Mourning Pacific Rim’s Box Office Returns

pacific rim

It’s with a heavy heart that I report that Pacific Rim ended up coming in THIRD place this weekend behind both Despicable Me 2 ($44M) and Grown Ups 2 ($42M). $38M wouldn’t have been the worst tally, but comparatively it’s not great, and when you taken into account the movie’s reported $190M budget, it’s pretty bad.

I really don’t understand the logic behind letting Pacific Rim run wild with a budget like that. I loved the movie (see my review from earlier today), but that said, it’s not a smart business decision to allow it THAT much cash simply because the director and cast and concept are good. That may sound like a silly, anti-creative thing to say, but from a marketing perspective, it’s true. The unfortunate reason that we keep getting sequels and prequels and movies based off of toys is that people recognize the franchises. Pacific Rim may draw from old monster movies and anime, but that’s not enough of a built in fanbase to make it successful. I’m honestly surprised it made $38M this weekend with that competition and the marketing campaign it had.

Pacific Rim’s evil, stupider twin, Transformers, had a budget of $150M, which is still a lot, but the film was based on an an established series. Only when the first movie was a huge hit did the budget get bumped up to $200M for the sequel. The idea that Pacific Rim, a completely original film, warranted that kind of investment seems incredibly optimistic, and borderline naive.

I think the film is pure, unbridled fun, and I hope through great word of mouth and overseas sales it will be profitable and earn a sequel, but I think it was far too risky of a move to hand an untested franchise that much cash, even with a talented cast and crew.

But hey, at least we have this awesome poster art from Graham Erwin.

  • IngridToday

    HHHHHHOOOOOOOWWWWW did Grown-Ups 2 get 42

  • IngridToday

    *42 Million dollars!!!!
    I’m just baffled, really amazed.

  • Jake

    Given film studios’ track record with Del Toro and this subject matter, it’s amazing in the first place that it was even greenlit. Del Toro has spoken about it before about how he has had a hard time funding various projects (The Hobbit, and an unknown Western film are two such cases, although the Hobbit was a creative differences thing, from my understanding). The subject itself hasn’t been very well represented either: outside Transformers, there aren’t many giant mech films being made, and creature-features are damn near rare in this day and age. It’s a miracle that the film got funding, and I do agree with you, it may not have been an excellent investment putting so much money into it. However, there was also the problem that the film wasn’t marketed very much (although that would have inflated costs). The film had good buzz at first, but the closer it was to it’s release date, the quieter that buzz got. When it finally came out, I had to tell people it was out for them to remember. Most people I had talked to had forgotten about it coming out yet, when at the time they saw the trailer, they were quite excited. So I think overall, it was a mixture of bad handling. Dammit, Del Toro needs a break.

  • E. Lee Zimmerman

    See, I’m of the school of thought that says “the only people Hollywood have to blame is itself.” Blaming the consumer — the audience — is just plain stupid. RIM never tracked all that well, and, even as late as Friday, analysts and pundits were still saying it had a pretty easy road to a $60M+ first weekend based on really fuzzy math. At the end of the day? It is what it is. Plus, like I said in Paul’s review thread, I’m not sure this property was EVER effectively distinguished from the other giant robot franchises out there.

    So unless audiences are legitimately given a reason to show up (similar what I talked about in my own column about the death of the summer blockbuster), they’ll find something else to see … and that led ’em to Adam Sandler and DESPICABLE ME 2.

  • Uncoolaidman

    Well, it’s doing better in the international market. Apparently, the charms of Adam Sandler are lost on the Europeans.

  • Well put, E. Lee. Kid-friendly flicks will usually do better, especially if parents are unfamiliar with the content or context of an original film. That’s literally the conversation we had with my 10-year-old when he asked to see Pacific Rim – “we don’t know, we’ll have to check it out first.” I’m not against him seeing pg13 movies, but with PR, we had NO idea what it entailed. It was different with things like Avengers and Iron Man 3 (sequels are usually easier to judge) – we knew what to expect. Many parents choose the “safe” option over the potentially inappropriate one.

  • Rob J

    Overall, Internationally it took in over 91 million in it’s opening weekend is only releasing in many countries over the next week. It is still on track to take 300 million over it’s release cycle FYI.

  • Joel

    I’m not going to blame an inoffensive kids movie like Despicable Me 2. I actually enjoyed the 1st one with my kid, but he’s 7 now and wanted to see Pacific Rim more than DM2. He LOVED Pacific Rim by the way.

    However, in the case of Grown Ups 2, I’ll blame both the sutdios and the movie going public. The studios for releasing that lazy, dumb, piece of trash and the audiences who gobbled it up, then complained because it sucked or complain because there’s nothing new out there.

  • I suppose this is the death knell in del Toro getting funded for At the Mountains of Madness adaptation he’s been fighting for. Pity. If American audiences can’t even get behind giant robots and monsters messing shit up without a Hasbro brand behind it, Lovecraft is absolutely out of the question.