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'Cloud Atlas': One of Tom Hanks' Worst Opening Weekends Ever

Tom Hanks Cloud AtlasTom Hanks Cloud Atlas box office: One of Hanks' weakest (wide-release) debuts ever

Oct. 28, '12, update: 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 (see further below) in North America this pre-Halloween weekend, Oct. 26-28. (Image: Tom Hanks Cloud Atlas.)

Looking at Friday grosses, Cloud Atlas seemed poised to take in somewhere between $11-12 million. 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, down 25 percent 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 percent on Saturday. For comparison's sake: Argo was up 35 percent while Liam Neeson's critically lambasted thriller Taken 2 was up 33 percent. Even Tyler Perry's box office bomb Alex Cross was up 37 percent 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 percent) and Chasing Mavericks (the Gerard Butler bomb was up a minuscule 4 percent).

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 $15 million. 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 percent 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.

Oct. 27 p.m.

Ben Affleck Argo Iran movieBen Affleck Argo to top domestic box office on third weekend out

Now on its third weekend out, Ben Affleck's Argo is expected to top the U.S. and Canada box office this very slow pre-Halloween weekend, Oct. 26-28. Affleck's well-received political thriller should collect somewhere around $13 million by Sunday evening after taking in an estimated $3.95 million on Friday, according to figures found at Boxofficemojo.com. (Image: Ben Affleck in his Iran / hostage movie Argo.)

Last weekend, Argo trailed Paranormal Activity 4; the previous weekend, it trailed Taken 2. This weekend, barring a major upset, Argo will beat the previous two weekend box office champs, plus newcomers Silent Hill: Revelation 3D and Cloud Atlas. Note: If there's one movie that has a chance, however slight, of dethroning Argo, that's Cloud Atlas.

Argo vs. The Town

Also worth noting is that if Argo does reach $13 million this weekend, that'll mean another quite modest drop-off rate: around 20 percent. For comparison's sake: The Town had a bigger start than Argo ($23.8 million vs. $19.45 million), but Affleck's previous directorial effort was down 35 percent on weekend no. 2 ($15.6 million) and 37.5 percent on weekend no. 3 ($9.74 million). Last weekend, Argo was down a minuscule 15 percent.

In other words, there's an excellent chance that by the end of next weekend (or earlier) Argo will have surpassed The Town's box office take – at the end of this weekend, Argo should reach around $61 million vs. The Town's $64.05 million. Besides, unlike The Town, Argo may surpass the $100 million milestone at the North American box office. Internationally, things look iffier, at least for the time being: Argo had modest openings in several South American and East Asian countries. The Town, by the way, was a much bigger hit in North America than elsewhere ($92.18 million vs. $61.83 million.)

In addition to Ben Affleck, the Argo cast includes Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Alan Arkin. Affleck is one of the film's producers, and so is George Clooney.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D no. 2 on Friday

I should add that it was initially thought that Silent Hill: Revelation 3D had topped the domestic box office on Friday; as per studio estimates, however, that didn't happen. The horror movie earned a less-than-expected $3.5 million at 2,933 venues. For comparison's sake: back in 2006, Silent Hill grossed $8.1 million (not adjusted for inflation) on opening day.

Directed by Michael J. Bassett, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D will likely pull in at most $10 million over the weekend. The impressive cast of this Open Road Films release includes Kit Harington, Adelaide Clemens, Deborah Kara Unger, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell, and veteran Malcolm McDowell.

Ben Affleck Argo movie photo: Warner Bros.

Cloud Atlas Tom HanksCloud Atlas box office: Likely to debut at no. 2

Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer's Cloud Atlas, featuring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, and Jim Broadbent, could end up grossing somewhere around $11.5-12 million at 2,008 locations (including 105 IMAX screens) over the Oct. 26-28 weekend, after taking in an estimated $3.45 million on Friday according to studio figures found at Box Office Mojo. If so, Cloud Atlas will likely trail only one movie: Ben Affleck's Argo, which is expected to score around $13 million on its third weekend out. (Image: Tom Hanks Cloud Atlas.)

In a way, that's not bad at all for Cloud Atlas, what with its near-three-hour running time and multiple storylines. For comparison's sake: Darren Aronofsky / Hugh Jackman / Rachel Weisz's similarly framed The Fountain collected $10.14 million ($12.4 million adjusted for inflation) during its entire run in 2006.

Having said that, if Cloud Atlas' reported $100 million budget is correct, the Tykwer / Wachowski Starship effort will have to perform much more strongly outside North America if its international backers are to recover their investment. Playing it safe, Warner Bros. reportedly acquired the domestic rights to Cloud Atlas for only $15 million.

Cloud Atlas to become one of Tom Hanks' weakest opening-weekend box office performers

Also, Cloud Atlas will inevitably bring in one of Tom Hanks' weakest (wide-release) first-weekend grosses of the last 25 years (adjusted for inflation). If Cloud Atlas doesn't way overperform, it'll trail even the Hanks / Julia Roberts summer 2011 flop Larry Crowne's $13.09 million – though it should land ahead of Charlie Wilson's War, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and Joe Versus the Volcano.

Now, could Cloud Atlas ultimately top this weekend's domestic box office chart? Though not impossible, that's unlikely. Cloud Atlas was trailing Argo by an estimated half a million dollars on Friday; additionally, the Ben Affleck political thriller has more buzz, better reviews, and it's the more accessible moviegoing experience. Official weekend estimates will be released on Sunday morning.

Cloud Atlas currently has a mediocre 40 percent approval rating and 6/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

Tom Hanks Cloud Atlas image: Warner Bros.

