Studio speaks out in defence of Mother! in the face of audience backlash

Ben Bussey
UK Movies Writer
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem in ‘mother!’ (Credit: Paramount)

Jennifer Lawrence’s new movie, the heavily promoted ‘mother!,’ isn’t going down as well as hoped at the box office – but studio Paramount are standing by the film, and its makers.

Despite some enthusiastic early reviews following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and some bold marketing moves, the $30 million-budgeted film from writer-director Darren Aronofsky (‘Black Swan,’ ‘Noah’) took only $13.5 million worldwide on its opening weekend. More damningly, it earned a rare F rating from Cinemascore, as US site which polls audience reactions to a film on its opening.

However, Paramount’s president of marketing and distribution Megan Colligan has issued a public statement in defence of ‘mother!,’ declaring, “This movie is very audacious and brave. You are talking about a director at the top of his game, and an actress at the top her game.

“They made a movie that was intended to be bold. Everyone wants original filmmaking, and everyone celebrates Netflix when they tell a story no one else wants to tell. This is our version. We don’t want all movies to be safe. And it’s okay if some people don’t like it.”

Promoted as a horror movie but defying easy genre categorisation, ‘mother!’ casts Oscar-winners Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple whose idyllic life in a quiet country house is disturbed by the arrival of strangers – but that’s only the tip of the iceberg for an abstract, often confrontational film which combines oblique Biblical allegory with ecological and feminist subtext.

From that description alone it’s clear that ‘mother!’ was never going to be to all tastes. Even so, there’s plenty to be admired about a major studio agreeing to bankroll something so out of the ordinary.

Dividing opinions far and wide, ‘mother!’ is currently rated 6.8 at IMDb, whilst at Rotten Tomatoes it’s rated 69% fresh by the critics, although only 42% of users say they liked it.

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