Warner Bros. is having a rough year at the box office. While studios like Disney and Universal are cleaning up with franchises (and Disney still has Star Wars: The Force Awakens to look forward to), Warners has suffered through high-profile box office failures like Jupiter Ascending and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Now, another film the studio hoped would launch a new family franchise is on the ropes: Pan.
Directed by Joe Wright (Hanna, Anna Karenina) and boasting a cast led by Hugh Jackman, Pan was supposed to be one of Warner Bros.’ answers to fill the void left by the massive Harry Potter franchise, but critics mostly hated the film, and audiences mostly shrugged. In its North American debut over the weekend Pan pulled in a bit more than $15 million (for comparison, The Martian made more than that on Saturday alone, and it was in its second weekend), with a worldwide total of a little more than $40 million. With a reported budget of $150 million and a reported marketing budget of $125 million, that means the movie looks more-or-less dead in the water.
So, what does that mean for Warner Bros.? Well, there’s still the film’s China opening to consider, and effects-driven American films tend to do well there, but at this point, experts are predicting that even China can’t save Pan. According to analysis gathered by The Hollywood Reporter, Pan is likely to lose somewhere between $130 and $150 million for the studio when the dust settles.
“It came in so much lighter than anything we could have predicted. The movie failed to bring in an audience of any size,” an unnamed executive told THR.
We live an age when studios are trying to make just about anything into a potential franchise, from Angry Birds to a new incarnation of King Kong, and it’s fascinating to see what audiences will accept and what they will ignore. Furious 7 is the second highest-grossing movie of the year. Who would’ve thought five years ago that that franchise would not only be alive, but kicking ass? Meanwhile, someone tries a new take on a beloved children’s story and American just says “Nope.”
Don’t worry too much about Warners, though. They’re set for a hell of a 2016 thanks to the DC Comics one-two punch of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, and the revival of the Potter franchise through the spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.