''Killing Them Softly'', Pitt's second movie with director Andrew Dominik, gets a cold reception

By Sara Vilkomerson
Updated December 07, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST
  • Movie

In the end, Killing Them Softly hardly slayed anyone — at least not at the box office. Despite critical raves (EW gave it an A), the gritty Mob drama starring Brad Pitt eked out less than $7 million on more than 2,000 screens, the lowest wide-release opening in the actor’s career. Even worse, CinemaScore audiences slapped the movie with an extremely rare F.

Killing Them Softly‘s poor showing is a case of déjà vu for Pitt and director Andrew Dominik. Their first collaboration, 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, was also a critical favorite that tanked, grossing less than $4 million total in the U.S.

Pitt first met Dominik after seeing the latter’s first feature, 2000’s Chopper. ”I struck up a friendship with him and just said, ‘You find something, you let me know. I’m in,”’ Pitt told EW last year. ”This guy knows something about psychology of character.”

Fortunately for Dominik, Pitt is not a fairweather friend. The actor is proud of Jesse James, which earned two Oscar nominations: ”I do not give a s— about the opening weekend,” he told EW. And he used his clout to get Killing Them Softly made. The fact that the film cost only $15 million will help the bottom line. As for that F from CinemaScore, audiences expecting nothing but gunplay might have been put off by the movie’s politics. In any case, Pitt’s buddy George Clooney also got an F from CinemaScore once — for 2002’s Solaris — and it’s hard to imagine either of them crying in their beers.

Killing Them Softly

  • Movie
  • R
  • 97 minutes
  • Andrew Dominik