The movie had a built-in fan base, from the immensely popular James Patterson book series. It had a solid, popular lead with crossover potential in Alex Cross, and another capable lead actor playing the heavy in Matthew Fox (with his own big fanbase from Lost). It had a prime October release date.
So what happened? Why did Alex Cross fail at the box office, only making around $20 million on a $35 million budget? Here’s our list of what happened to make Cross such a bomb.
REASON #1 – It was too far out of Perry’s non-Madea roles. Typecasting is a tough thing in Hollywood; when an actor is completely associated with a certain role, its hard – but not impossible – for him or her to bust out of that. Michael Keaton will always be Batman; Harrison Ford will always be Han Solo or Indiana Jones; David Duchovny will always be Mulder. Perry, of course, has played non-Madea characters before (he was especially good in the two Why Did I Get Married? films) but nothing like the lead character in Cross; audiences may have just found this role as a bit too much of a departure.
REASON #2 – That trailer freaked people out. Wow. Talk about an advertising misfire. The trailer (you can check it out below) was a strange mishmash of shotgun-wielding badass / family-man detective Cross and the creepily jacked serial killer played by an unhinged, overacting Matthew Fox – topped off by a rocket-launcher attack. It wasn’t exciting; it was just odd.
REASON #3 – The source material was weak. The James Patterson books started off as completely reliable, page-turner thrillers, riding the crest of the Silence of the Lambs serial-killer hunter wave from the early 1990s and perfect for on-the-beach book reading. Unfortunately, Patterson’s Cross books have been rather uninspired for the last several years, and the book Alex Cross was adopted from was one of his weakest offerings. Maybe a revamp of Kiss the Girls or Along Came a Spider – the two best books in the Cross series – would have been better.
REASON #4 – It just wasn’t good. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best. The movie sits at a really rotten 13% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critics slamming Fox’s overacting, the direction of flashmaster supreme Rob Cohen, and a weak screenplay. Modern audiences can smell a bad movie … and they won’t go see a bad movie.