When Sony Pictures decided to greenlight two projects with similar titles, many in the industry thought they were shooting themselves in the foot. “MenoPaws” and “Men o’ Paws” had completely different plots, actors and scenarios but many felt that the films’ titles would confuse moviegoers in an already saturated award season theater landscape.
Sony, undeterred by critics, released the two films on the same weekend to lucrative effect.
“Men o’ Paws” starring Kevin James and Ray Romano as dog groomers whose hands turn into paws and the frustrations that their female companions experience opened as the number 1 film in the nation with a weekend haul of 36.5 million dollars. For James it was a return to form after the mildly disappointing “Paul Blart Mall Cop 2”.
As for Romano, it was a massive leap into a film industry he has never really crossed into after his success in stand up and “Everybody Loves Raymond”.
Filmed entirely in Seattle and funded by the ASPCA to increase awareness about the struggles of the dog grooming industry in the Pacific Northwest, Men o Paws was given a budget of 40 million dollars with much of that money going into special effects. At one point, producers were rumored to have asked James and Romano to actually replace their hands with paws, a request that both actors are reported to have rejected.
Just behind “Men O’ Paws” with 33.2 million dollars was “MenoPAWS” a tour de force about growing old and loving it. Starring Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren as the voices of Agnes and Tabitha, two dogs who are no longer able to make puppies but are more than ready to sniff butts and take names, the film skewed heavily female (65% to 35% male) and older (45% over the age of 40). The film was bolstered by strong word of mouth with moviegoers giving the film an A- Cinemascore.
The film, like the dogs that star in it, has legs.
Sony Pictures is rumored to have already greenlit “Pussy Eater” a film about a food critic that becomes a cat.