Directed by Gavin Hood and starring Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford, Ender's Game is going the way of Andrew Stanton's John Carter and Chris Weitz's The Golden Compass at the domestic box office. After opening with a disappointing $27.01 million last weekend (including Thursday evening shows), the $110 million-budgeted was down a whopping 62 percent this past weekend, November 8-10, 2013, collecting a paltry $10.25 million from 3,407 theaters (no reduction in number of venues) according to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo.
One can blame Alan Taylor's Thor: The Dark World, but the action fantasy starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston wasn't the sole culprit. After all, Ender's Game was already trailing both Last Vegas and Bad Grandpa last Thursday.
After two weekends, Ender's Game has reached $44.01 million in the U.S. and Canada. From now on, it'll be fast downhill, especially considering Thor: The Dark World's current dominance at the North American box office, and that competitor The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, directed by Francis Lawrence, and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth, opens at the end of the month.
At this stage, prospects for a big-screen sequel to the Ender's Game movie adaptation — a Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate Pictures release — look dubious at best, though there has been talk of a (way less costly) television series spin-off. Not helping matters is that Ender's Game hasn't set the international box office on fire, having collected a little over $9 million as of November 3, despite debuts in Russia, Germany, Italy, and the UK. Competition from Thor: The Dark World, which opened internationally nearly two weeks ago, was surely part of the problem. (See also: "'Ender's Game' review" and "Ender's Game' Movie Based on Anti-Gay Author Orson Scott Card Book to Top Domestic Box Office.")
'Ender's Game' vs. 'John Carter,' 'The Golden Compass'
For comparison's sake: Starring Taylor Kitsch, John Carter was to have been the first installment in a mammoth movie franchise. That idea went the way of the mammoths after Disney's $250 million-budgeted sci-fier opened with $30.18 million in the U.S. and Canada in March 2012 — despite solid figures overseas (cume: $211.06 million). John Carter's domestic total was $73.07 million.
Back in 2007, the $180 million-budgeted film version of Philip Pullman's bestseller The Golden Compass, featuring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, debuted with $27.78 million (approximately $30 million today) in North America, cuming with $70.1 million. Despite an international gross of $302.17 million, plans to produce sequels to the sci-fi fantasy were scrapped.
A couple more box office comparisons: 'The Host,' 'Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief'
The Host, adapted by Andrew Niccol from Stephenie Meyer's bestseller, and featuring Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Max Irons, and Jake Abel, bombed when it opened with $10.6 million in North America last March. Niccol and Meyer's mix of science fiction, adventure, and romance ended up with a measly $26.55 million in North America (Ender's Game will earn more than that over one single weekend), in addition to $21.6 million internationally as per the latest figures found at Box Office Mojo.
Directed by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) and starring Logan Lerman, the $95 million-budgeted Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief opened with $31.23 million in February 2010, ultimately cuming at $88.76 million domestically and $137.72 million internationally.
For a while, it was touch and go whether or not 20th Century Fox would approve a sequel. Eventually, Fox studio heads greenlit the $90 million-budgeted Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters — and surely came to regret their decision. Released this past summer, the Percy Jackson sequel has to date cumed at $67.7 million in North America and $130.8 million elsewhere.
'Ender's Game' movie cast
Besides Asa Butterfield (Martin Scorsese's Hugo) and Harrison Ford — who once upon a time was the biggest box office draw in the United States (possibly in the world) — Ender's Game also features Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), and Viola Davis (The Help).
Plus: Aramis Knight, Suraj Partha, Moises Arias, Khylin Rhambo, Jimmy 'Jax' Pinchak, Nonso Anozie, Conor Carroll, Stevie Ray Dallimore, Andrea Powell, Caleb J. Thaggart, Cameron Gaskins, Kyle Russell Clements, Brandon Soo Hoo, Wendy Miklovic, Jasmine Kaur, and Han Soto.
Ben Kingsley and Asa Butterfield Ender's Game movie photo: Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate Pictures.