Alt Film Guide
Classic movies. Gay movies. International cinema. Socially conscious & political cinema.
Home Movie NewsBox Office Cloud Atlas: 1 of Tom Hanks’ Worst Debuts Ever

Cloud Atlas: 1 of Tom Hanks’ Worst Debuts Ever

Cloud Atlas Tom Hanks
Cloud Atlas with Tom Hanks.

Tom Hanks’ Cloud Atlas box office: One of Hanks’ weakest wide-release debuts ever

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Oct. 28 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.

Looking at Friday grosses, Cloud Atlas seemed poised to take in somewhere between $11–$12 million. However, according to Warner Bros. estimates reported at, by Sunday night the time- and mind-bending drama will have collected a meager $9.4 million from 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 $12.4 million, down 25 percent) but also Sony Pictures’ Hotel Transylvania ($9.5 million).

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 tepid word of mouth – a mediocre C+ CinemaScore – for a movie with a “disjointed” plotline – if it can be called that.

Anyhow, whatever it was that Christopher Nolan’s Inception had going for it, Cloud Atlas sure lacked it.

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 (as always, not including marketing and  distribution expenses).

On the positive side, on its first weekend out Cloud Atlas grossed nearly as much as Darren Aronofsky’s similarly framed The Fountain brought in ($10.1 million, or about $12.5 million adjusted for inflation) during its entire run in 2006 – despite the presence of Hugh Jackman and one of that year’s Oscar winners, Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener).

Having said that, since Cloud Atlas could theoretically end its domestic run with less than $20 million, 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 production for a reported $15 million. Focus Features International will handle (at least some) foreign territories.

One of Tom Hanks’ worst opening-weekend box office performers

Notably, Cloud Atlas has scored one of Tom Hanks’ weakest wide-release debuts (adjusted for inflation) since the beginning of his movie career in the early 1980s.

If studio estimates are accurate, Cloud Atlas trailed not only the Hanks-Julia Roberts summer 2011 flop Larry Crowne ($13.1 million) but also the modest performer Charlie Wilson’s War ($9.7 million). In fact, one has to go back all the way to Brian De Palma’s 1990 bomb The Bonfire of the Vanities’ ($4.2 million, or about $8 million adjusted) to find a lower Hanks debut in wide release.

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, about $7 million adjusted) and the poorly received comedy remake The Man with One Red Shoe (1985, about $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.

Oct. 27 p.m.

Ben Affleck’s 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. 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.

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, which would make it sturdier than Affleck’s 2010 heis thriller The Town, which had a bigger start than Argo ($23.8 million vs. $19.5 million), but then went on to lose 35–38 percent of its take in each of the two ensuing weekends.

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 ($92.2 million vs. $61.8 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.

Oct. 27 early a.m.

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.

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

Tom Hanks Cloud Atlas image: Warner Bros.

Recommended for You

Leave a Comment

*IMPORTANT*: By using this form you agree with Alt Film Guide's storage and handling of your data (e.g., your IP address). Make sure your comment adds something relevant to the discussion: Feel free to disagree with us and write your own movie commentaries, but *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative. Abusive, inflammatory, spammy/self-promotional, baseless (spreading mis- or disinformation), and just plain deranged comments will be zapped. Lastly, links found in submitted comments will generally be deleted.


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……

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.

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.

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.

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!

Benny -

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

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!

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.


This website uses cookies to improve your experience. If you continue browsing, that means you've accepted our Terms of Use/use of cookies. You may also click on the Accept button on the right to make this notice disappear. Accept Read More