It was unlikely that any film opening the same day as Toy Story 3 was going to do very well, but Jonah Hex failed even by those low standards. It made just $5.4 million, barely enough for seventh place. It had about the same gross and same per-theater average as Killers -- which opened two weeks ago and which nobody liked in the first place. That's like entering a marathon at the 20-mile mark and still getting beaten by an old lady with a walker.
Adding to the film's financial misery is the fact that it's also pretty lousy. I mean, if the movie were good and for whatever reason didn't find an audience, at least the people involved could look proudly upon their work and hope for a cult following on DVD. The best the people who made Jonah Hex can hope for is that they will be permitted to work in this town again, and that Josh Brolin will not punch them when he sees them.
What went wrong? How did a movie that originally had such potential turn into a debacle? Let's pull back the sizzling scar tissue and examine it.
It was almost exactly three years ago -- July 2007 -- when Warner Bros. announced that the duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor would write and direct a movie version of the Jonah Hex comic book. The guys had just made the insane Crank and were now officially hot shiz. A year later, Thomas Jane campaigned for the lead role, going so far as to produce photos of himself in character makeup. Clearly the Confederate-soldier-turned-bounty-hunter had his fans.