When this blog started in the fall of 2012, Matthew McConaughey was coming off a solid two-year period which saw him headline the surprise legal drama hit The Lincoln Lawyer and attract rave reviews for his supporting role in Magic Mike.
Yet 2013 elevated the actor to a whole new stratosphere. His work in the acclaimed indie pic Mud garnered Oscar chatter. He had a memorable cameo alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. It ironically turned out that McConaughey’s scene partner in that film was his biggest competition for an Oscar. Dallas Buyers Club would see the Texan playing Ron Woodruff, a real life AIDS patient in the 1980s. McConaughey’s work was praised and he took home the gold statue. His luck streak continued into the following year starring in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, which stands as his largest grossing live-action feature.
Since then? Well, let’s just say the McConaissance has been interrupted. Or borrowing his most famous catchphrase from 1993’s Dazed and Confused – it’s not Alright Alright.
This weekend, his stoner comedy The Beach Bum tanked at the box office. Its approximate $1.8 million opening is the worst release of the actor’s career. And it follows a pattern of now seven live-action duds (he did provide voice work in the animated pics Sing and Kubo and the Two Strings). And to give a modicum of credit, he did skip the subpar sequel Magic Mike XXL.
At least Nicolas Cage had a string of action hits after his Oscar before delving into VOD territory. McConaughey hasn’t been so fortunate and he quickly needs a critical or commercial success to redeem things. His list of recent material is an unsuccessful and largely forgettable one. In three years, we’ve had:
- Free State of Jones, his summer 2016 Civil War drama that took in $20 million domestically against a $50 million budget. Its Rotten Tomatoes score was 46%.
- The Sea of Trees from later that summer. The drama wasn’t even released wide and didn’t make a million dollars (13% RT score).
- True life crime drama Gold in January 2017. 42% RT. $14 million gross stateside.
- The Dark Tower in summer 2017. The critically maligned Stephen King adaptation had a 16% RT rating and immediately ended the possibility of a franchise with earnings of $50 million.
- Another based on actual events crime drama from last fall – White Boy Rick. 58% RT and $24 million gross.
- Noir thriller Serenity from earlier this year. Barely promoted, it made an embarrassing $8 million total with a 23% RT score.
And now The Beach Bum, which won’t reach $10 million domestically either. It’s time for McConaughey’s people to find him some better stuff. His most memorable appearances lately have been in car commercials. If they can’t manage to do so, there’s always 2013.