Saturday, September 12, 2015

Two Biggest Movies That Bombed This Summer

Fantastic Dud
With summer officially over, it’s time to play catch-up with the summer movie season and find out what are the two biggest bombs.

It is easy to identify the biggest blockbusters of the summer movie season ("Jurassic World" and "Pitch Perfect 2", it is sometimes not fair to look at the other side of the coin. However, Scott Mendelson, Forbes Contributor provides a clear picture on what are the outright financial disasters.

Now these are not the two lowest grossing films of the summer, but rather the most high-profile and big-scale misses of the season.

Tomorrowland (Walt Disney)

Budget: US$ 190 million

Gross: US$ 92 million domestic/US$ 206 million worldwide

This was supposed to be the great “original” hope of the 2015 summer movie season, with Walt Disney releasing a big-budget original fantasy from Brad Bird. Mr. Bird was coming off of the US$ 694 million-grossing "Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol" and used his capital not to make a Star Wars sequel or Jurassic World, but rather an original idea from the back of his, and writer Damon Lindelof’s mind.

But the film was hurt by a muted marketing campaign that promised glorious revelations and towering spectacle just behind the curtain, as well as kid-friendly thrills that would remind audiences of the all-ages fantasy adventures that were once a thing in a pre PG-13 tent pole era.

But the marketing didn’t make the sell, and the early reviews indicating that the film wasn’t that good, wasn’t that kid friendly, and had no revelations to offer sunk the enterprise. The Britt Robertson/George Clooney/Raffey Cassidy/Hugh Laurie adventure earned just US$ 42 million over opening weekend and sank like a stone, barely crossing US$ 200m worldwide when all was said and done.

Disney can take it, Bird signed on for "Incredibles 2" just before the film opened (which was a sign of doom to come), and the notion of a big-budget original blockbuster from a would-be visionary hitting it big took another hit.

Fantastic Four (20th Century Fox)

Budget: US$ 120 million

Gross: US$ 54 million domestic/$150 million worldwide

Where to begin with this one? 20th Century Fox hired Josh Trank straight off the leggy and acclaimed "Chronicle" to helm their superhero franchise reboot and pretty much everything went to hell. Studio and director squabbled about budget, about casting, and about tone.

Said onset difficulties allegedly grew into unprofessional behavior on-and-off set, with rumors about difficulties with the cast and problems with a rental house. The film shrouded in secrecy and bad buzz right up until the first horror-centric teaser in January, which alleviated fears somewhat until Trank shockingly departed his planned "Star Wars" spin-off movie at the start of May.

Every other trailer was more and more generic, with the same handful of money shots shown over and over again. And once the film screened for critics, the tragic mediocrity was revealed as both an artistic failure and a clear-cut case of behind-the-scenes/post-production tinkering.

The assured and somewhat outside-the-box first half blended awkwardly into a generic superhero origin story, yet one with most of the would-be action beats left on the cutting room floor. Coupled with Josh Trank’s midnight tweet proclaiming his original version to be superior, and well, someone is going to write a great book about this someday.

Absent the promise of quality or excitement, the claustrophobic and star-less film tanked hard, opening with US$ 25.5 million and in a position to end up just above the US$ 55 million opening weekend of Tim Story’s 2005 "Fantastic Four."

It’s not catching fire overseas either, with a US$ 150 million total thus far. Blame behind-the-scenes gossip, or blame the fact "Fantastic Four" wasn’t a property that excited moviegoers absent any other factors, but this was a surprise disaster for the ages (conventional wisdom presumed a US$ 40 million debut/US$90 million domestic final/US$200 million worldwide cummulative at worse) even if it won’t lose that much money in the end. And no, it’s not slated to play in China as of yet so there likely won’t be any "Terminator Genisys"-style rescue.

One major lesson here: "Don't go astray from the source material."

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