Somehow a movie starring the controversial Mel Gibson–as a depressed toy executive who will only communicate with others through his beaver hand puppet–bombed at the box office in limited release, despite the full-on support of mental health organizations and decent reviews from critics.
Outliers: Social-action effort fails to keep 'Beaver' afloat
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the organizations backing the movie “The Beaver,” sponsored a social-action campaign to raise awareness of mental illness that was tied to the movie’s release, a campaign that included efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and depression and provide support tools and resources to families of loved ones who are mentally ill. (Information on the campaign can be found at ParticipantMedia.com.) NAMI was even able to snag an interview with director and co-star Jodie Foster for its magazine, Advocate.
Not for nothing do both Gibson and Foster have Academy Awards. Reviewers were mostly positive on “The Beaver,” which got “fresh” ratings from 62% of critics tracked on the website RottenTomatoes.com as of May 12. Nonetheless, the good reviews and positive mental health message were not enough to attract many viewers. The Los Angeles Times said the movie flopped with an estimated opening weekend gross of $104,000, resulting in what it called “a paltry” per-theater average of $4,745.
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