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Box Office: Even Prayers Couldn’t Help ‘Gods of Egypt’

Box Office: Even Prayers Couldn't Help 'Gods of Egypt'

This piece from Justin Chang’s Variety review of “Gods of Egypt” pretty much sums it up: “This is by any measure a dreadful movie, a chintzy, CG-encrusted eyesore that oozes stupidity and self-indulgence from its every pore.”

And it appears audiences around the country mostly agreed, because the $140 million (not including marketing) movie opened this weekend with just $14 million, 1/10th of its budget. Certainly not off to a very good start. And unless word of mouth is extraordinarily strong to carry the film during the upcoming weeks (and I doubt it will be, given its poor critics and audience Rotten Tomato ratings), there’s no way that “Gods of Egypt” earns anywhere close to what it cost to produce, as it very likely goes on to become one of this year’s biggest box office flops. 

Its much publicized and criticized white-washing aside, one has to wonder how studio executives aren’t able to foresee screw-ups like this. On paper, in terms of script and attached talent, it should’ve read like a very bad idea to begin with. But clearly Lionsgate execs saw something in it that they thought would connect with audiences and sell well – enough to drop $140 million to get it made. The studio is on the hunt for a new franchise to replace its uber-successful “Hunger Games” series, now that Katniss Everdeen and company are in the movie history books; and word on the street is that “Gods of Egypt” was being considered as a potential franchise. I suspect that’s no longer the case after this weekend’s rather poor showing.

Lionsgate’s stock price plummeted earlier this month ( 27%) after the movie and television studio reported worse-than-expected third-quarter earnings, which it said were partly due to disappointing profits from the final “Hunger Games” movie. The company has been struggling lately to come up with box office hits: “At its core, the motion picture [biz] was much weaker than expected,” analyst Benjamin Mogil said after the studio reported its earnings this month. However, their TV business is steady, thanks to shows they produce like “Orange is the New Black” for Netflix. 

I suspect more studios will borrow a page out of Disney’s playbook, and aim for tried-and-true properties (“Star Wars,” superhero movies, Pixar animated family flicks), and take even fewer risks. Or, like MGM, digging into library archives and simply recycling old material.

“Gods of Egypt” is probably one film on his growing resume that Chadwick Boseman hopes will be quickly forgotten, although I’m sure he was paid handsomely for his contributions.

Meanwhile, “Deadpool” remains in the top spot for the 3rd week in a row, with a total box office take to date of over $285 million, and a worldwide gross so far of $609 million. Keep in mind that its budget was just $58 million, not including marketing; although even if you did include marketing, its box office cume would still be mighty impressive compared to its total costs.

Other new entries of note this weekend include the heist thriller “Triple 9” which Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anthony Mackie co-star in, which also didn’t open as strong as I expected it would ($6.1 million), given its strong ensemble cast (including Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul and others). Although reviews were mixed, with a 55% Rotten Tomatoes score. Essentially, critics were split on it. Too bad. I had high hopes for it, after watching its various action-packed trailers before it opened.

Finally, in its second weekend, Focus Features’ Jesse Owens film, “Race,” as expected, slipped about 42% from last week’s lackluster opening, earning a total of just $13.8 million to date. As I said in last week’s box office report, it’ll likely settle in the $20 to $30 million before it hits the home video market (although it may not even get there at this rate). I’d like to believe that there’s a much better, much more thrilling Jesse Owens film (or 2 or 3) still to be made (without the white man complement).

This weekend’s top 10 follow below, including releasing studio, cumulative gross and budget (where available):

1 Deadpool Fox     $31,500,000       $285,639,009 $58
2 Gods of Egypt LG/S $14,000,000 $14,000,000      $140
3 Kung Fu Panda 3   Fox $9,000,000 $128,455,359
4 Risen Sony $7,000,000 $22,703,747 $20
5 Eddie the Eagle Fox $6,300,000 $6,300,000 $23
6 Triple 9 ORF $6,103,096 $6,103,096
7 How to Be Single WB $5,155,000 $39,625,866 $38
8 The Witch A24 $5,009,662 $16,618,191
9 Race (2016) Focus $4,273,000 $13,862,622
10 The Revenant Fox $3,800,000 $170,506,469 $135

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