There was a time when Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Kevin Costner were box office gold, but those days may have come to an end. This summer, their big releases — The Love Guru, Meet Dave, and Swing Vote, which bowed last weekend to a sad $6.2 million — crashed and burned. You can’t blame their age — after all, Robert Downey Jr., Harrison Ford, and the women of Sex and the City all boast huge hits this year. The problem? These onetime powerhouses headlined movies whose concepts were better suited for the bargain bin.
”These movies are from a different time,” says one studio executive. ”Sometimes you can overcome that. Sometimes you can’t.” Indeed, Guru felt like a crass retread of the far-more-accessible Austin Powers franchise, while comparisons to Murphy’s 2002 disaster The Adventures of Pluto Nash helped sink Dave. And while the Joe-Schmo-in-a-baseball-cap thing long worked for Kevin Costner (see: Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Tin Cup), the fact that Swing Vote arrived during the dog days of an exhausting election season didn’t help. Nor did the dated advertising campaign, which felt more 1993 than 2008. Says a rival exec, ”There was a subtle sense that the people selling these movies knew they sucked.” Obviously, the moviegoing public felt the same way.