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

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.

RELATED: Jennifer Lawrence’s Predictable Transformation

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.

PASSENGERS - Official Trailer (HD)

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.


  1. I want to see Passengers. I love Chris Pratt and not just because I live near Lake Stevens.
    But I can’t get anyone else to go with me and Jennifer Lawrence is the reason.
    Probably go stag this weekend and see it but I suspect the theater will be lonely.

  2. Please. I’ll whisper the reason the film has struggled. Ready? THE ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE!!!! Too soft? LOL. But it just made 7 million this Sunday, and probably will go above $100 million or thereabouts. Also that letter was quite measured compared to the complete meltdown from everywhere else. Most people aren’t so petty and frankly making everything political is exhausting. There is no upside when an actor talks about politics, but whatever. Not exactly uncommon.
    I get it. People had these articles rearing to go. We’ll show her. How dare she be so successful!? But I could have sworn Chris Pratt was in the same film. So if the film struggles it is all her fault? Actually she was the bright spot of the film, which wasn’t nearly as bad as the critics made out. Just a bit frustrating because it could have been better imho. But worth a watch.

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