Despite fans and critics loving the hype surrounding Guillermo Del Toro’s epic storyline and spectacular CG and FX world of giant monsters versus giant man-made robots who were, “Cancelling the apocalypse” the box office was very minor compared with the other two films on offer over the weekend.
Amazingly, both of the films that beat Pacific Rim were sequels and both were comedies.
It seems that the summer of 2013 will not be filled with mega-blockbusters that feature lots of action, suspence and bulging muscle. The summer instead seems to be ruled by comedy and animation.
If you look at how the critics have almost unanimously responded positively to Pacific Rim and that fans are, for a change, in sync with the critics, it is disappointing to read that the box office takings for the $190 million epic, was a low $38.3 million over the weekend.
While Despicable Me 2, came in at first place in the box office stakes with a figure of $44.2 million and the animated film even beat out Adam Sandler in his sequel Grown Ups 2 with its $40 million box office takings for the weekend.
The picture for big budget action films for 2013 is looking pretty grim and not just Pacific Rim has suffered from lacklustre box office figures.
The Lone Ranger, White House Down, and World War Z have all done less business at the cinema than predicted. World War Z has been steadily performing at least and has at the last count pulled in $170 million worldwide which still means that the film hasn’t paid for itself yet. Hopefully Brad Pitt asked for a percentage of the net profit versus gross, as if he really needed the money.
It is confusing. Pacific Rim was a greatly anticipated film. The studios and Del Toro worked hard to get the hype to fever pitch before it opened. When the trailer became available online to watch, it got well over a combined viewing figure of six million.
So what happened to the audience? With its IMAX 3D experience, Pacific Rim should have ruled the box office figures after its opening weekend. Sandler’s film, which finished a close second to Despicable Me 2 had been savaged by the critics and yet still beat out Del Toro’s offering.
The other films that “under performed” were the Mellisa McCarthy/Sandra Bullock female cop “buddy” comedy The Heat and the empty The Lone Ranger. The Heat is another film that got good reviews overall but the main difference is that for a film with a production budget of (an estimated) $40 million it has taken in over $128 million. That ratio is the best out of all the films mentioned in this article.
With the public and critic’s both crying out for original films with a plot that isn’t some re-hash or re-imaging of old or foreign films, it is even more confusing to see that Universal’s sequel to Despicable Me and Sandler’s tired re-visit to a film that no-one, apparently, thought was a good idea have beaten out the one original film on the market.
It could be argued that the film is too reminiscent of the Transformers films, but any similarities come from the sheer size of the Jaegers and Kaijus. There is no “morphing” or cheesy humourful moments and the human protagonists aren’t as pretty or likeable.
It just goes to show that the studios are using an outdated mode of guessing what their target demographic want. Or their target isn’t what it used to be and Hollywood haven’t realised it yet. Perhaps the cinema-going public don’t want a Pacific Rim type film. A film that is both epic and spectacular but ultimately not as popular as a film with a somewhat minor plot that will please both adults and kids. The box office takings from the last weekend seem to indicate that perhaps, this year, less is more.
By Michael Smith