Ferrell basketball comedy bombs at box office
By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - He shoots. He ... misses.
Will Ferrell stumbled at the North American box office on Sunday with his latest sports comedy, "Semi-Pro."
The basketball spoof narrowly took the No. 1 spot with disappointing ticket sales of $15.3 million, its struggling distributor New Line Cinema said.
Industry observers had expected the movie to open above $20 million. It falls well short of the $33 million debut of Ferrell's 2007 ice-skating comedy "Blades of Glory" and the $47 million bow of his 2006 NASCAR outing "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."
"Semi-Pro," which cost $57 million to make, stars Ferrell as the flamboyant owner of a fictional underdog team in the American Basketball Association, the renegade league taken over by the National Basketball Association in the 1970s.
New Line, also a renegade studio in its heyday, faces a similar fate. Its Time Warner Inc parent announced on Thursday that the 40-year-old studio would be absorbed by its bigger corporate sibling, Warner Bros. Pictures, after a string of costly duds, most recently "The Golden Compass."
A New Line official was not available for comment.
Observers said "Semi-Pro" was hurt by a restrictive "R" rating, which requires viewers under 17 to be accompanied by an adult. "Blades of Glory" and "Talladega Nights" both carried a teen-friendly PG-13 rating. "Semi-Pro" marked the feature directing debut of Kent Alterman, a former New Line executive. Continued...