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Hops and Box Office Flops: ‘THE FANATIC – Johnny T. and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Toupee’

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The past decade has not been kind to poor John Travolta. His star, like the quality of the roles he’s taken, has waned. It has been a precipitous decline, culminating in his latest film—The Fanatic

The Fanatic centers around Moose (John Travolta), a super fan whose fixated on attaining the autograph of his favorite actor, Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa). When that proves more difficult than expected, things take a dark turn. The premise is simple enough, but its execution is disturbingly boorish. Written and directed by Fred Durst (yes, that Fred Durst), it’s an ugly, cynical film. That’s fine, if the material is handled well.

Unfortunately, it was not here. The film’s issues—similar to Travolta’s chosen quotes for his stunningly silly bid for a Best Actor nomination—transcend the written word. And the reviews reflect that. Sitting at 17% on Rotten Tomatoes with 58 reviews, it carries the aforementioned trend above. Travolta is working, but his project choices are not.

Yet, let’s leave the quality of its narrative aside. This was the worst opening of Travolta’s career. Released into just 52 theaters on August 30, 2019, it grossed a measly $3,153 its first night. According to an article in The Hollywood Reporter (THR), that’s an average of $60 a theater; and in a handful of them, it took in less than $10. Those meager receipts also put it on course for less than $15,000 over that four-day holiday weekend. Note: I could not find its eventual total.

This was a small release, though, so let’s put that into perspective. In that same THR article, it broke down two of his other recent films with mirroring distribution strategies. In a Valley of Violence, also starring Ethan Hawke, took in $29,343 from 33 theaters on its first weekend and topped out at $53,647. That was preceded by a three-day launch of $27,713 from 12 locations for Killing Season, co-starring Robert De Niro. That movie finished its brief run with $53,646.

Just take a moment to digest those figures… The Fanatic, which opened in more theaters than either of the other two, paced far behind them. Not great, Johnny.

Anyway, now that you’ve had some time to reflect, sit back, grab a (or several) Fear. Movie. Lions Double IPA from Stone Brewery, and try your best not to avert your eyes as I the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK) and Chumpzilla perform improv as British Bobbies on Hollywood Boulevard!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – In what was a new low for Travolta Month, we examine whether or not The Fanatic is worthy of the Bad Movie Championship Belt. (00:00)
  • Limp Bizkit Album Titles – We honor Fred Durst by offering our Top-5 titles for a future Limp Bizkit album. (36:41)
  • Recommendations – We offer our picks for the week and look forward to future installments of the pod—The Punisher (2004) and Terminator: Dark Fate among them. (38:40)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—Travolta’s baffling Oscars pitch and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

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Thomas L. Kelly

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