Deadpool Roughs Up the $140 million Gods of Egypt
By John Hamann
February 28, 2016
The film stars Gerard Butler (300), Brendon Thwaites (Maleficent) and Geoffrey Rush - a very white cast for a movie called Gods of Egypt, with a release weekend shared with the oh-so-white Oscars. Director Alex Proyas was accused of whitewashing, and the first nail was in the coffin on this one months before it opened. I believe this was more of an economic issue than a race issue, as Lionsgate filmed a movie called Gods of Egypt in Australia (which makes as much sense as white Egyptian gods). The studio chose to shoot in Australia so they could avail themselves of the significant production credit – too many decisions on this one were made for financial reasons despite trying to create a franchise.
The next nail came with the reviews, many of which were quite funny (see Variety’s review for a laugh). At Rotten Tomatoes, only 10 reviewers out of a possible 75 found something to like, leaving the film with a fresh rating of only 13%. The Gods of Egypt page at RottenTomatoes is seriously funny as you get gems like this: “Watching Gods of Egypt is like willingly heating up a giant pot filled with diarrhea until it's as hot as liquid magma and then slowly dripping that stinky, scorching fecal juice into your eye sockets one drop at a time for two hours straight” (Examiner.com). The Cinemascore came in at a could-be-worse B-, but this one should still be gone from theaters very quickly. On the other hand, it will live on like the gods of bad movies.
Putting aside the whitewashing and shooting in Australia, Lionsgate did come up with a pretty good financial model for Gods of Egypt. Yes, the film cost $140 million to make, but Lionsgate significantly reduced their exposure by selling the foreign rights for Gods of Egypt, reducing their financial exposure to only what they say is only $10 million. I would think we need to at least add domestic marketing costs to that outlay, which would push their exposure to at least $50 million, but at least they are not holding the bag on $140 million PLUS marketing. Had the film worked, Lionsgate wouldn’t have made much money, but it could have had a franchise starter, with a sequel poised to make them a bucketful of cash. I believe that for the most part, the Lionsgate model is sound, but the release strategy around Gods of Egypt definitely needs an internal review.
Kung Fu Panda 3 drops to third but holds nicely. The DreamWorks film distributed by Fox picked up another $9 million in its fifth weekend, and dropped a not bad 28%. The gross lifts the domestic take to $128.5 million, all against a budget of $145 million. Panda 3 will eventually match the production budget stateside, and it has already earned $180 million internationally from only four overseas markets. It crossed the $300 million worldwide plateau this weekend, and will open in some other international markets next weekend. It’s going to take a while, but Kung Fu Panda 3 will see a win eventually. Distributor 20th Century Fox is having a massive first quarter what with this one and Deadpool – maybe Fox is the Universal of 2016.