Will Ferrell hoping for rebound with "Other Guys"

Fri Aug 6, 2010 3:37am EDT
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By Jay A. Fernandez

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Is it a coincidence that the name of Will Ferrell's character in "The Other Guys" is Gamble?

With his newest big-budget comedy hitting theaters Friday, the A-list funnyman is betting he can deliver not just another hit, but one gigantic enough to erase memories of his most recent movie, the financial tar pit that was "Land of the Lost."

In the decade since he loosened himself from the "Saturday Night Live" tether, Ferrell has delivered half a dozen unqualified mainstream film hits. But last summer, he finally was forced to endure the sudden indignity of an unqualified disaster. "Lost," which Universal released during a prime early-summer June weekend, couldn't break the measly $50 million domestic barrier while carrying a production budget more than twice that.

Adding insult to injury, "The Hangover" crashed theaters that same weekend -- with relatively unknown stars at a quarter of the cost -- on its way to making $277 million domestically.

Now, the 43-year-old "Semi-Pro" star is angling for a rebound. "The Other Guys" reunites Ferrell with writer-director Adam McKay, who helmed three of Ferrell's biggest hits: "Step Brothers," "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" and "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."

"Guys," an $85 million project penned by McKay and "Land" co-writer Chris Henchy, pairs Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as mismatched, second-tier police detectives who get wrapped up in a white-collar crime investigation. The studio expects the comedy to open in the $30 million range of Ferrell hits "Step Brothers" and "Blades of Glory." This same August weekend in 2006, "Talladega" jumped off the line to $47 million, the actor's best.

Another major stumble could do serious damage to the funnyman's upward of $20 million payday and ability to get studio films greenlighted with the same hefty budgets.

Comedies require funny math. They're designed in the inverse of action movies, which do best when built around the biggest stars with the biggest budgets on the biggest global scale for complete saturation. Such recent successes as "Hangover," "Pineapple Express," "Superbad" and "Knocked Up" showed that in the comedy world, the smaller the scale -- a $20 million-$30 million budget -- the more impressive the potential results: $277 million, $87 million, $121 million and $149 million domestically, respectively.   Continued...

<p>Actor Will Ferrell arrives for the premiere of the film "The Other Guys" in New York August 2, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>