The expectations couldn’t be any lower for the action-fantasy film “I, Frankenstein” starring Aaron Eckhart, because it is expected to be a monster flop for the studio. The lone film, scheduled to open into 2,753 locations, is tracking in at just above ten million dollars for its first weekend. From these early estimates and a reported production budget of sixty-five million before marketing, the Stuart Beattie directed film is highly unlikely to see any profit during its domestic theatrical run.
The revisionist take on Mary Shelly’s classic monster, here named Adam, pits him against supernatural gargoyle creatures in a present day setting. The original screenplay was written by Kevin Grevioux and is based off of his own graphic novel. Lionsgate had clearly hoped to replicate Grevioux’s previous successful dark fantasy franchise “Underworld,” by using the same the dark color palette and the actor Bill Nighy. The “Underworld” franchise has become one of Screen Gems biggest hits, with a combined gross of over four-hundred million worldwide.
Though known more for his dramatic work, Eckhart has had previous success in genre oriented films. Christopher Nolan’s second instalment in the Batman franchise, the massively popular “The Dark Knight” for instance. Last year’s “Olympus Has Fallen” featuring Eckhart, who performed well above expectations. The film grossed twenty million more than the similar “White House Down,” despite having half its one-hundred fifty million dollar budget. In 2011, Eckhart successfully opened the large scale alien invasion film “Battle: L.A.” to over thirty-five million dollars.
“I, Frankenstein” will go down as the first monster flop of Aaron Eckhart’s film career; in a leading role, at least. He has appeared as part of an ensemble or supporting cast in box office disappointments like “The Core”, “The Black Dahila” and most recently “The Rum Diary,” prior to this weekend’s release.
Outside of the “Underworld” franchise, several films in the same vein have opened to moderate success during these first few months of the year. Films such as last year’s “Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters”, 2010’s “Legion”, 2009’s “Daybreakers” and even 2005’s “Constantine” all opened up in the fifteen to twenty million dollar range. Even films of similar tone like “Priest” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” performed better than what “I, Frankenstein” is on track for. Those films did well, even without the added star power of an Aaron Eckhart. Whether the mostly male audience of these films may be simply fatigued by the similarity, or the clash between dead-serious tone and outlandish imagery, will remain to be seen.
This will not be the final time Frankenstein will be appearing the big screen, no matter how poorly “I, Frankenstein” does do this weekend. Scheduled to be released in February of 2015 is a more straight-forward adaptation of Mary Shelly’s 1818 novel, starring Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy. Even though “I, Frankenstein” is on track to be a monster flop for star Aaron Eckhart, he can still hold his head up in hopes for his other 2014 release, “Incarnate.” Eckhart will play an exorcist who has to tap into the mind of a nine-year old boy, who is possessed by an ancient demon.
By: Benjamin Murray