The Huntsman Is No Box Office Fairy Tale
By John Hamann
April 24, 2016
Overseas, The Jungle Book earned another $96 million, pushing its international take up to $337 million. I think that if Disney can get the international box office up to $600 million, they are going to have a chance at a $1 billion property, similar to Alice in Wonderland. Leading up to the release of The Jungle Book, most comparisons were looking at Cinderella, but should have been pointing at Alice, as that appears to be the model the Jon Favreau film is following. Alice earned $334 million domestically and $691 million overseas against a $200 million budget. The Jungle Book cost a bit less at $175 million, which means The Jungle Book is already a financial winner for Disney.
Disney has put itself in a position to have a ridiculously big year. It had hit $1 billion worldwide by March 25th, on the strength of the latter half of Star Wars and Zootopia’s worldwide take (at the time) of $416 million. With second half of Zootopia’s result moving to the second billion and now The Jungle Book, the mouse house should be knocking on the door of $2 billion shortly. Next for the conglomerate is Captain America: Civil War (which might as well be called Avengers 3), and given that this one can earn $400 million LESS than Ultron and still turn in a billion, that’s pushing Disney to $3 billion. Then, unless it’s a complete dog, Alice Through the Looking Glass could pull in another billion worldwide, pushing Disney up to $4 billion.
After May is through, the studio features the summer trifecta of Finding Dory, Pete’s Dragon and The BFG, three films that should easily combine for another billion, if not $1.5 billion worldwide. To keep it easy, we will say just $1 billion, putting the studio's total up to $5 billion. Doctor Strange and Moana are likely another billion (now up to $ 6 billion), and then the studio has another Star Wars film, which is likely good for another standalone billion. If everything goes right, I’m seeing a $7 billion dollar year- minimum - for what is currently the greatest studio on earth.
Finishing a sad second is The Huntsman: Winter’s War, a title that is beyond ugly, barely relating back to the first film, and dropping the key element from the original’s title (Snow White). With all the good things about the original gone, like the built-in audience due to Snow White’s titular involvement, and Kristen Stewart, this poorly titled sequel had an impossible uphill climb to find success, which was exacerbated by a large $115 million budget. And fail it did, getting started on Thursday with a sad $1 million take from previews, not enough when your film carries that kind of budget. The Friday number was soft at $7.3 million, especially when you consider that it had the help of the preview in that number.
Universal’s Huntsman finished the weekend with a rough $20.1 million from a large 3,791 venues. The original Huntsman opened to almost three times that amount at $56.2 million, pretty much the opposite of what Universal expected to happen. You shouldn’t have to ask what went wrong, because everything did. The studio, as did most people, severely under-estimated The Jungle Book, but that wasn’t the fatal mistake. That came in the making of the film, which fell apart with the central concept of Snow White gone. The Huntsman is currently 17% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and top critics came in even worse at only 9%. Since that 9% message is going out to major media, you are pretty much done, as social media isn’t alone on sending the word out to the general public.