‘Rock of Ages’ sinks like a stone

Rock of Ages

Looks like the movie adaption of a musical named after a Def Leppard song is a box office bust – opening in the third spot behind Prometheus and Madagascar 3.  With an estimated budget of $75 million, it only took in $15 million it’s opening weekend.

From Deadline Hollywood:

 …New Line/Warner Bros’ Rock Of Ages (3,470 theaters) fell to earth with a thud. Which Hollywood expected because the pic had been tracking poorly for weeks (and even went down at one point week to week). The studio felt the 1980s period piece was a hard sell to younger moviegoers. I suspect the problem was casting. Russell Brand has been repellant to moviegoers, while Tom Cruise as iconic rocker proved just too incredulous for audiences. The PG-13 musical is looking to open to only $15M this weekend after taking in just $5.3M Friday and $5.4M Saturday. Given that the pic was based on the Broadway warbler, it did worse than the studio expected and far worse than Mamma Mia which with the same pedigree opened to $27M. Warner Bros was holding out hope for this $75M-budget pic, thinking that a good CinemaScore could generate great word of mouth and therefore great legs for the film. It didn’t materialize: audiences only gave Rock Of Ages a mediocre ‘B’. There’s just no way to save this s(t)inker with hack director Adam Shankman at the helm: in fact, weekend gross may fall below $15M by Monday.

I haven’t seen it myself, but the movie adaptation was going to have a hard time bringing in a large audience for a number of reasons.  Few fans of 80s rock have any interest in hearing those songs butchered a la “Glee,” for one.  Not to mention Tom Cruise is pretty much box office poison at this point due to his loony antics a few years back, and simply isn’t believable as a “rock god” – when I saw the trailer in a crowded theater last year, there was an audible groan from the audience as the camera whipped around to reveal Stacey Jaxx for the first time.

Def Leppard re-records classic hits

Def Leppard has been rather busy these days, looking to capitalize on the movie adaptation of “Rock of Ages” coming out this week.  They start their summer tour with Poison and Lita Ford this month, and performed on The Tonight Show as well as YouTube Presents:


Last week they released re-recordings of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and the song from which the movie/play got it’s name.  From the Associated Press via Pollstar:

AP: Why did you decide to release re-recorded versions of “Rock of Ages” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me” this summer?

Joe Elliott: Our work is not available on any digital domain, except for the last album, the Mirrorball album, because it’s a catalog issue with the record label, so we just wanted studio versions of those songs available for this summer because of the film coming out.

AP: What was it like re-recording those classics?

Joe Elliott: We had to be really careful that we actually studied them, literally like forgeries. It’s like Donald Pleasence in “The Great Escape” doing passports. It’s got to be exactly the same to fool the old German guard. That’s the same thing with these songs. We wanted them to have the same energy, that youthful exuberance we had in ‘83 and ‘87, so people that are sympathetic to our cause listen to them and say, “Wow, they’ve still got it. They can perform the songs the way they did back then.”

While purists may think it’s sacrilege, I’m generally a fan of bands re-recording their classic material – off the top of my head, Chicago, KISS, and Foreigner have all re-recorded some of their biggest hits in the past few years.  I’m a production snob, and recording techniques/equipment today are (usually) far superior to what they had access to decades ago.

And there’s usually a financial incentive for the bands who do this as well – in Def Leppard’s case, they are in a struggle with Mercury Records (their label up until recently) to get their material released on iTunes, Amazon, etc.  So they went into the studio on their own dime to re-record the tunes so they don’t have to deal with their former label.

The Leps played it straight with these new recordings, attempting to duplicate the 80s versions as closely as possible. Of the two cuts, “Rock of Ages” sounds more like the original than “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”  It’s a much more straightforward song; Mutt Lange’s production on “Sugar” (and all of the Hysteria album for that matter) was so over-the-top, it would be nearly impossible to duplicate it perfectly.

It will be interesting to see if they continue to do this with more of their hits.  A full-length album, perhaps?

Buy ‘Rock of Ages’: Amazon | iTunes
Buy ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’: Amazon | iTunes