I saw John Hillcoat’s Triple 9 last week, and I was supposed to review it, but there was no early screening in my area and a sick kid kept me from seeing it on Friday afternoon, so I ended up seeing it on Friday night. I came home to write the review, got sidetracked by something else, and I completely forgot about the film until this morning. It wasn’t a bad movie; it was just relentlessly grim and unexceptional, except for the cast: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer, Clifton Collins Jr., Michael K. Williams (as a female prostitute), and Norman Reedus. For fans of great actors, it’s hard to beat that ensemble.
In spite of the cast (and a Black List script), Triple 9 was nevertheless grim and mostly forgettable, a well-made, well-acted, well-scripted movie that couldn’t get out of the way of its own bleakness.
Reedus himself doesn’t have much of a role — in a movie with a stellar cast that large, screentime is basically doled out according to StarMeter ratings, and as beloved as Reedus is on The Walking Dead, he’s not much of a big screen actor. In fact, no one on The Walking Dead is. The actors hugely benefit from roles in the biggest show on TV, but that star power does not translate into movie theaters. There’s nary a box-office hit among them.
The evidence is as follows:
Andrew Lincoln: Hasn’t even bothered to make a film since they began on the series. The same can be said for Emily Kinney, Scott Wilson, Sonequa Martin-Green, Alanna Masterson, and Michael Cudlitz.
Steven Yeun: Has one credit, second-billed in a Michael Pitt movie called I Origins, which made $335,000 at the box office.
Melissa McBride: McBride was in The Reconstruction of William Zero, which is listed as being released last April, and it has six reviews (they were not favorable), but there is no evidence that it earned anything at the box office.
Lauren Cohan has a decent shot at breaking out outside of The Walking Dead, but she’s thus far been unsuccessful with Reach Me, which looks like it went straight to Red Box, and The Boy, which should have gone straight to Redbox (it earned $34 million). She will, however, play Martha Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so she will be able to claim credit for a box-office hit, though I don’t think she’ll have much to do with it.
Danai Gurira has only starred in one movie, Mother of George, which earned only $145,000, but she’s also been busy writing plays for TK’s sister to put on Broadway.
Laurie Holden was in Dumb and Dumber To, although I don’t think many people would want to remember that, including Holden herself (the film did do modestly at the box office with $86 million).
Sarah Wayne Callies was actually in a movie that performed reasonably well. Into the Storm made $47 million on a $50 million budget. In spite of that, I have never heard of Into the Storm. Callies has also been in Black November (straight to Redbox), Faces in the Crowd (no box office), Foreverland (unreleased), Pay the Ghost with Nic Cage (straight to home release), and this weekend’s The Other Side of the Door, which opened with a measly $1.2 million.
Chandler Riggs, believe it or not, actually tested the box-office waters, too, starring in Mercy, a Stephen King adaptation with Mark Duplass. It did not get a theatrical release.
And then there’s Norman Reedus, who was known for a couple cult movies before The Walking Dead, Boondock Saints and its sequel. Excluding cameos, since he began on The Walking Dead things haven’t panned out for the would-be breakout star of the series. Last year’s Robert Kirkman produced Air did not get a theatrical release; Sky (unrelated to Air) co-starring Diane Kruger also appears not to have received a theatrical release; ditto Sunlight, Jr. and Night of the Templar. In fact, it seems that Triple 9, which mustered only $6 million in its opening weekend, is Reedus’ biggest box-office hit since he began work on The Walking Dead.
All of which is to say that, many of Hollywood’s best actors may be moving to the television side, but even the most popular television actors have trouble breaking into the feature film side.