In 2013, Hollywood punished us with “Movie 43,” a starry series of sketches that The Post compared to “being waterboarded.” Three years later, “Gods of Egypt” was projectile-vomited into cinemas. That incomprehensible mess turns the deities Horus and Ra into rippled action heroes and holds a 15 percent approval rating on RottenTomatoes. Hot on its chariot was 2017’s “Geostorm,” a “Day After Tomorrow” rip-off that makes you wish for tomorrow like you’re Little Orphan Annie. What do all those duds have in common?
The 49-year-old Scottish actor, who stars as a lighthouse keeper in the shockingly decent new thriller “The Vanishing,” has made so many awful movies, the C in his CV should stand for crapola. Every star has a few career dips: Eddie Redmayne now laughs off his husky-voiced villain role in “Jupiter Ascending” in interviews, and Academy Award winner for “Last King of Scotland” Forest Whitaker once found himself trapped with John Travolta in “Battlefield Earth.” Say 10 Hail Marys and try again, boys.
But for Butler, it’s the opposite. Of the 23 movies he has made in the past 10 years, just five are “fresh” on RottenTomatoes. That sad quintet includes “How To Train Your Dragon,” “How To Train Your Dragon 2” and next month’s “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” — all CGI family films you probably didn’t even know he was in. The fourth is Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus” and the fifth is Guy Ritchie’s “RocknRolla.”
And yet, despite his many bombs, Butler continues to get a steady stream of work. Has your employer ever rewarded you with a bonus for your 22 percent success rate?
Whether the consistently poor quality is a result of his cringe-worthy eyebrow acting or factors outside of the man’s control, like hackneyed writing and direction, he’s become the go-to-guy for tastelessness; an actor who makes Nic Cage’s career look dignified.
Adding to the Butler head-scratcher is the fact that his films rarely make a significant buck. Other than a few notable big hits — “300,” “How To Train Your Dragon” — his projects tend to flop or barely sneak into profitability. “Gods of Egypt,” for instance, made $150 million on a $140 budget, thanks to $119 million of international tickets.
So what is it about Butler that keeps him employed? Perhaps it’s because he’s a stud. The actor has made Glamour UK’s and the UK’s Heart radio station’s sexiest men alive lists multiple times. And there are several fan sites devoted to “The Hot Scot,” such as GerardButlerGals.com and the now-defunct Gerrylicous.com.
But his brooding Euro-style manliness, with a speaking voice to match, begs the question why he was cast as the titular mask-wearing creep in “The Phantom of the Opera” movie-musical. Unfortunately for us, the part required a bit of singing.
Sure, he does solid, subdued work in “The Vanishing,” but a career’s worth of numbers don’t lie. Butler will surely be serving us schlock for many years to come.