Mel Gibson: How much more PR damage can one career take and still survive?
Image Credit: Pixplanete/PR PhotosTen years ago this week, audiences were flocking to theaters to see Mel Gibson star in the Revolutionary War epic The Patriot, driving the film to over $200 million in global box-office receipts. A few months later, he would star in his second big hit of 2000, the romantic comedy What Women Want. Today, with his already badly tarnished image further damaged by reports that he’s under investigation for domestic violence, the question is, are we approaching a point where a Mel Gibson movie could become something almost no one wants?
Even in Gibson’s prime, an allegation of domestic violence — and to be clear, this is just an allegation, albeit one that comes on the heels of other recent ugly accusations — would have constituted a severe blow to his career. But, as a box-office draw, Gibson is far from his prime. His last movie, the thriller Edge of Darkness — the first major film he’d starred in in eight years — grossed a disappointing $43 million. His next film, The Beaver, is a dark comedy in which he plays a sad-sack man who finds solace by talking to a beaver puppet — not the easiest sell, even under the best circumstances. But given how much bad PR he’s received over the past several years, you have to wonder whether audiences will be able to watch him on-screen and feel anything resembling genuine sympathy, even if the current tabloid firestorm around Gibson has died down by the time the film opens (presumably next year). If The Beaver flounders at the box office, Gibson’s career woes will be magnified all the more; Hollywood can forgive scandals, but it doesn’t forget flops. Gibson recently wrapped production on an action drama called How I Spent My Summer Vacation. We can only imagine how he will spend this summer. It clearly won’t be what you’d call a vacation.
What do you think? Can Gibson rehabilitate his image and salvage his career? Should he retire from acting and focus solely on directing? Or is he rapidly reaching the point of no return?