Last weekend’s box office saw new releases “Night School”($27 million) and “Smallfoot” ($23 million) lead the way. However, their box office openings were underwhelming. Using Box Office Mojo as a guide, I ask this question about 14 other recent films: Why didn’t these movies make more money?
“The A-Team” (2010)
You could argue that this adaptation of the iconic TV series was ahead of its time. It was early on in Liam Neeson’s action movie run – and just a year after Bradley Cooper led the way in “The Hangover”. It earned $77 million eight years ago, and I think it would make double if released today.
“All the Money in the World” (2017)
The huge controversy. The incredible re-casting and re-filming down to the wire. Why didn’t Ridley Scott’s J. Paul Getty drama starring Christopher Plummer (who replaced Kevin Spacey in the key role) make more than $25 million? Maybe audiences simply assumed Plummer was going to be great without actually needing to see the film. But that’s a shame, because Plummer’s performance (which earned him a well-deserved Oscar nomination) is excellent – even if you take away the fact that his scenes were shot just a few weeks before release.
“Arthur Christmas” (2011)
Sony Pictures Animation’s deep and dazzling holiday adventure was released on the same day as fellow family fare “The Muppets” and “Hugo” – and just five days after “Happy Feet Two”. But out of the four, this is the one that deserved to earn the most money, not the least ($46 million).
It’s the Will Smith comeback role we were waiting for. He scored a Golden Globe nomination two weeks before its Christmas Day release. So what happened? This topic just wasn’t something that audiences, especially diehard NFL fans, wanted to even attempt to embrace. The result: $34.5M.
“Eighth Grade” (2018)
A24’s Summer darling is well worth your time and will probably do well on at-home viewing this Fall. But an R-rating from the MPAA (which is somewhat, though not entirely, justified) hurt the true audience that needs to see this movie: teens. To date, just $13.5 million.
“The Founder” (2016)
Director John Lee Hancock and star Michael Keaton’s dynamite Ray Kroc/McDonald’s biopic was a casualty of The Weinstein Company’s rigid and ridiculous release date schedule swapping and chopping. I received a screener and watched the film in November. It was out in Los Angeles for a week in December to qualify for awards consideration before going wide in January during Oscar nominations week. But the strategy didn’t pay off. This movie needed to open big in December to attract more audience and voting appeal. $12.8 million is way too low.
“Get On Up” (2014)
Chadwick Boseman’s James Brown biopic went directly up against “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but that’s not the only factor for why this flopped ($30M total). First, it’s not a summer movie. Second, it got very mixed reviews (many citing its overblown 2-and-a-half hour length). Plus, Boseman himself didn’t sing much on the soundtrack.
“Grudge Match” (2013)
Putting Rocky and Raging Bull in the same ring together seemed like an unbeatable one-two punch. I really enjoyed this boxing comedy, but audiences had too many other options that Christmas, including “American Hustle”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “Saving Mr. Banks”.
“The Guilt Trip” (2012)
Same goes for Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand’s sweet and charming road trip comedy. This rather tame movie got swallowed-up on the attention meter by the likes of “Les Miserables”, “Django Unchained”, “Parental Guidance” and “This is 40”.
“The House” (2017)
Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler’s gambling comedy may not be the funniest film of their careers, but it shouldn’t have gotten destroyed by critics and ignored by audiences ($25M).
“Life Itself” (2014)
It’s an absolute tragedy that this doc on the life of film critic Roger Ebert earned less than $1 million. The fan love and support was there, and always will be. The marketing and summer release from Magnolia just wasn’t smart.
“Mr. Church” (2016)
Eddie Murphy gave a triumphant performance in another “less than a million” effort. Cinelou Films is a very small studio, and the theatrical release wasn’t wide enough. What a shame.
“Patriots Day” (2016)
It was simply a case of being too soon. Just three years after the Boston Marathon Bombing comes this dramatization of the events. And Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg had just released “Deepwater Horizon” a few months earlier.
“Ricki and the Flash” (2015)
Meryl Streep’s rock star dramedy is a strong, effective film that should’ve made more than $26 million. A crowded August and mixed reviews hurt its chances at a bigger box office take. And Sony completely dropped the ball on an awards campaign for Streep (who really deserved one).