At first blush, United International Pictures unceremoniously kiboshing the Japanese release of Evan Almighty doesn’t seem like the greatest news in the world for Steve Carell. Pretty much every major studio release gets a shot at the Japanese market. They got Suspect Zero, for cryin’ out loud.
And yet there is a positive side to having your star vehicle denied entrance to a lucrative foreign market. Though Carell is an up-and-coming movie star in the United States thanks to The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Office, neither of these things have made their way over to Japan (American television is especially slow to catch on over there; I think they just discovered The PJs); ergo, it could be argued that UIP is munificently sparing Carell one of the worst pop cultural introductions to an entire country since Lenny Henry in True Identity.
No matter how much this slight will sting Carell, it’s got to be viewed as a massive knee to the nethers for director Tom Shadyac, who’s gone from a bankable director of shitty movies to simply a director of shitty movies. This may not be the end for Shadyac just yet (he’s still made too many people too much money), but his days as an A-list studio comedy filmmaker are effectively over. He was already sentenced to director jail once in his career (for the imbecilic Dragonfly); now, he’s on director death row, and the only guy who could lobby for clemency on his behalf ain’t doing so hot with his own career. I suppose a Jim Carrey/Tom Shadyac comedy could still fire up a greenlight somewhere in Hollywood, but both men would have to be taking drastic pay cuts. Or, more ignominiously, they’d have to make Ace Ventura 3.
I’d say it would be interesting to see what happens next, but that would be a lie. It’s going to be awesome to see what happens next.