The movie is Gibson’s first major studio film in 15 years and his first comedy since ‘What Women Want’ in 2000.
Last year, Mel Gibson busted out of director’s jail with Hacksaw Ridge, the acclaimed war drama that earned $175.3 million at the worldwide box office and scored key Oscar nominations, including best picture and best director.
Over the weekend, Gibson made another comeback — this time as an actor — with the better-than-expected $30 million debut of Daddy’s Home 2. The Paramount movie is Gibson’s first major Hollywood studio film since Signs in 2002, and his first studio comedy since What Women Want in 2000.
Daddy’s Home 2 boasts the second-best opening of the year to date for a comedy after Girls Trip ($31.7 million). Families turned out in force to see the PG-13 romp, making up 37 percent of the audience. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reprise their roles as dueling dads in the holiday-themed sequel, which introduces Gibson and John Lithgow as their fathers. The first Daddy’s Home debuted to $38 million, but had the advantage of opening over Christmas weekend.
Box-office analyst Paul Dergarbedian says Gibson’s appearance in the movie didn’t prove a deterrent, and may have even raised its profile. “If Gibson can stay the course, his prospects as an actor seem bright — something unimaginable just a few short years ago,” Degarabedian says.
Gibson was ostracized by Hollywood for the better part of a decade after he made scathing anti-Semitic statements during a second DUI arrest in summer 2006. The popular actor and Oscar-winning Braveheart director quickly apologized, but the damage was done. In an open letter, uber agent Ari Emanuel, then at Endeavor, said the industry couldn’t let Gibson get away with “such tragically inflammatory statements.” (He later dumped Gibson as an agency client.)
Gibson didn’t play a leading role again until Edge of Darkness in 2010. The political thriller, financed and produced independently by GK Films and BBC Films, topped out at $81 million globally against an $80 million budget. Warner Bros. released the film in North America, but it was a straight distribution deal via the studio’s relationship with GK Films.
Not long after Edge of Darkness played in theaters, Gibson was once again the subject of scrutiny when tapes were leaked of him making racist and misogynist comments to his former partner.
Gibson next starred in Jodie Foster’s independent film The Beaver, which flopped following its release in May 2011, grossing $7.2 million against a $20 million budget. He played a small role in Machete Kills in 2013 before joining the ensemble cast of Millennium’s The Expendables 3 (2014).
It wasn’t until the success of Hacksaw Ridge that the major studios began courting Gibson for acting roles. He landed the part in Daddy’s Home 2 in late January after Oscar noms were announced. Sources close to the film say Wahlberg, who is represented by Emanuel, pressed for Gibson to be cast.
Gibson has two films in postproduction, including The Professor and the Madman, which has been derailed by a legal battle between various parties, including Gibson’s production company Icon, and producer Voltage Pictures. Gibson stars in the film opposite Sean Penn.
The other movie is Lionsgate/Summit’s Dragged Against Concrete, a gritty crime-thriller from Bone Tomahawk filmmaker S. Craig Zahler that co-stars Vince Vaughn.
Not everyone in Hollywood is ready to forgive Gibson. Filmmaker Mark Duplass tweeted Nov. 8 that he would be boycotting Daddy’s Home 2.
“I like so many of the people involved so I hate to do this but I must say NOPE NO WAY to Daddy’s Home 2 bc it stars Mel Gibson and it’s 2017 and there are plenty of great movies to see this weekend in theaters,” Duplass tweeted.