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Gerard Butler looks to Washington for box-office bailout

March 20, 2013|By John Horn
  • Gerard Butler in "Olympus Has Fallen."
Gerard Butler in "Olympus Has Fallen." (Phil Caruso / FilmDistrict )

In the new thriller “Olympus Has Fallen,” Gerard Butler plays a Secret Service agent who takes on North Korean terrorists who have stormed the White House.  

But the “300” veteran may face an even more onerous adversary when the movie opens this weekend: Butler’s own recent box-office history.

The last four movies starring the 43-year-old Scottish hunk all have fizzled fast, and like many stars, Butler no longer can guarantee that his films will open strong.

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Audience tracking surveys suggest that “Olympus Has Fallen,” made by Millennium Films for about $70 million, could generate only so-so opening business of about $20 million (although some estimates have the film performing better).

Last December, Butler struggled selling tickets in a genre where he’s normally done well: romantic comedies. “Playing for Keeps,” with Jessica Biel and Uma Thurman, debuted to just $5.75 million and only grossed $13.1 million total in domestic release. (His earlier romcoms, including "The Bounty Hunter," "The Ugly Truth" and "P.S. I Love You," all grossed more than $50 million.)

A few months earlier, in October 2012, Butler’s surfing movie “Chasing Mavericks” quickly sank to the bottom of the ocean, opening to a poor $2.3 million and selling just $6 million in tickets total.

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Butler’s independent film projects — 2012’s Shakespeare adaptation "Coriolanus" (total domestic gross: $757,000) and 2011’s inspirational drama "Machine Gun Preacher" ($539,000) — fared even worse.

Early reviews for “Olympus Has Fallen,” which Butler also produced, have been mixed to positive. And the weekend’s box-office focus may fall to another troubled box-office duo: Struggling DreamWorks Animation's “The Croods” stars the voice work of Nicolas Cage, who may be even colder with moviegoers than Butler.

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