Johansson Hits Back at 'Island' Producers

Scarlett Johansson is furious that producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald have blamed her and Ewan McGregor for the box-office failure of their big-budget film "The Island."

The screen beauty was staggered by their recent attack, which included a comment on their website claiming "even lesser television actresses would have more connection to that audience" than Johansson did in The Island.

Johannson rages, "This is a clear-cut example of the producers passing the buck and not taking responsibility for their part in making calculated mistakes throughout the film's marketing. (I am) proud of (my) performance and the film."


Elessar Oronro

Joss Whedon

That's too bad. Johanssen was one of the main reasons I went to see that film. And she WAS good in it. The marketing, for some reason, didn't get people in the theatres. But it was an action-packed good time. Guess she won't be working with them any time soon.

Aug 18 - 01:05 AM


Kenny Öberg

Scarlett is cool!

Aug 18 - 03:48 AM

The Senhman

Senh Duong

Yep, the studio did a pretty bad job of marketing that film. That's the problem with being a star, you get blamed for a film's failure...but you also get the credit for its success.

Aug 18 - 03:57 AM


Brave Sir Rob

Yep, that was a pretty tacky move by the producers. Don't listen to them, Scarlett! We love you!

Aug 18 - 06:56 AM


mynameis mynameis

you can pretty much blame Micheal Bay for this mess of a movie.

Aug 18 - 08:05 AM


Brandon Rowells

I personally thought Scarlett and Ewan were the best parts of the movie... the rest of it was mediocre at best.

Aug 18 - 09:14 AM


frank ford

scarlett was the worst part. she was pretty bad! but it's everybodys fault how about that. let's just blame everybody that had anything to do with this movie.

Aug 18 - 09:29 AM


laurent de alberti

I just saw it and really liked it, much more than I expected. And Scarlett is right to say that the film was badly marketed, the trailer made it look like some dodgy 70's Logan's run spin off, yet it had probably one of the best car chase I have ever seen, a cut above the Matrix reloaded, and was a very entertaining yet smart film.

It's a pretty lame move from the producers to blame the actors, I think they were both brilliant and totally right for the parts.

Aug 18 - 12:23 PM


Mike Werkman

Parkes and MacDonald Exposed

Producers Kicking Sand in the Faces of the Stars of "The Island"

The recent flap between the producers of "The Island" and Scarlett Johansson is a classic example of the Internet Age colliding with an old-school CYA attempt. It is also a good example of celebrity reporting turned misleading/slanderous.

The WENN service took the comments made by Parkes and MacDonald about the stars and embellished them all the way into a seeming attack on Johansson's professionalism. Personally I am glad they have been forced to eat their real words but even they were victimized by this episode. The moral of the story: Watch what you say, even on some obscure web site, it might come back to haunt you.


August 9, 2005 - Husband and wife producing team Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald have become two of the most successful producers in the business over the course of the past decade. Their hit list is too long to list, but a few of the highlights include Men in Black 1 and 2, Gladiator and The Mask of Zorro.
Earlier this year Parkes and MacDonald had the horror sequel hit The Ring Two and it looked as they were on the brink of another with the July 22nd release of The Island. Helmed by A-List action director Michael Bay and starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlet Johansson, the original sci-fi action epic looked to be one of the tent pole releases of summer 2005. A lot can change in three weeks in Hollywood.
With a production budget well over $100 million dollars, The Island opened to a highly disappointing 12.4 million and has grossed only $31.4 million to date total domestic and $55.4 total worldwide.
This weekend press had the chance to talk to Parkes and McDonald at a press event to promote the upcoming Reese Witherspoon DreamWorks romantic comedy Just Like Heaven. Although talk ultimately shifted to the subject at hand, the question of 'What went wrong with The Island' was the unavoidable starting point for the interview.
"I think there's a lot of things to think about," says Parkes. There's two ways to think about it: There's let's think about what all of us didn't recognize in terms of the conceptual limitations of the movie. Most people think it's a really good movie and it plays well with an audience, but for some reason the idea of the movie as presented in marketing did not appeal? And then you have to look at or is this an indication of changes in the audience that are bigger than any one movie."
"On the movie side, it's a bad title. It's a title that refers to something that doesn't exist in the movie. You might say, 'Oh well, so what?' But really from the title comes the advertising campaign and from the campaign comes the image people have of what they may or may not see, so that was a problem."
MacDonald concurs: "It is, quite honestly, something we talked about later into the process of marketing the movie and almost made a change, but that's also a difficult decision, when you've already gone into production with a title and it's kinda in the air."
Another theory that has been mentioned is that the advertising campaign possibly gave away too much of the story. Parkes: "The reason why some people felt we gave away too much is because the story didn't distill down to a simple concept that could be rendered in a few words or a few scenes. I can easily tell you about two guys in black suits with sunglasses and big guns who protect us from the aliens [where] we don't know are all around us and you go, 'OK, I'll take that...' It's a very distinct concept. If I tried to do that on The Island, it doesn't come down that well? Without that clear conceptual hook, we ended up having to actually present too much, but it actually seemed to be more confusing, as opposed to elucidating to the audience."

