October 11, 2015
By Pamela McClintock
Joe Wright’s big-budget Pan is looking like a major loss for Warner Bros. after opening to $15.5 million from 3,515 theaters in North America, a disastrous start for a film that cost $150 million to make.
Instead, Ridley Scott’s The Martian won the weekend race with a better-than-expected $37 million from 3,854 locations after declining a mere 32 percent in its second outing for a domestic total of $108.7 million. The space epic, starring Matt Damon, also continued to dazzle overseas, earning another $56.8 million for a foreign total of $117.8 million and worldwide cume of $226.5 million.
In the U.S., Pan even got beat by Sony’s rival family offering Hotel Transylvania 2, which took in $20.3 million from 3,768 theaters in its third weekend for a North American total of $116.8 million.
In short, families didn’t show much interest in Wright’s Peter Pan origins tale. The film received scathing reviews and a B+ CinemaScore from audiences. Warners has had a tough ride at the box office this year, and Pan furthers its woes. The studio declined official comment, but one distribution source said “the movie failed to bring in an audience of any size.”
Originally, the live-action family title was set to open this past July and be a prominent summer player, but Warners knew there were problems and pushing its release back at the 11th hour, saying reshoots were needed. The film is a special-effects extravaganza, with virtually no real sets.
Pan hopes to make up ground overseas, where it opened in numerous major markets this weekend. And it rolls out in China Oct. 22. Unless it does big business internationally, Warners is facing a steep loss, much as Disney and Fox did this year with Tomorrowland and Fantastic Four, respectively. So far, returns are muted. The film earned $4.1 million Friday for an early foreign total of $11 million, including $4.3 million in Australia, where it opened two weekends ago.
Pan isn’t the isn’t the only high-profile movie that struggled.
Robert Zemeckis’ The Walkexpanded nationwide Friday into more than 2,500 locations after debuting to a muted $1.6 million last weekend in an exclusive Imax run. The film took in $3.7 million for a seventh-place finish and domestic total of $6.4 million. It’s the lowest nationwide start on record for the filmmaker.
Sony and TriStar surely hoped for more, although The Walk cost a modest $35 million to make, so the studio’s financial exposure is limited. The studio also hopes the film plays throughout awards season.
One new offering eagerly embraced by audiences in New York and Los Angeles was Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, from Universal. The Steve Jobs biopic took in $521,000 for the weekend from four theaters, putting its location average at $130,236 — the best showing of 2015 to date and the biggest since American Sniper ($158,354). It’s also among the top screen averages of all time.
Steve Jobs’ performance bodes well as it prepares to expand timed to awards season. The critically acclaimed film was written by Aaron Sorkin and stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels.
Documentary He Named Me Malala, another awards hopeful, expanded into a total of 446 theaters in its second weekend, earning an estimated $670,000 for a location average of roughly $1,502. That puts the movie’s early cume at $752,000 million for Fox Searchlight.
Elsewhere, The Intern — a bright spot for Warners — continued to hold well, grossing an estimated $8.5 million from 3,224 theaters in its fourth weekend for a domestic total of $49.2 million. The Anne Hathaway-Robert DeNiro comedy placed No. 4, followed by Denis Villeneuve’s awards contender Sicario with a pleasing $7.2 million from 2,620 locations. From Lionsgate, Sicario has now earned north of $26 million domestically.