‘Molly’s Game’ Crushed ‘Rounders’ at the Box Office

March 20th, 2018 by Jon Sofen

In what may come as a surprise to some poker players, “Molly’s Game” crushed “Rounders,” arguably the most popular poker movie ever, at the box office.

Molly’s Game Rounders poker

“Molly’s Game” crushed “Rounders” at the box office. (Image: substreammagazine.com)

More than $53 million have been spent on ticket sales worldwide to watch “Molly’s Game,” a movie starring Jessica Chastain that was released in theaters on Christmas Day and will be available on Blu-Ray March 27.

That blows away the $23 million box office sales the 1998 movie “Rounders” received.

“Rounders” had a star-studded cast led by Matt Damon and Ed Norton, but it wasn’t an Academy Award-nominated flick nor was it overly popular at the time of its release.

Contrast that to “Molly’s Game,” which received rave reviews from critics, even those who aren’t poker grinders. Director Aaron Sorkin was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Writing Adapted Screenplay category, the award he won in 2011 for “The Social Network,” but lost to James Ivory who wrote “Call Me by Your Name.”

Numbers Lie Sometimes

“Molly’s Game” had more success at the box office than “Rounders” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a better poker movie.

The game of poker was far less popular when “Rounders” was released than it is today. Poker was an afterthought at most casinos in the 1990s, if a poker room even existed. Nowadays, most casinos have a card room.

“Rounders” was released prior to the launch of online poker and five years before Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event.

The World Poker Tour wasn’t a thing, Phil Ivey had just started playing the game, and exposing hole cards on television wasn’t even an idea.

Is it Really a Poker Movie?

The “Rounders” plot revolved around the grinder lifestyle. Mike McDermott (Damon) and his friend Lester “Worm” Murphy (Norton) hustled to make a living at the poker tables.

In “Molly’s Game,” a movie based on a true story, there was limited poker action and the main plot centered around Molly Bloom’s (Chastain) pending criminal charges for hosting an illegal poker game.

Bloom, a former world-class skier who moved from Colorado to Los Angeles after college, ran a regular high-stakes poker game in Hollywood and Manhattan for celebrities and influential people. After she began taking a rake, making the game illegal, the feds shut down the game and charged her with a crime.

Most critics agreed Sorkin, making his directorial debut, told a great story. But the movie was more about Bloom’s daddy issues and criminal charges than the game of poker.

“Rounders,” on the other hand, had some subplots such as McDermott’s lousy relationship with his girlfriend. But the main focus of the flick was the ups and downs of the poker grinder lifestyle.

10 Responses to “‘Molly’s Game’ Crushed ‘Rounders’ at the Box Office”

  1. Infinity Objective says:

    Maybe so, but never the cult classic or more liked movie as Rounders, never will be, ever. MG not bad, ok flick.

    • Infinity Objective says:

      Rounders (1998) profit 10.9 mil, Molly’s Game (2017) profit 23.4 million, Rounders profit adjusted to inflation of 2018 $16.6 million. Difference $6.8 million – a comparative crushing in movie earnings standard, no. If Rounders didn’t kick ass, MG might of not of even been an interest piece.

      Rounders 2, if ever made will go high 8, maybe 9 figures, the box set would likely send Rounders over MG if those profits of 1/2 divided and added in to 1’s net.

  2. Ivansito26 says:

    interesting who was going to think that molly game was going to dethrone rounder, hehehe good every movie has its moment and this is the moment now of mollys game

  3. sergik1992 says:

    This year nominees for Oscar were quit middling, so as for me `Molly`s Game` had chances to get some rewards.

  4. Jere Rivard says:

    WTF It’s a Chick flick who cares…………….

  5. moots says:

    You can’t really compare the box office for a 1998 movie to a 2017 one. Doesn’t make sense. Adjusted for inflation, Rounders made 44 million compared to Molly’s Game 28 million.

    Also comparing Molly’s worldwide numbers to Rounders US/Canada numbers is unfair. So no “crushing” actually happened.

  6. mtl mile end says:

    I have not seen Molly’s Game, but comparing a movie released in 1998 (five years before the Boom when a movie cost about $7 to see) with a new film (15 years after the Boom that costs $15 (?)(I have no idea about current movie pricing) to see) is a little ridiculous.

    Not to mention the fact that Rounders was about a good guy that played facing huge obstacles in order to become “all that he could be” like a typical American movie success story. Everything is more or less black and white, Matt Damon is the good guy and Malkovich and the rest are baddies. It seems Molly’s Game is more of a greed/ambition comparison with lots of shades of grey in there.

    Besides who wouldn’t rather watch Jessica Chastain rather than Matt Damon.

  7. Malnitruth says:

    Best Movie Ever!!!

  8. Hackerosito says:

    Of course these numbers are understandable for many reasons, the times are not the same. And I also confess that I have not seen the Molly movie yet, but I do not think I beat Rounders, it’s my personal opinion.

  9. SPANKYSN says:

    Box office is never a good way to rate movies. When I first started going to the movies, it was 25 cents for admission (then upped to 35 for the first James Bond movie)…now I pay $13 for a senior’s ticket, so the box office is skewed.

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