Jason Bateman has had a successful few years following the monumental success of the Netflix series Ozark, proving he can turn his hand to serious roles, and there’s much more to his skills than light comedic relief.
In the years before Bateman landed that career-defining role, the actor had been traversing what appeared to be a somewhat tricky career path. Bateman had become typecast in tired comedy films in Hollywood, but there had been some box office hits along the way, even if they didn’t artistically fulfil him as much as he would have liked. Bateman desperately needed Ozark, and it helped re-establish his career.
Over the preceding decade, his commercially most successful role was alongside Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day in Horrible Bosses. As far as Hollywood is concerned, it had a modest budget of $35 million and turned over almost eight times as much at the box office.
Understandably, the Hollywood machine saw the dollar signs and wanted to milk the franchise for every penny possible. At the time, The Hangover was a money-spinner, and Warner Bros wanted to repeat that success with Horrible Bosses.
The sequel arrived three years later, but the response from the audience was much flatter than they expected. Although the budget was much more significant, the revenue was a lot less than its predecessor, and Bateman admitted that the project “did not do any money”.
During an appearance on Marc Maron’s podcast, Bateman gave his opinion on why the movie flopped. “The second one was garbage, as far as box office goes,” he honestly admitted. “Who knows whether it was on the merits or when they released it, but it did not do any money.”
The Arrested Development star also called the project “a paycheck for [the cast]” and joked that the sequel was the audience’s fault for watching the first one. “Don’t go out and buy a bunch of tickets for the first one unless you want a second one because we don’t have any discipline in this town,” he laughed.
Bateman also believed the timing of the release was another issue as it was released during the Thanksgiving holidays, despite not being a film fit for families to watch together. He added: “It’s just a question of, did anybody really care [about a sequel]? People basically just weren’t interested in seeing another one. [People thought,] ‘And it’s Thanksgiving, and I’m with my family, and I’m not going to take my mom and dad to go see cock jokes.’ I guess there is a reason R-rated comedies don’t get released during a big family vacation.”
Sometimes things are best left alone, and Horrible Bosses is another example of the tired brains of Hollywood regurgitating old ideas rather than being adventurous. Not every semi-successful film needs to have a sequel, and the sooner this lesson is learned, the better.