Friday Box Office Analysis

By David Mumpower

April 19, 2014

The future is not now.

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A $100 million movie was released worldwide yesterday, yet last weekend’s top two films are still poised to headline the box office charts again this week. How did that happen? Suffice to say that Johnny Depp no longer has the Midas touch.

Transcendence is the would-be blockbuster with the hefty price tag that disappointed yesterday. The Warner Bros. release has been battling negative buzz for months now. Still, most industry observers believed the sci-fi release would enjoy a few days of glory in North America before everyone starts pretending as if its global revenue is good enough to justify its financial outlay. Alas, even those conservative expectations were not matched.

Transcendence was limited to a paltry $4.8 million on Friday. How lousy is this performance? Have you ever heard of Heaven Is For Real? Only the most diehard of box office fans and/or people of faith and/or Greg Kinnear fans (and we know from Rake’s ratings that there are virtually none of those) can honestly state that they have. Yesterday, Greg Kinnear’s movie grossed $7.8 million, a full $3 million better than the film starring his much more highly paid celebrity counterpart, Mr. Depp.

How pathetic is Transcendence’s debut? Here is a list of 2014 releases, none of which are perceived as huge hits, which bested the nine-figure release’s first day: Oculus, Need for Speed, Endless Love, The Monuments Men, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Three of those movies are considered disappointments, while the other two had fledgling movie leads. Stating the obvious, Transcendence is the leader in the clubhouse for biggest bomb of 2014.


How did Transcendence fail so completely? A cigar is just a cigar here. Transcendence is a terrible movie. It is currently 19% fresh at RottenTomatoes, a total that represents a SURGE from yesterday’s low point of 13%. The consensus is that the people who wrote, produced and directed Transcendence have never used a computer, tablet or smartphone in their entire lives. They seem to have built their technological foundation on the teachings of 1995’s The Net, stolen some of the visuals from The Matrix Revolutions and assumed that the presence of Johnny Depp would be enough to carry the day. About that strategy…

There was a time in the aftermath of Dancing with Wolves and The Bodyguard when Kevin Costner was the greatest movie star in the world. The perception existed that he could do no wrong at the box office. One ill-fated water project later, Costner experienced a reversal of fortune the likes of which had not been seen in the industry since the days of Charlie Chaplin. A similar repetition of the behavior occurred more recently with Tom Cruise after an ignoble couch jump; I think a lot of people were expecting that meltdown for years, though. The much-loved Johnny Depp’s sudden cold streak is genuinely shocking.

Depp has now achieved a box office poison trifecta for the ages. With Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger and Transcendence, the actor is poised to frontline one of the biggest bombs of the year for three consecutive years. BOP’s research team probably won’t sleep tonight as we try to determine whether this has ever happened before. Costner probably came the closest of anyone recently with the four-year trifecta of Wyatt Earp, Waterworld and The Postman. Overall, those are much worse financial investments than what we are discussing with Depp’s trio of failure. Then again, international revenue was nowhere near as advanced in the 1990s so the recent titles include artificially inflated global box office.

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