Matthew McConaughey's 'The Sea of Trees' Has Made Less Than $3,000 at the Box Office So Far

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G3RAB7 The Sea of Trees Year : 2015 USA Director : Gus Van Sant Matthew McConaughey. Image shot 2016. Exact date unknown. Photo: Alamy
Matthew McConaughey in ‘The Sea of Trees’ (Photo: Alamy)

Matthew McConaughey is an A-list movie star who won a Best Actor Academy Award in 2014 for Dallas Buyer’s Club. Naomi Watts and Ken Watanabe are themselves top-tier Hollywood actors. And Gus Van Sant is one of America’s most distinctive directors, having earned two Oscar nominations for Best Director (for Good Will Hunting and Milk) and the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for 2003’s Elephant. So it’s amazing that together they produced The Sea of Trees, a cornball indie drama that during its first week of domestic release, managed to earn less than $3,000 at the box office.

Van Sant’s latest concerns a suicidal professor (McConaughey) who heads off into the Japanese forest of the title that’s infamous as a place where people kill themselves. There, he meets an injured Japanese businessman (Watanabe), all while flashbacks reveal the strained relationship with his wife (Watts) that drove him to consider taking his own life. With a reported production budget of $25 million, The Sea of Trees playing in two theaters last week — has averaged only $1,447 per theater, a dismal showing. (It’s expanding to more theaters and is available on VOD platforms.)

The reason behind this catastrophic release isn’t too difficult to deduce — no matter its illustrious talent, The Sea of Trees is a dreadfully obvious, quasi-mystical slog. The fact that it has an 8 percent “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes is stunning mostly because it means that three reviewers actually found positive things to say (albeit not yours truly). More surprising still is that the film was even picked up by A24 for distribution, given that when it premiered at 2015’s Cannes Film Festival, it was roundly booed at the first press screening and savaged by the critics in attendance, including Yahoo Movies.

Related: Cannes Report: Boos for McConaughey’s Mawkish ‘Sea of Trees’

It’s another underwhelming project for McConaughey, whose “McConaissance” — in the wake of this summer’s largely ignored Civil War drama Free State of Jones — seems to have come to an end. That said, even with The Sea of Trees floundering in its (sure-to-be-brief) theatrical run, the actor’s fortunes may again turn with this December’s awards-season drama Gold. So he’s not going to have to go back to making romantic comedies with Kate Hudson just yet.

Watch the trailer for ‘The Sea of Trees’ if you’re curious: