In the early 2000s, Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger were at the top of their game in the romantic genre. McGregor had starred in Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 musical period piece “Moulin Rouge!,” while Zellweger had gotten Oscar nominations for her work as rom-com icon Bridget Jones in 2001’s “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and Roxie Hart in 2002’s “Chicago.”
The two of them together in a romantic comedy should have been box office gold, but Peyton Reed’s 2003 flick “Down With Love” turned out to be anything but.
Barbara (Renée Zellweger) is an author whose empowering feminist tome — “Down With Love” — is inspiring women to seek different relationships to men and themselves in the 1960s. She’s the voice of independent women everywhere, but notorious playboy and journalist Catcher (McGregor) is determined to expose her for what she really is: a woman looking for love with a man, just like everyone else.
“Down with Love” grossed just $35.4 million worldwide and $20 million in North America (via The Numbers). Part of the problem was timing, as moviegoers looking for laughs went to see “Bruce Almighty” instead, while everyone else was off to see “The Matrix Reloaded.” Both of these movies opened within a week or two of “Down With Love,” which then didn’t have a chance (via The Numbers).
Since its release, “Down with Love” has garnered a sizable cult following. Its unique 1960s retro aesthetic and zippy atmosphere have made it irresistible to many. Sarah Paulson, who co-stars as Barbara’s best friend Vikki, spoke to Vulture about her experience making the film, saying that she “love[s] the idea that the movie landed with the people that love the movie.”