Weekend Box Office: Another Great Movie Disappoints

Blade Runner 2049 opened this weekend, and it should have been huge. It’s a fantastic movie (89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes); it’s a sequel to one of the most iconic sci-fi films of all time; it stars one of the biggest stars of this generation in Ryan Gosling and one of the biggest stars of all time in Harrison Ford; it’s directed by a legitimately terrific director in Denis Villeneuve; and there has been no shortage of marketing and promotion for the film. All the ingredients existed for Blade Runner 2049 to be a gigantic blockbuster.

It opened with around $31.5 million.

Given the $155 million production budget, that’s bad. It opened with less than Alien: Covenant ($36 million), which was a seriously inferior film. Blade Runner 2049 is not likely to break $100 million in North America over its entire domestic run, and what’s worse is that, so far, it’s not crushing it internationally, either.

This is a huge disappointment. What happened? It’s a sequel to a 35-year-old film, that’s what happened. The key audience for Blade Runner 2049 is over the age of 40, and they represented the large share of the audience. Unfortunately, they could not hook younger viewers, who probably felt they wouldn’t “get” Blade Runner 2049 without watching the original first (and it does help). The two movies combined would have been a 5 hour commitment (Blade Runner 2049 comes in at nearly three hours). Blade Runner is not like the Star Wars franchise, which is reintroduced to to younger viewers every generation. The original Blade Runner is not exactly family friendly; it is fantastic but slow; and simply doesn’t have the built-in audience (it made only $27 million at the box office in 1982).


The Mountain Between Us finished at number two this weekend with an OK $10.1 million, despite the presence of Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. I wasn’t a fan; it was kind of like mashing The Bridges of Madison County together with Alive (minus the cannibalism), although audiences largely disagreed (it received an A- on Cinemascore with its largest demographic being women over the age of 50). Reviews were mixed (51 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). With a $35 million price tag, I assume that Fox will eventually earn its money back with worldwide box office plus home video.

IT, which pulled ahead in a three-way tie last weekend after final box office results were revealed, finished at number three this weekend with $9.2 million, pushing its overall domestic gross to a whopping $304 million, making it officially the highest grossing horror film of all time.

Meanwhile, in fourth place this week was My Little Pony, a movie strictly targeted toward very young girls and their Dads who had to suffer through this very sweet, well-intentioned but painfully boring movie. I don’t think that smart phones should ever be allowed in films, but I’d make one exception for movies where parents have to take their children to films that are clearly not targeted toward the adults (My advice to other parents: Stay up late the night before and maybe you can nap through it). The $8.8 million gross actually a decent result for the film (there’s no budget numbers available, but trust me: It didn’t cost that much).