Yet another factor is the perception in Hollywood that Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor were bigger stars than they actually were. "Listen," says Parkes. "Those are superstars of the future, those two actors, they're not superstars of the present?

MacDonald: "I think within the industry, we think they are bigger stars, particularly Scarlett - both of them, we know Ewan's not a star, but he's such a good actor."
"[We] loved Lost in Translation, says Parkes. [I] admired it and it's extraordinary. It made $30 million and that was a big hit for that movie?"
"[Scarlett] is not owned by this sort of young generation at all," MacDonald admits. "Even lesser television actresses, quite honestly, would have more connection to that audience."
"We've done this a long time and we've made so many movies. It was a big risk to go out with an original, and what turned out to be a difficult, idea and in summer, you're going out in a highly competitive time. What everyone will do now, though, is you'll probably be a little more conservative in what you spend, the kind of casting you need to feel assured you can open t

Aug 18 - 01:38 PM

Elessar Oronro

Joss Whedon

You cannot blame Michael Bay. The Island was one of his best films. The fault lies in the marketing. Perhaps this film would have done better in the fall or spring without so much competition.

Both Johannsen and McGregor are well-respected. the fault does NOT lie with them.

As much as I enjoyed the Island, the car chase was not as spectacular at the Matrix: Reloaded. The Island was a much better film, but Reloaded's car chase will be hard to top.

Aug 18 - 03:25 PM


CrazyGhost78 CrazyGhost78

[b]The Island was one of his best films...[/b]
That's not saying much. It is the fault of Bay, whoever wrote this knockoff of Clonus, the producers, and the marketing team. NOT the actors. It could possibly be in another circumstance, but McGregor and Johannsen aren't half bad actors.

Aug 18 - 04:03 PM


Nancy Elizabeth

That's crazy. Scarlett did wonderfully. Granted, it's not even near her performance in Lost and Translation but you can only do much with the material you are given.

Aug 18 - 04:23 PM


Eric Hwang

[b]The idea is the problem...[/b]
You wanna know why The Island tanked? It's actually pretty simple. There's just no one who's going to buy a Michael Bay film that's actually attempting to be a "good" movie. Any time Michael Bay tries to make any kind of film that even SUGGESTS that he has an IQ higher than celery it tanks. Which is ironic because I think the Island really does convince me that Bay has an IQ higher than celery. But only slightly higher. Maybe more like broccoli. But regardless of whether he's an idiot or an imbecile, no one wants to see Michael Bay be intelligent.

The idea for this package was pretty clear. It was supposed to unify two audiences that were diametrically opposed to each other. The Michael Bay action movie fans who made Bad Boys II and Armageddon the successes that they were and then the more mature action movie fans that prefer smart plotting and character and all manner of things that "good" movies have.

The crowds looking for intelligent action movie fare gave Bay a chance with Pearl Harbor, which opened to high expectations, but died a quick death heard round the world. And those crowds just decided not to give him a second chance with the Island. And hey, after Pearl Harbor, who could blame them?

