Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
October 13, 2015
Kim Hollis: Pan, the ill-advised "prequel" to Peter Pan, debuted with $15.3 million. What do you think of this result?
Ben Gruchow: This one stings for me. Joe Wright is no hack director, and I can only imagine what was going through his mind as production and postproduction wound down on by far his biggest film. He must have seen what this was turning into. The movie itself is a hyperactive, hallucinatory mess, like what would happen if the inmates at the world's most creative insane asylum made it. I was looking forward to this one when the first trailers premiered, and I hate to see it fall so flat.
Matthew Huntley: Unlike Ben, I was NOT looking forward to this one when the trailers first premiered, not only because a Peter Pan prequel simply seemed unnecessary to me, but mostly because it looked the way Ben describes it. To me, the trailer screamed "overproduced mess" and apparently my impressions were accurate according to Mr. Gruchow and the rest of the country (since people tend to avoid "messes" whenever possible). I too hate to see it fall flat because it carries such a heavy price tag (it cost nearly 10x what it earned back on opening weekend, and that's just production expenses), and because Warner Bros. hasn't had a major hit in a while. Plus, someone is bound to lose their job over this, and that's never a good thing. I'll still see the movie at some point to officially form my own opinion of it (its dismal numbers does make me a bit more curious about how bad it really might be), but as far as its box office performance, I'm really not that surprised.
Edwin Davies: I'm a big admirer of Joe Wright's work - his version of Anna Karenina was one of my favorite films of 2012 - but this one reeked of disaster for the better part of a year. The trailers were garish and unappealing, the basic concept was devoted to answering a question no one had asked, and the bad news surrounding the film (pushing the release back from summer to accommodate reshoots, the warranted criticism about casting Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily) made it seem like something audiences could easily pass on.
It also didn't help that there has been precisely one successful Peter Pan adaptation (the Disney version from 1953), and that one has become such a dominant version of the character that it managed to sustain a string of direct-to-DVD films based around a supporting character. Without the Disney seal of approval, Pan looked like a weird knockoff.
Ryan Kyle: The fact that a family film that's three weeks old easily beat Pan's opening just shows how out of touch the marketing was for the target demo (as well as the filmmaker's vision). Warner Bros has been having a lot of trouble all year long, starting with Jupiter Ascending, with their visual-heavy, plot-lite extravaganza films outside of San Andreas' respectable, but not outstanding, numbers. A $15 million opening for a $150 million film is painful. When a film opens so low, even with light holds, there is only so much it can make. With Goosebumps targeting the same audience next week, I'd be surprised if Pan has enough pixie dust in it to reach $40 million.
Kim Hollis: As others have mentioned, I’ve generally liked Joe Wright’s previous work a great deal. Pride & Prejudice was a lush, beautiful adaptation of one of my favorite stories, and Atonement successfully brought to the screen one of the best novels I’ve read in recent years. I was originally pretty excited about the prospect of seeing him work with a bigger budget and a property that offers so much room for creativity.
And then… I saw the trailers. From that point on, I knew Pan was a train wreck. It was clear that the whimsy and adventurous spirit of the Peter Pan story was simply not present here. The film looked ugly and unpleasant, and audiences pick up on that sort of tone really easily. Additionally, it was pretty obvious that Warner Bros. gave up on the film, shifting its release date and all but abandoning the marketing efforts. It’s a huge disaster.
Reagen Sulewski: I find myself wondering when studios are going to stop spending nine figures on films where the majority of the budget is going towards set design. I mean, I get the impulse, because it sure makes them feel like they’re doing something, but it’s very much not the kind of thing that audiences care about, particularly when we’re talking about a project that is self-limiting in audience. You can’t build a dark and foreboding family film and hope to earn hundreds of millions of dollars.
Max Braden: I think $15 million is what was to be expected for this project regardless of who was directing. It was just bound to appeal to very few. Back when Spielberg made Hook in 1991 I'd say the market benefited from appealing to kids more than the teen audiences that at driving sales now, but Hook was a movie that clearly appealed to multiple generations. That's in part because it made the best use of its high profile actors. Hugh Jackman is the most recognizable of Pan's cast and he's completely unrecognizable. In this environment, I don't see how this movie appeals to teens compared to movies like The Maze Runner and others. It's also not going to appeal to the adult audiences who favored fanciful movies like Finding Neverland or even Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. All in all Pan just has a very limited range of appeal.