” and “Fight Club” were named Pitt’s two best performances on IndieWire’s recent list).
However “Ad Astra” performs at the box office this weekend, expect Pitt to be more focused on what people are saying about the film a decade from now. The movie goes nationwide from Disney/Fox on September 20.