Oct. 27 early a.m.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D Adelaide Clemens, Kit HaringtonSilent Hill: Revelation 3D box office: the no. 1 movie in North America on Friday?

Ben Affleck's Argo is expected to top the North American box office this – very low-key – pre-Halloween weekend. And Argo, now on its third weekend out, isn't even a horror movie, but an action flick with political undertones. But then again, in this day and age that may amount to the same thing. (Image: Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.)

Now, with an estimated $4 million, the no. 1 movie on Friday apparently was the Michael J. Bassett-directed horror flick Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, which, like most horror movies, is expected to lose steam in the weekend proper. At 2,933 venues, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D should gross somewhere between $10-11 million by Sunday evening. The surprisingly classy cast of this Open Road Films release includes Kit Harington, Adelaide Clemens, Deborah Kara Unger, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell, and veteran Malcolm McDowell.

Argo likely no. 1 for the weekend, Cloud Atlas better than expected

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D will be battling it out with Argo for Friday dominance. Affleck's Iranian-set thriller took in $3.9 million according to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com. Frankenstorm or no, Argo may reach $13 million by Sunday evening, thus, as mentioned above, topping the domestic box office chart. Also worth noting is that if Argo does indeed reach $13 million, that'll represent another modest drop-off rate for the critically acclaimed film: around 20 percent.

At no. 2 for the weekend, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer's nearly 3-hour drama Cloud Atlas, featuring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, and Jim Broadbent, may reach somewhere around $12 million at 2,008 locations (including 105 IMAX screens) after collecting an estimated – and better than expected – $3.7 million on Friday. Question mark: Could Cloud Atlas ultimately top the weekend? If those early Friday figures are correct, that seems highly unlikely – though not impossible if word of mouth is unbelievably strong. We'll see.

Also with an estimated $3.7 million on Friday: Paranormal Activity 4, which will likely reach somewhere between $10-11 million over the weekend. Rounding out the top five on Friday was the Liam Neeson actioner Taken 2, with $2.7 million and $8.5-9 million for the weekend.

Victoria Justice's Fun Size, Gerard Butler's Chasing Mavericks bomb

This pre-Halloween weekend's major flops will be Paramount's comedy Fun Size, featuring Victoria Justice, which is expected to earn $4-4.5 million at 3,014 locations over the weekend ($1.4 million on Friday), and the Gerard Butler “inspirational” surfing movie Chasing Mavericks, which should bring in a disastrous $2.5 million at 2,002 sites ($800,000 on Friday).

Both Fun Size and Chasing Mavericks, which also features Jonny Weston and Elisabeth Shue, may end up grossing less than their studios' already quite modest expectations. Distributor 20th Century Fox, for instance, is reportedly expecting $3 million for Chasing Mavericks.

Weekend box office estimates will likely be tweaked some tomorrow, after official studio estimates are released.

Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harington Silent Hill: Revelation 3D photo: Open Road Films.

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8 Comments to 'Cloud Atlas': One of Tom Hanks' Worst Opening Weekends Ever

  1. Kristine

    Certain one of the worst movie I have seen in a long long time. Sorry badly strung together and plots kept jumping around like a uber short attention kid's head on steroid, nothing can save this movie from falling off the cliff into the deep abyss. Don't expect your audience to get it if you are not trying to tell a story clearly. The producer is clearly trying hard to make this production look smart and sophisticate with nonlinear plots. The subtext of karma and reincarnation is presented here very weakly. Saw people left the theater walking out in disgust. Luckily I only paid 2 dollars for this shameful production……

  2. Matt

    This is definitely a love-it or hate-it film and the only way to tell is to see it for yourself. Personally, I loved the movie. It's beautiful, it's life-affirming. I found the acting, writing, music, cinematography, and effects all to be fantastic. Even if it is a flop at the box office it will be a movie with a strong and loyal following for years to come and will still be remembered and discussed long after many of this year's biggest hits are forgotten.

  3. bea

    I saw the movie and I like it. `However its one of those movie where you have to know what its about. If you don't, you wont get it. And you wont like it. I would like to see it again with a list infront of me of all the stars and the characters they played. Too figure out the thread from which they were. It was a film I actually thought about afterwards. Most films i dont think about.

  4. jacob warber

    This movie was horrible, I don't care what part of the world your in- this movie is awful. Was hoping for something awesome, but nothing happened. Very boring and way too long. I've never seen a theater audience walk out of a film and look so disappointed.

  5. Natalie

    I loved Cloud Atlas! I thought all the actors & actresses gave an outstanding performance!! It's amazing to me how one person can be so many people, that are so different in one movie! It's very disappointing how it did at the box office, but I don't think that's an accurate representation of how great everyone did & how good the movie is as a whole! Ill definitely pay to see it at least one more time!

  6. Benny

    I wish Tom Hanks had not been involved in this film. Worst $20 I have ever spent at the movies.

  7. WayneQ

    Noticed that Cloud Atlas is being shown at 30% less theaters than Argo and Silent Hill. That has a large effect on total take per day, don't you think? The revenue per theater is 24% higher for Cloud vs. Argo. Just wait until the theater count goes up!

  8. Jay Raskin

    The actual approval rating is 62% among critics and 78% among audience.
    The poor box office opening is because people are concentrating on the storm and politics this weekend.
    It is still one of Tom Hanks best movies of his career. He will certainly be nominated for an Academy Award.
    Critics think the audience is not smart enough to appreciate the film. In fact, the audience I saw it with on Friday Night clapped loudly at the end. It was easily the best movie I have seen in a theater all year.