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Will George Clooney Be A 'Ticket To Heaven' With Charm Box Office?

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“Ticket to Heaven,” a romantic comedy that reunites longtime friends and stars Julia Roberts and George Clooney, can defy box office rates.

Admittedly, it seems strange to suggest that a megawatt-capable movie like Roberts and Clooney could be anything but a big hit. But even in pre-pandemic times, romantic comedies were challenged at the box office. It was particularly acute during the COVID period; While “The Lost City” starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum exceeded expectations with $190 million worldwide, Billy Eichner’s “Bros” faced a tough challenge to reach $10.8 million worldwide.

But there is reason to believe that “Ticket to Heaven,” due to land in North America on October 21, could be another reminder that romantic comedies have not completely fallen out of favor in movies. According to initial estimates, the movie is expected to hit the screens for around $15 million. That’s a respectable start, falling somewhere between “The Lost City” ($30 million) and “The Bros” ($4.8 million), the latest high-profile examples to hit theaters.

The combined appeal of Roberts and Clooney is already working at the international box office, where “Ticket to Heaven” has grossed an impressive $72 million to date. Universal reported that “Ticket to Heaven” surpassed pre-pandemic cutesy stories such as “The Lost City,” which grossed $85 million overseas, as well as “Last Christmas” ($88 million overseas) and “Crazy Rich Asians.” ($64 million overseas) at the same point in their respective international presentations.

“The stars still have large followings overseas, where audiences are more loyal to celebrities than they are in North America,” says David A. Gross, director of film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Tastes change faster in the domestic market.”

These shifting tastes, with viewers turning to superheroes and little else, have caused Netflix to dominate the sweet dessert market. Inside Sort In a review, film critic Richard Kuipers noted that “Ticket to Heaven” felt like “the kind of light entertainment that often skips movie theaters these days and goes straight to streaming platforms.” But there are two obvious reasons why Universal chose to keep the movie on the big screen: Roberts and Clooney.

“Star power from the pandemic is resurgent,” says Shawn Robbins, principal analyst at Box Office Pro. “’Lost City’ did a great job and it’s thanks to Sandra and Channing.”

In the US and Canada, “Ticket to Paradise” hopes to work as a counterprogram against “Black Adam,” a DC comic book adaptation starring Dwayne Johnson. Warner Bros. The movie is expected to gross between $50 million and $60 million upon its big-screen debut. Still, analysts note that “Ticket to Heaven” has a clear runway to other adult-puzzling films, such as the Weinstein research drama “She Said” (November 18), Steven Spielberg’s coming-of-age movie “The Fabelmans” (November). 23) and “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story” (November 23) will hit theaters next month.

“I think he’ll have strong legs,” Robbins says of “Ticket to Heaven.” “It might be the kind of movie that’s been around for a while.”

That was the case for a few films aimed at older audiences, such as “Elvis” ($151 million domestically), “Crawdads Sing Where the Crawdads Sing” ($90 million), and “Bullet Train” ($103 million). Thanks to positive word-of-mouth, these films have shown impressive endurance in theaters at a time when blockbusters like “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Jurassic World Dominion,” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” dominated the box office charts.

Universal relies on that kind of staying power for their “Ticket to Heaven”. The movie cost $60 million, which is pretty expensive for modern romantic comedies. After all, it’s been twenty years or more since “Pretty Woman,” “Notting Hill,” and “Runaway Bride” easily made hundreds of millions at the box office, justifying any production budget. But bringing Roberts and Clooney back to the big screen doesn’t come cheap; each mandating multi-million dollar paydays. And shooting during COVID has also resulted in price tags increasing by several million dollars.

Ol Parker is best known for “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” directs “Ticket to Heaven,” about hostile exes who fly to Bali to prevent their crush daughter (played by Kaitlyn Dever) from marrying a man she barely knows. Like “The Lost City,” the escape movie “Ticket to Heaven” seems to be a return to the familiar, winning formula that helped the genre prevail in its heyday.

“Romantic comedies and romance novels have gotten a little stronger lately, but it would be an exaggeration to say we’re back in the good old days,” says Gross.

In other words, Roberts may return to the genre that made him a movie star…but don’t expect the same hug at the box office.