George Clooney’s new film is tanking. How sad!

It’s his smile. His unctuous, self-satified permagrin just makes me want to lamp him

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The Independent Online

Empires come and empires go. The Hittites, the Incas, the Ottomans, the British, Liverpool FC (remember them?). They all vacated the top table when their time was up. Actually, not Britain, who still refuse to give up their elite seat, but you get my drift. Now the one-man empire that is George Clooney is looking down both barrels if box-office returns are anything to go by (and they usually are).

His latest blockbuster, Tomorrowland, a film based on a Disney theme park attraction, cost around $180m to make, with another $150m blown on marketing. In its all-important first few weeks it’s taken just under $170m, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which estimates that Disney could lose up to $140m on the deal. It’s doubtless money they can afford to write off, but it does beg the question: whither Clooney?

The fact is, I can’t stand George Clooney. Not because every straight woman in the world appears to fancy him – that I can handle. It’s that smile, that unctuous, self-satisfied permagrin that makes me want to lamp him, or at least give him a wedgie or a chinese burn. But what I really hate are those teeth-grinding coffee-capsule ads, the grin in overdrive and my hackles standing to attention. A solemn promise: I will never buy that product, or even knowingly drink it, simply because of Smugman’s endorsement. That’s how petty I am.

So are we bored with Clooney? Like many Hollywood stars across the decades, he’s not the greatest technician, though he is undeniably watchable. There have been many great one-note actors – in fact Cary Grant, my favourite one-note actor of all-time, is my favourite actor of all time, full stop. And Clooney does have range – albeit with what the great film writer David Thomson refers to as “a bland self-satisfaction”. He undoubtedly has the acting chops to make the public fall in love with him all over again. But if his target audience is more female than male – and I strongly suspect it is – might this dip in fortunes have another cause? Mrs Clooney, perhaps? Might Amal Alamuddin have queered his pitch?

When John Lennon put Cynthia Powell in the family way just as the Beatles were on the cusp of stardom, they married clandestinely, on the insistence of Brian Epstein. The news couldn’t stay secret for long, of course, and poor Cyn became Public Enemy No 1 for every British female under the age of 25. When they moved to London, she was assailed outside their apartment block trying to get in with Julian in the pram, and even as late as 1967 she was kicked by one sobbing female, who screamed, “Leave John alone!”

In similar fashion, might distaff Clooney fans around the world have decided, now he’s run off with some fancy-dan hotshot lawyer, that they can no longer satisfactorily fantasise about snaring him themselves? That might be unbelievably shallow, but surely no more so than saddos like me hating him for his grin and a brand of coffee.

Clooney probably has enough starry capital in the bank to survive this failure, and he could certainly continue to make as many smaller films as he likes for as long as he likes. But when it comes to the big-budget creations on which the careers of actors in Clooney’s league depend, he may find studios just a little less willing to bet the house on him.