Warner Bros. spent $150 million to bring the Neverland adventure to screens and millions more in marketing, but the big-budget fantasy mustered a puny $15.5 million opening. That debut puts "Pan" alongside "The Fantastic Four" and "Tomorrowland" in the pantheon of the year's most punishing flops.
"It's a huge misfire," said Jeff Bock, box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations, adding, "We won't see another Peter Pan film for awhile."
"Pan's" backers weren't the only ones having a rough weekend. Sony's "The Walk" stumbled in its wide release, expanding from 448 Imax and premium large format theaters to more than 2,500 locations, and eking out $3.6 million in the process. The biopic about Philippe Petit's daring high-wire walk between the Twin Towers cost $35 million to produce and has clear Oscar ambitions for director Robert Zemeckis and the technical team behind the film. It has made a paltry $6.4 million in its initial two weeks. The Sony team seems discouraged that positive reviews for the picture's innovative use of 3D and strong word-of-mouth hasn't lifted "The Walk" higher.
"It's a conundrum why more folks didn't come out, because once you see it, it's one of those films that you never forget," said Rory Bruer, Sony's distribution chief. "It's a picture that everybody put their heart and soul into."
With the new major studio releases teetering, Fox's "The Martian" stabilized overall ticket sales. The space thriller slipped a modest 32% in its second weekend, nabbing $37 million and pushing its domestic total to $108.7 million. Sony's "Hotel Transylvania 2" also showed impressive endurance, racking up $20.3 million in its third weekend and bringing its stateside haul to $116.8 million.
With "Pan" finishing in third place, the top five was rounded out by Warner Bros.' "The Intern" and Lionsgate's "Sicario," which earned $8.7 million and $7.3 million, respectively. "The Intern" has generated $49.6 million in receipts, while "Sicario's" total stands at $26.7 million.
In limited release, Universal's "Steve Jobs" scored, pulling in $521,000 across four theaters for a per-screen average of $130,236. That ranks as the best theater average of the year, and nicely positions the film about the Apple co-founder for its wide release launch on Oct. 23.
"This is a movie that's executed so well that you're not seeing a biography of a man, so much as you're seeing a work of art," said Nicholas Carpou, Universal's domestic distribution chief.
Bruised by poor reviews and the continued strength of "Hotel Transylvania 2," "Pan" failed to deliver family crowds. Roughly 55% of its opening audience was female and 52% of ticket buyers were over 25 years old. The film rolled out across 3,515 locations. "Pan" was originally slated to open in July, but Warner Bros. pushed the film back into October citing the need for more time to complete the visual effects work. The film's cast includes Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara and Garrett Hedlund. Joe Wright, best known for prestige fare like "Atonement," directed the picture.
"Pan's" failure continues a rocky stretch for Warner Bros., which greenlit the picture with ambitions to turn it into a family-friendly franchise. The studio has suffered a string of pricey missteps in recent months, losing tens of millions on the likes of "We Are Your Friends," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Jupiter Ascending."
In the case of "Pan," overseas audiences could cushion the blow and the film has scored a release in China, but a picture like this needs to do at least $400 million to break even. That's a tough figure to hit, particularly with another family film, "Goosebumps," slated to open next weekend.
"It's going to take a lot overseas to help this," said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. "I don't see it holding up next weekend. It doesn't have the space to rebound."