Only The Brave

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    [Total: 15 Average: 3.9]
  • Directed By: Joseph Kosinski
  • Written By: Sean Flynn, Ken Nolan, Eric Warren Singer
  • Release Date: October 20, 2017
  • Domestic Distributor: Sony
  • Cast: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, Taylor Kitsch

Box Office Info:
Budget: $38 millionFinanced by: Black Label Media
Domestic Gross: $18,343,983Overseas Gross: $7,410,591


The budget for Only The Brave was $38 million and it was financed by Black Label Media.   Lionsgate was set as domestic distributor and handled international sales to distributors.  Sales were strong, which would limit Black Label’s exposure to the film’s price tag.  Despite a successful collaboration on Sicario and La La Land, Black Label and Lionsgate disagreed over the marketing approach and release dates for Only The Brave and Sicario‘s sequel Soldado.  Only The Brave was first dated for September 22 and after very strong test screening scores, Black label wanted a different approach to sell the picture.  On April 24, 2017 it was announced that Lionsgate would no longer handle domestic distribution for the two movies, but retain international rights and Sony would take over US responsibilities.

Black Label took the movie in a different direction alright and began by changing the title, which was Granite Mountain and changed it to the hokey Only The Brave.  Whether Lionsgate would have cut a better trailer is impossible to say, but what was released hit every familiar note about a noble profession presented as hero worship.  Considering the heavy dose of saccharine valor on display in the marketing materials, it would be damn near impossible to predict that Only The Brave would actually receive decent reviews.

Along with lousy ads that were focus grouped to death toward the heartland of America, Black Label Media then hired Brad Parscale (Trump’s digital media director for his presidential campaign) to target people who are responsive to Trump and push social media ads of the movie toward them.  This is a textbook example of marketing working against a movie.  Perhaps cutting a trailer that focused on the movie’s qualities and strong cast, instead of employing bullshit data analytics and hired consultants would have brought in more auds.  Then again, as Only The Brave was opening in theaters, a wildfire in California that was roughly the size of New York City was uncontrollably ablaze, claiming lives and displacing hundreds of thousands of people — so maybe this is subject matter that was far too raw and topical.

Only The Brave was dated for October 20 and was predictably tracking for a disastrous $6 to $7 million opening.  The movie opened against a slew of low-rent fare — Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, the long delayed Geostorm, The Snowman and the barely wide release of Same Kind of Different as Me.  Only The Brave was dead on arrival with just $6,002,665.  The movie declined 41.7% to $3,502,095 in its second frame and fell 45.2% to $1,920,075 in its third session.  The domestic run closed with a terrible $18,343,983.  Sony would see returned about $10 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even cover 1/3 of the P&A expenses.

The international trailer was the US trailer, which had minimal appeal stateside and likely served as audience repellant overseas.  The offshore cume stalled at just $7.4 million.

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  1. I’m certain that Rocky thought he was going to be watching yet another super hero retread hence, angst. Not to worry though, the likes of Rocky make up the body of film goers who in their infinite wisdom and never ending search for cinematic bliss relegated Touch of Evil, Night of the Hunter, It’s a Wonderful Life, Once Upon a Time in the West, Blade Runner, etc., to box office failure. But we can thank them because without their insights into the qualities that insure greatness, the aforementioned films and so many others may have never found their champions and in time audiences that have stretched across the generations. The Rocky’s of generations past lavished the films of their time with great success but in most cases few can remember what films those were. And so too, in this time the, films of the Rocky’s will make big office and then be forgotten.

    As to Only the Brave, Rocky never mentions why the film is bad. Is the script sometimes clumsy? Yes. Are there moments lifted from and seen in other films of this genre? Yes. Could certain events that relate the history of The Granite Mountain Hotshots been replaced by other events that more importantly represented why GMHS was so very important to Prescott, AZ and the entire Wild land Fire fighting community and perhaps given a foundation to their decision to defend Yarnell, AZ? Yes. Could time have been devoted to examining why and how such a tragedy could happen? Yes. Absolutely, there are faults with the film but there is also beauty to be found in the story of the brave souls who were lost.

    From the fine score, performances especially by Brolin and Connelly, great cinematography and realistic recreation of the fires and perhaps above all, the care that went into trying to honor those lost, if Only the Brave motivates a single person to learn more about what happened at Yarnell Hill AZ or to recognize the courage and sacrifice made by our wild land fire community then the film warts and all is well worth anyone’s time.

    Special mention needs to made about the way the film was promoted. Most viewers not realizing the film was based on a true story were stunned by the ending. The two times I saw it, many viewers were sitting in their seats when the lights came up crying. This film was not a mystery story and never should have been treated as such. It is and was the story of 20 brave men 19 of whom gave their the lives to defend a small town called Yarnell, AZ. Their sacrifice should have been front and center in the advertising campaign with the audience going in knowing they were paying tribute to REAL American Heroes not a spandex wearing cartoon.

    Will Only the Brave find an audience in time? Hard to say but this I’ll bet 10 super hero movies on, 20 years from now it will still be remembered reverently while the latest Marvel mediocrity is inseparable from the 10 that before and after it. GRANITE MOUNTAIN 19…..NEVER FORGOTTEN!!

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