Warner Bros. Reacts to ‘The Goldfinch’ Box Office Bomb and Blames the Marketplace

“I think the audience wasn’t interested in seeing this literary work on-screen,” Warner Bros. distribution president Jeff Goldstein tells Variety.
"The Goldfinch"
"The Goldfinch"
Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein is facing some tough questions in the aftermath of “The Goldfinch” becoming one of the biggest box office bombs of 2019. The John Crowley-directed adaptation of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel opened at the U.S. box office to a disastrous $2.6 million, far below the projections that said the film would open in the $12 million range. Warner Bros. partnered with Amazon Studios to produce “The Goldfinch” for $40 million. The drama opened in 2,542 locations, making its $2.6 million launch one of the biggest bombs for a nationwide release. Goldstein reacted to the film’s box office performance by telling Variety the marketplace just wasn’t right for it.

“I think the audience wasn’t interested in seeing this literary work on-screen,” Goldstein said. “There were many things that didn’t work, but the biggest was probably the marketplace. The gap between the have and the have-nots is growing even bigger.”

“The Goldfinch” is the latest box office bomb for Warner Bros. in 2019 after “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” “Shaft,” “The Kitchen,” and “Blinded by the Light.” At least the studio has “It Chapter Two,” the horror sequel that topped the box office for a second weekend in a row and has grossed $323 million and counting worldwide. “The Goldfinch” world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to some of the year’s worst reviews. IndieWire senior film critic David Ehrlich called the film “a lifeless movie that never gets off the ground” in a D+ review.

While Warner Bros. had nothing to celebrate when it came to “The Goldfinch” performance, STX Entertainment had every reason to rejoice because of “Hustlers.” The Jennifer Lopez-led crime drama grossed $33 million to become the studio’s biggest debut yet. The movie also debuted at TIFF but received critical acclaim and Oscar buzz for Lopez’s supporting performance.

“It was the reviews, the level of audience response and a great script from a filmmaker who had a spectacular vision,” STX motion picture group chairman Adam Fogelson told Variety. “The filmmaking team was almost entirely made up of strong women who had a really smart artistic and entertaining eye for how to tell this story. Never for a moment do you feel it’s inauthentic to the world of strip clubs and the women who work there. It’s so clearly not told through a male gaze.”

Both “Hustlers” and “The Goldfinch” are playing in theaters nationwide. Don’t expect “The Goldfinch” to hold onto its theater count for long given its low-performing opening weekend.

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