Heartland Hanks: ‘Man Called Otto’ Scores with Red States

Source: Hollywood in Toto
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Tom Hanks is no longer a box office draw in the traditional sense.

Hanks’ recent work either debuted on streaming platforms (“Greyhound,” “Finch”), drew withering reviews (“Pinocchio”) or failed to draw a crowd in theaters (“News of the World”).

That’s no slight against the two-time Oscar winner. Most stars today can’t guarantee box office success.

Hanks’ latest film, “A Man Called Otto,” is reversing that trend. The film opened in just a few theaters late last year but slowly ramped up its screen total. And the results are proving to be impressive.

It grossed $15.3 million in its third–weekend wide expansion over the four-day MLK weekend, well surpassing its $8M projection.

That’s stunning given the recent failures of more highly regarded dramas like “The Fabelmans,” “Tar” and “Till.”

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“Otto” casts Hanks as Otto Anderson, a retiree considering suicide following the death of his wife. His mood lightens after meeting his new neighbors, a Mexican family who need Otto’s particular set of life skills.

Otto can drive a stick-shift car, fix things around the house and perform tasks today’s Millennials can only dream of tackling.


Critics haven’t saved “Otto” from box office doom. The film sports a fine but hardly spectacular 69 percent “fresh” rating, with many reviewers (this one included) panning the film. General audiences adore the film, though, giving it a 97 percent tally at Rotten Tomatoes.

Several left-leaning news outlets are crediting the film’s connection with Heartland audiences as the movie’s “It” factor.

“There’s 3,000 miles between Los Angeles and New York City, and Hollywood should start making movies for them!” one veteran producer screamed to me at a recent awards-season event…

True, we’ve had movies like Top Gun: Maverick and American Sniper that have played to the heartland, but there’s the belief more movies catering to Middle America are needed to help the box office surge back to pre-Covid levels, particularly with a greater proportion of mid-grossing titles.

Variety, no ally of Heartland values, shared a similar sentiment regarding the film’s box office haul. The site reports that the film’s studio sensed its red-state potential and leaned into it.

But in its second weekend, Sony heavily concentrated on cinemas in the heartland as it brought the film to 637 venues, believing the heartfelt story would resonate deeply across the country, not just on the coasts. By that Sunday, “Otto” had earned $3.76 million and placed fourth on domestic box office charts despite playing in significantly fewer theaters than its competitors.

Hanks’ character is a throwback in more ways than one. Yet the film doesn’t discard or diminish him. “Otto” is a comeback story, following a curmudgeon who grows beyond his crusty exterior. And it’s his knack for fixing what needs to be fixed which opens the door to his salvation.

That’s proving to be catnip for audiences. And Hanks, often called this generation’s Jimmy Stewart, is the right man for the job.

The post Heartland Hanks: ‘Man Called Otto’ Scores with Red States appeared first on Hollywood in Toto.

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