Red State Revenge? J-Law’s ‘Passengers’ Bombs

December 31st, 2016 12:05 PM

Jennifer Lawrence's open letter blasting Donald Trump may be coming back to haunt her.

Here’s a very short open letter to Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence:

Mocking the political views of half the nation may come back to haunt you.


Christian Toto

Case in point: The box office tallies for “Passengers,” Lawrence’s high-budget space romance, proved pitiful.

Here’s registering how poorly it fared over the extended holiday weekend:

But the biggest shocker for the industry is Sony/Village Roadshow’s Passengers which is being suffocated with an estimated six-day take of $26.9M. This is a huge let down. The project took nine years to hit the screen after landing on the Black List and went through various iterations of stars and directors.

Ouch. But was it necessary?

On the surface, “Passengers” looks like sci-fi catnip. Two attractive stars play passengers on a long-distance space flight. Their cryo-pods open prematurely, forcing them to fix the faulty beds or live out their lives in space. Alone. The only thing left for them to do is fall in love.

That delivers both a sci-fi punch and romantic potential.

And then there’s Lawrence’s open letter. The Oscar winner sent it out after Donald Trump’s shocking electoral victory last month. To be fair, since every other celebrity chimed in on the election perhaps the “Passengers” star felt some sort of obligation.

Here’s part of what she said:

[L]ike Hillary, you can still be an inspiration and get important things done. Do not let this defeat you — let this enrage you! Let it motivate you! Let this be the fire you didn’t have before. If you are an immigrant, if you are a person of color, if you are LGBTQ+, if you are a woman — don’t be afraid, be loud!

In short, screw you, Red State America. Did Red State America just respond in kind?

Mixed Messages

The irony here is that stars like Lawrence hit the publicity circuit to convince Red State types to support “Passengers.” Lawrence doesn’t grace Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” couch to crack wise with the former “Saturday Night Live” star.

She’s there to push product.

Lawrence even deigned to chat with “regional” reporters for the “Passengers” promotion, according to

It didn’t work. Why?

In one breath she’s telling people, “please see my cool new movie.” In the next, she’s blasting anyone daffy enough to choose Trump over Hillary Clinton.

Once again, let’s trot out the obligatory “stars are people, too, and they can exercise their speech in any way they chose.”

So can consumers.

Lawrence’s co-star doesn’t follow the typical star playbook. Since becoming an A-lister, Pratt has eschewed divisive political rhetoric. For now, he’s eager to appeal to both red and blue state dwellers.

That wasn’t enough to salvage “Passengers,” apparently.

Now, other factors are clearly in play with “Passengers'” pathetic performance. “Rogue One” is doing boffo box office, as expected. The new animated film “Sing” opened with better than expected figures.

And, given the Oscar season competition, it’s hard to break out this time of year.

One also could argue the failure of “Passengers” goes back to the death of the modern movie star. Very few actors can “open” a movie these days. We flock to see remakes, sequels and brand extensions, not a particular star’s name above the movie title.

One reason why? Today’s celebrities routinely shove their politics in the audience’s face. It’s hard to think that hasn’t impacted Lawrence’s latest film.

[Cross-posted from Hollywood in Toto.]