The Biggest Box Office Bombs Of 2018: Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament

Mortal Engines Wrinkle in Time Robin Hood Solo The Nutcracker
Universal/Disney/Lionsgate/Lucasfilm/Laurie Sparham

Deadline’s annual film revenue tournaments have celebrated the triumphs of each year’s most profitable films. For the second year in a row, we decided to look at those ambitious features which did not connect with the masses. Here are the movies our experts said posted the worst losses.

THE FILM

MORTAL ENGINES

UNIVERSAL

Total Loss: -$174.8M

Universal

Peter Jackson owned the rights to Philip Reeve’s early millennium Scholastic sci-fi series for roughly a decade. The three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker was fascinated by the book’s conceit of mobile cities inhaling smaller cities for their resources, a concept never before seen on screen, and had the potential to be visually exciting.  Jackson wanted to direct, but was sidelined by The Hobbit trilogy. He entrusted Mortal Engines to his protege Christian Rivers, who was called up here to make his feature directorial debut after serving in various positions for Jackson from storyboard artist on 1992’s Dead Alive to an Oscar-winning VFX artists on King Kong. Universal and MRC were completely behind the project bankrolling an estimated production cost of $110M. Our experts believe global P&A was at $120M, however, Jackson’s name above the title didn’t pull in his fans, not to mention many were unfamiliar with the IP, and didn’t take to the movie’s story which revolves a female protagonist in this post apocalyptic world of cities on wheels. Jackson acknowledged how difficult it was to launch new franchises and that proved to be the case especially when there were no big stars in Mortal Engines. The film’s complexity proved to be a challenge for Universal to market, with distribution dating the film in a pre-Christmas period of Dec. 14. While that opening date was ahead of such Christmas period titles as Aquaman, Bumblebee and Mary Poppins Returns, Mortal Engines saw its fanboy business stolen away by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($35.3M opening, $183.9M final domestic, $374.1M WW) that weekend.

THE BOX SCORE

THE FILM

A WRINKLE IN TIME

DISNEY

Total Loss: -$130.6M

Disney

Disney towered over other major studios last year with a $7.3 billion global haul, the second-best industry take ever behind the studio’s own 2016 global B.O. $7.6B record. However, the Burbank, CA studio also owned three of the biggest flops on our annual list. With the studio raking in money from its Marvel Cinematic Universe, they were able to take big bets on director’s epic visions, even if they came up quite short. Disney fully backed and supported the passionate vision of Ava DuVernay (the first African American woman to direct a $100M-plus event film) who was a fan of the 56-year-old-plus kids’ sci-fi/fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle. Despite having the marketing push power of star Oprah Winfrey behind A Wrinkle in Time, and a big splash on last year’s Oscarcast where big stars on the show crashed a screening, audiences and critics (42% Rotten Tomatoes score) didn’t take to this confusing and opulent tale of a girl’s search for her scientist father in another galaxy. Before Disney began developing the property in 2010, the book was kicked around in development as early as 1993 with Miramax, and later screenwriters John August and Beauty and the Beast‘s Linda Woolverton trying to take a crack. Disney muscled domestic results to $100.4M, but globally no one was interested in seeing A Wrinkle in Time with a total WW result of $132.6M.

THE BOX SCORE

THE FILM

ROBIN HOOD

LIONSGATE

Total Loss: -$83.7M

Lionsgate

After a 2014-15 frenzy by various studios to reboot Robin Hood, Lionsgate put their production into motion the quickest with rivals then backing away. What was originally planned to be ‘not your father’s version of Robin Hood’ with burgeoning Kingsman star Taron Egerton wound up being perceived by audiences as same old-same old, arriving in theaters too soon after Ridley’s Scott’s Russell Crowe 2010 version (which made over $321M WW though off a lofty $200M production cost). Critics killed this version of Robin Hood at 15% Rotten complaining that the movie was simply not exhilarating enough. Despite Lionsgate funding the pic with an estimated $50M in foreign sales, and attempting to launch this over the Thanksgiving period when many head to the cinema, Robin Hood died at at the box office with $30.8M stateside and $84.8M WW.

THE BOX SCORE

THE FILM

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

DISNEY

Total Loss: -$76.9M

Disney

Disney’s original plan to spinoff the Star Wars brand appeared to be surefire with it’s pre-Episode IV movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story earning over $1B at the global B.O. with a near $320M profit. However, Solo: A Star Wars Story arrived in theaters already stigmatized by several factors. Some fanboys were already turned off by the firing of Lego Movie maestros Phil Lord and Christopher Miller halfway through production as directors and replaced with Ron Howard. Immediately, when the first teaser dropped during during the 2018 Super Bowl, there was a prompt backlash by fans. Further injury to the film’s prospects stemmed from dating Solo six months after the $1.33B global grossing success of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While Disney has been successful in opening Marvel movies within months of each title, many of those in the distribution world believed that the Burbank studio got greedy and killed the golden goose, similar to how ABC aired Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? several times a week with host Regis Philbin, ultimately deep-sixing that primetime series. Many believed Solo might have fared better in the recent traditional Star Wars launch spot of pre-Christmas where Star Wars: Force Awakens ($247.9M opening), Last Jedi ($220M) and Rogue One ($155M) put up massive domestic openings. Another challenge with Solo was that Star Wars fans and critics didn’t buy Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo. Some film finance sources believe that the loss here from Solo is even greater then the figure we’re posting, as the pic’s failure forced Disney to stall its immediate spinoff movie plans (i.e. Boba Fett). Lucasfilm is currently rethinking its Star Wars feature strategy. Previously reported, Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are developing ways to expand the universe. In the immediate future, the Skywalker saga wraps up with J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX on Dec. 20 while Disney’s upcoming streaming service has a Boba Fett-inspired series in the works, The Mandalorian, under the eye of Jon Favreau.

THE BOX SCORE

THE FILM

THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS

DISNEY

Total Loss: -$65.8M

Disney

Disney saw a high concept in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 holiday short story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The story was in their princess wheelhouse, and in the hands of awards pedigree below-the-line-team and  filmmaker Lasse Hallstrom, the studio felt Nutcracker was definitely worth the spend. Critics found the film way too slow, not to mention ballet doesn’t sell on the big screen (the exception being Darren Aronsofsky’s R-rated Oscar-winning horror thriller Black Swan with close to $330M) . Not to mention, Nutcracker‘s marketing came off as too dark (7 year olds showed up at 6% per PostTrak) and looked too similar to Beauty and the Beast which moviegoers had already spent $1.26B on at the WW box office. Also Disney wasn’t expecting 20th Century Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody to be the multi-generational hit that it was , skewing young and beating Nutcracker $51M to $20.3M in its domestic openings.

THE BOX SCORE

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2019/04/box-office-bombs-2018-solo-a-star-wars-story-mortal-engines-wrinkle-in-time-robin-hood-nutcracker-1202591271/