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. (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.