Tom Hanks Cloud Atlas box office: One of Hanks’ weakest (wide-release) debuts ever
Featuring Academy Award winners Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Jim Broadbent (plus Hugh Grant), and directed by The Matrix‘s Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer‘s Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas opened below expectations in North America this pre-Halloween weekend, Oct. 26-28. (Photo: Tom Hanks Cloud Atlas.)
Looking at Friday grosses, Cloud Atlas seemed poised to take in somewhere between $11-12m. However, according to Warner Bros. estimates reported at Box Office Mojo, by Sunday night the time-bending, mind-bending drama will have collected a meager $9.4 million at 2,008 locations (including 105 IMAX screens), averaging only $4,681 per theater. If studio estimates are accurate, Cloud Atlas will be trailing not only Ben Affleck’s political thriller Argo (with a less-than-expected $12.35 million, -25% from last weekend), but also Sony Pictures’ Hotel Transylvania ($9.5m).
Why did Cloud Atlas underperform?
Why did Cloud Atlas underperform? Well, one could blame everything from Hurricane Sandy and Frankenstorm to Halloween costume parties and the just-as-circus-like U.S. presidential election. But chances are that the real culprit was not bad weather or Mitt Romney, but weak word of mouth for a movie with a disjointed plotline — if it can be called that.
For instance, Cloud Atlas, which has a mediocre C+ CinemaScore, was up only (an estimated) 9% on Saturday. For comparison’s sake: Argo was up 35% while Liam Neeson’s critically lambasted thriller Taken 2 was up 33%. Even Tyler Perry’s box-office bomb Alex Cross was up 37% on Saturday. In fact, only two movies had worse Friday-to-Saturday percentage increases (or decrease) than Cloud Atlas: new entries Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (down 23%) and Chasing Mavericks (the Gerard Butler bomb was up a minuscule 4%).
Cloud Atlas‘ originally estimated $12 million first-weekend take wouldn’t have been bad at all for something as unusual as the Tykwer / Wachowski Starship effort. But once again, if studio estimates are correct, $9.4 million is an undeniably poor North American start for a movie that cost a reported $102 million (not including marketing / distribution expenses).
On the positive side, on its first weekend out Cloud Atlas grossed nearly as much as Darren Aronofsky / Hugh Jackman / Rachel Weisz’s similarly framed The Fountain, which brought in $10.14 million ($12.4 million adjusted for inflation) during its entire run in 2006. Having said that, since Cloud Atlas could theoretically end its domestic run with less than $20m, its only chance of at least matching its production budget at the box office is the international market. In the coming months, the Tykwer / Wachowski Starship movie is going to be slowly rolled out around the world.
Playing it safe, Warner Bros. acquired the domestic rights to the independently financed Cloud Atlas for a reported $15m. Focus Features International will handle (at least some) foreign territories.
Cloud Atlas: One of Tom Hanks’ worst opening-weekend box-office performers
Cloud Atlas has scored one of Tom Hanks’ weakest (wide-release) first-weekend grosses (adjusted for inflation) since the beginning of his movie career in the early ’80s. If studio estimates are accurate, Cloud Atlas trailed not only the Hanks / Julia Roberts summer 2011 flop Larry Crowne‘s $13.09 million, but also the modest performer Charlie Wilson’s War ($9.65m). In fact, one has to go back all the way to 1990′s The Bonfire of the Vanities‘ ($4.21 million, or approx. $8 million adjusted) to find a weaker Tom Hanks wide-release debut.
The only two other Tom Hanks movies to suffer lower opening-weekend grosses than Cloud Atlas in the last (almost) three decades are the family drama Nothing in Common (1986, approx. $7 million adjusted) and the poorly received comedy remake The Man with One Red Shoe (1985, approx. $7 million adjusted). True, both had shorter running times (and more daily showings) than Cloud Atlas; however, both were screened at about 1,000 fewer locations as well. (The number of available seats — movie-theater sizes have changed dramatically in the last thirty years — is, of course, unknown.)
Cloud Atlas currently has a mediocre 40% approval rating and 6/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.
Note: Considering that Cloud Atlas was only $100,000 behind Hotel Transylvania, it’s possible that the two movies may have their placements on the domestic box-office chart switched around when weekend actuals are released on Monday.
Tom Hanks Cloud Atlas image: Warner Bros.