Mother’s Day is the latest film in a series with a successful formula: A star-studded ensemble comedy/drama that takes occasional turns to the romantic, heartwarming, and maudlin, while remaining focused on a particular holiday, and is directed by the octogenarian comedy legend Garry Marshall. The first two films, 2010’s Valentine’s Day and the following year’s New Year’s Eve, may not have been well-received by critics, but both were decent-sized box office hits, earning over $110 million and $54 million, respectively.
Mother’s Day, though, doesn’t appear to have been as successful. The film earned just $8 million domestically in its opening weekend, placing it fourth behind The Jungle Book, The Huntsman: Winter’s War and fellow debut Keanu. And now there’s a new headline about the film that’s sure to grab some attention.
According to a Variety report, Julia Roberts, one of the film’s many stars, was paid $3 million for her work on the film. While a star of Roberts’ stature earning that much money isn’t unheard of, the fact that she was paid such a sum for four days of work may be a little more unusual, especially when you consider that salary was the equivalent of more than a third of the film’s opening-weekend box office.
The film also stars Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, and Timothy Olyphant. It earned some pretty brutal reviews, and has led some to wonder whether Roberts’ is in something of a box office slump, with other recent films of hers like Mirror, Mirror, and Secret in Their Eyes also underperforming. Given that Mother’s Day is an ensemble, though, it would be unwise to suggest it’s disappointing box office had much to do with any one star — regardless of how many days they worked — or that it will be much more than a blip on Roberts’ career.
But why did Mother’s Day perform so badly? The less-than-stellar reviews certainly didn’t help, nor did the decision to put Roberts in a wig that was itself a kind of joke in Notting Hill. Another reason might have been that the film was less of a romantic comedy than Marshall’s first two holiday-themed pictures. Then again, as mentioned above, the first two movies did not garner glowing reviews, so perhaps the formula has simply worn thin after two similar attempts.
As for Roberts, her box office potency has been questioned at various points before — remember the string of post-Pretty Woman flops in the early ‘90s? — but her career as a movie star has had nearly three decades of staying power. And she was also paid $3 million for a negligible amount of screen time in the much more successful Valentine’s Day, so there’s history to point to that suggests this was just the studio following a previous success with one formulaic copy too many.
Mother’s Day is currently playing in theaters.