All studios have good years and bad years. Years where it seems every film released, using sports analogy terms, is either a solid double, triple or an all bases filled home run hit out of the park. And then there are some years where every turn at bat, they strike out.
Universal has been having a great 2015. The year did start off dreadfully with one of biggest flops in "Blackhat" and more recently with "Everest" which is turning out to be not the big box office smash that was once hoped (though the.overseas b.o. which is three times what the film has done here in the States, will save it from being a financial disaster). But despite those films, the studio has done extremely well this year with solid hits such as "Trainwreck," "The Visit," "Minions," "Furious 7," "Perfect Pitch 2," and "Straight Outta Compton". And, needless to say, there’s also the year’s biggest box office hit worldwide – "Jurassic World".
On the flip side of the coin, there are Sony and Warner Bros, which have both been having a miserable year to say the least.
Warners started off with a huge flop in their $175 million "Jupiter Ascending" (which pretty much ended the Wachowski’s film career and which they even admitted in interviews). With the exceptions of "Mad Max Fury Road" and "Magic Mike XXL," nothing else has gone well for the studio, with mostly flops, or what can kindly be called "less than expected b.o. disappointments," such as "Black Mass," or very modest b.o. hits such as "The Intern."
Now to add insult to injury comes Warners’ "Pan," a project probably doomed from the moment it was greenlit, which opened with only $15 million. Given its large budget, that’s a paltry amount for the film, and with the huge dropoff that will surely come over the next couple of weekends, the film won’t even break even for the studio.
What possessed anyone to think that an overblown, insufferable, chaotic $150 million film about the origins of Peter Pan in which pirates sing songs by The Ramones and Nirvana, was going to be a hit is beyond anyone’s guess?
Also the fact that the film’s original release date was pushed back several months until this weekend was not a sign of confidence from the studio. Then add to that the total lack of advance audience buzz for the film, and the horrible reviews it has been getting (like "zero stars" from the N.Y. Post), and it’s no surprise that it completely tanked this weekend. Not even what it makes overseas is going to save it. With the exception of "The 33" and "Creed" coming out this fall, that could produce some solid if not spectacular numbers, nothing else looks likely to be a hit for the studio. And they’re going to have to wait until next year to see better fortunes.
Sony also has been struggling this year. First of all, the studio had the weakest line-up on any this yea,r and when your only box office successes so far are "The War Room" and "The Perfect Guy" something is very wrong. However "The Walk" was supposed to change all that.
It has gotten nothing but rave reviews for the most part, and at the advance screening I attended, the audience was enraptured by it, and all I heard, while leaving the theater, was how good they thought the film was. The problem is, no one is going to see it. After a disappointing b.o. opening last weekend in an exclusive engagement in IMAX theaters, the film opened wide on 2000 screens this weekend, but made a lousy $3.6 million.
Obviously there’s something off about the marketing. The ads concentrated mainly on the lead character’s tightrope walk across the World Trade Center towers, though that’s only in the last 40 minutes of the film. As a result, the ads misrepresented the film, ignoring the first 80 minutes of it, which is full of backstory and the complicated set up for the stunt, which plays like an extended heist thriller. Also Joseph Gordon-Levitt, though a solid actor, is no box office draw. Or just simply, maybe people weren’t interested in seeing the movie. That does happen from time to time, so I hear.
Also, the film was going up against "The Martian"; and if there’s one big 3D movie that people were going to see, it was the sci-fi film with a big box office star, and a very impressive supporting cast, based on a best selling book. Not one about an elfin French tightrope walker.
In the meantime, Universal continues its winning streak with Danny Boyle’s "Steve Jobs" starring Michael Fassbender which opened this weekend on only 4 screens, before it goes wide on Oct. 23. It earned a total of $521,000 making it the biggest limited opening for any film this year.
Meanwhile "Hotel Transylvania 2" is turning out to be the only other bright spot for Sony, as it’s still doing solid business, coming in again at no. 2 for the second weekend in a row, while Ridley Scott’s "The Martian" took a modest 31% drop to stay no.1 with $37 million.
1) The Martian Fox $37,000,000 Total: $108,710,329
2) Hotel Transylvania 2 Sony $20,300,000 Total: $116,821,641
3) Pan WB $15,530,000
4) The Intern WB $8,660,000 Total: $49,574,047
5) Sicario LGF $7,350,000 Total: $26,706,016
6) Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Fox $5,250,000 Total: $70,643,390
7) The Walk TriS $3,650,000 Total: $6,361,499
8) Black Mass WB $3,130,000 Total: $57,568,791
9) Everest Uni. $3,030,000 Total: $38,210,215
10) The Visit Uni. $2,420,000 -Total: $61,054,525
11) War Room TriS $1,830,000 Total: $63,550,130
12) The Perfect Guy SGem $1,350,000 Total: $54,671,711