‘Hangover’ puts a hurt on Universal, Will Ferrell

In Hollywood, bad news travels fast. I was sitting in the stands Saturday evening at a Little League playoff game when one of my fellow coaches, who happens to work in the business, leaned over and shared the news -- "Land of the Lost" was a goner, getting trounced by "The Hangover." 

The Will Ferrell film ended up a distant third to "The Hangover" and "Up," making $18.7 million in its opening weekend, an especially woeful number for a movie that cost $100-million-plus to produce. In Hollywood, a town full of gleeful Monday morning quarterbacks who love to dance on a freshly dug grave, everyone was eager to poor-mouth Universal Pictures, which has now released three straight duds since the studio had a surprise spring smash with "Fast & Furious." 

Much of the most embarrassing questions focus on Ferrell -- and whether his movie-star credentials should be revoked -- and Universal, whose belief in the costly special-effects comedy seems so wrongheaded that it raises concerns about the studio production team's decision-making acumen. But to understand why "Land of the Lost" failed you also have to understand why "The Hangover" soared to a $45-million opening.

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