And the fans of the big, dumb, blustery action movie fare like Bad Boys II or Armageddon took no interest in The Island because those aren't the kinds of people who want to have ambiguous questions of existentialist dread mixed in with their explosions and freeway chases. And hey, after Pearl Harbor, who can blame them?

And that pretty much leaves no one else who would possibly consider seeing this movie. It was more or less doomed from the start. It's most certainly not Johansson's or MacGregor's faults. Blaming them would be like blaming the Titanic passengers for the iceberg.

And it's not really Michael Bay's fault, he's just trying to make a good movie, which is what he was hired to do this time (kinda a change of pace for him). The thing is, Michael Bay makes Kodak commercials. Literally. And his movies reflect his Kodak commercial style. Slick, pretty, and designed to sell you the image, but not the content. Works fine if you're not trying to sell the content. But I guess Bay's having a bit of a crisis of artistic conscience and wants to be at least a little more substanceful. So he's a bit of a risky race horse right now. Sorta like when Michael Jordan was playing baseball. It's a totally different game and he knows how to play it, but not nearly as well as the game he grew up on. Of course, regardless of how good he was, no one wanted to see Jordan play baseball. It's more or less the same thing here, and the same reason why Jim Carrey's movies gross less when they're dramas. Once the public has an image of you, it'll take an awful lot to get them to let you change that image.

So the only people to blame for the failure of the Island are the people who hired Michael Bay to make a "good" movie instead of a stupid blockbuster. And it sounds like that was probably MacDonald and Parkes. Which would explain all the frantic blame-shifting on their parts.

Aug 18 - 05:27 PM


Ken Schrock

Scarlett, Bay, and McGregor did just fine. I say screw the producers and the advertising campain that did give away to much.

Aug 18 - 07:53 PM


Inessa Lenin

Actors just did their job, Performance!
It's hard to tell if the script is bad until the film released, they just pick the role which they thought to show their acting.

Aug 18 - 08:00 PM


Victoria Leduc

Why do people blame the actors and actresses for being in bad movies? Blame it on the directors, producers, studios, etc.

Those producers should blame theirselves.

Aug 18 - 09:26 PM


Nathan Scott

Death to Hollywood producers

Aug 18 - 11:21 PM

The Fume

Brian Miklos

I think it was pretty clear from the articles in sooner's post that the producers were not blaming Scarlett's acting in the film. Instead, they were blaming themselves (and the casting director) for overestimating the pull Scarlett, and to a lesser extent Ewan, would have with the intended audience of the film. The high school boys and big-budget action fans this film was made for are not going to be drawn in by Scarlett, even though she is absolutley gorgeous; not too many people who were impressed by Scarlett in Lost in Translation are going to see a Michael Bay flick. Their statement was clearly taken out of context in the other articles. They were not saying that "lesser television actresses" would be better in the film, they would just have more of a following among the intended audience for the film.

Aug 19 - 05:09 AM


chris eoff

^ That's a good point. The media loves mudslinging, and they could have quite possibly taken the producers comments out of context to make them seem insulting. I think Ewen and Scarlett are both great actors, and I will always enjoy seeing their movies. But the producers are probably right, if they had put jennifer garner in the movie, and then marketed it toward the alias audience, it probably would have made a bit more money. It's not that garner can hold a candle to scarlett, because she can't, but I think an actress like garner would be more accepted in a bay film. I haven't seen the island yet, but I want to. I like most of bay's films, they're enjoyable. Armageddon I think was as much about the characters as it was about the action, It doesn't necessarilly have to be "smart" to be a good movie (although bay is one of the few action directors left who can make a dumb movie enjoyable). It's a shame for scarlett and ewen that this movie didn't perform, I only hope it doesn't hurt their careers, because they definitly deserve more.

Aug 19 - 10:05 AM

lavatory love machine

juan carlos petruchi

the movie failed because of michael bay (aka worst hack in hollywood)

the denial fo the producers to admit this fact reminds me of the denial of the goverment to admit the irak war was all about the oil

Aug 19 - 12:59 PM


Anna C

Go girl! producers are assholes

Aug 20 - 09:46 AM

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