How truly outrageous were “Jem and the Holograms'” box office numbers?
The live-action adaptation of the iconic '80s cartoon series flopped in its opening weekend, grossing a dismal $1.37 million on 2,413 screens for a $570 per-screen average. Its second weekend things got progressively worse, with the film bringing in $387,925 on 2,417 screens — so bad that Universal stopped reporting on the film's box office performance after just two weeks. According to Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock, that's an unprecedented move for a major studio.
“Theater chains are contractually obligated to hold a film for two weeks after booking it. However, in all my days as an analyst, I've never seen a studio actually stop reporting after two weeks,” Bock told Business Insider. “This is unprecedented, and shows just how badly this film flopped. Not only is it the lowest-grossing debut for a studio film this year, but it's the worst all-time – by a considerable margin – for any film released in 2,000-plus theaters.”
Though data at Box Office Mojo shows that “Jem” actually had the fourth worst opening for a film playing in over 2,000 theaters — after “Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure,” “Delgo” and the “Saw” 10th anniversary re-release — it's certainly the most high-profile flop among that group. (Interesting to note that two other 2015 films are also in the Top 10: the Zac Efron DJ drama “We Are Your Friends” and “Rock the Kasbah” starring Bill Murray)
Things got off on the wrong foot for “Jem” nearly from the get-go. It attracted considerable negative buzz following the debut of the film's first trailer, with fans and bloggers decrying its unfaithfulness to the original series (see above for star Stefanie Scott's response to the controversy back in May).
“In an era when boy-friendly properties are being treated as big budget event movies, it”s a little bothersome, if not quite 'problematic' to see the first modern girl-centric nostalgia adaptation being treated as a comparatively cheap offering that is almost hilariously unfaithful to the original text,” wrote Forbes' Scott Mendelson at the time.
Making matters worse, critical reviews were almost universally poor; the film finished with a 20% “Rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and drew such withering descriptors as “weak-sauce,” “wan,” “senseless” and “lackluster.” Still, the greatest sin of the Jon M. Chu-directed adaptation seems to have been its complete alienation of hardcore fans who could have rallied behind the film and saved it from its quick and brutal box-office demise.