'On the Road': Kristen Stewart Movie Flops + Fans Outraged Re: Robert Pattinson Indie Comparison

On the Road Kristen Stewart. Box office dud despite prestige + name talentOn the Road with Kristen Stewart. Shot in late 2010, screened at the Cannes Film Festival in spring 2012, and re-edited for the American market a few months later, Walter Salles' film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's seminal 1957 novel On the Road landed with a thud at the U.S. box office despite its prestigious behind-the-scenes talent (Salles, The Motorcycle Diaries screenwriter José Rivera, executive producer Francis Ford Coppola) and on-screen name talent, including Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, and Kirsten Dunst.

'On the Road' has hugely disappointing U.S. box office debut

Dec. 24: Directed by Walter Salles, and starring Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, and Kristen Stewart, On the Road had a surprisingly soft bow at the U.S. box office this past weekend, Dec. 21–23. Based on Jack Kerouac's classic 1957 novel, the IFC Films/Sundance Selects-distributed drama – which recently underwent a narrative restructuring to make it more palatable to American audiences – grossed an estimated $39,550 at four locations, averaging an anemic $9,888 per site.

At the North American box office, the weekend before Christmas tends to be quite low-key; but even taking that into account, On the Road's debut was extremely disappointing when one considers the presence of TRON: Legacy actor Garrett Hedlund, and Snow White and the Huntsman and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 actress Kristen Stewart – doing things that Bella could only dream of doing with Edward and Jacob.

Not to mention big names such as Best Actor Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises, 2007), three-time Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Amy Adams (Junebug, 2005; Doubt, 2008; The Fighter, 2010), and Bring It On and Spider-Man actress Kirsten Dunst in supporting roles.

Plus the behind-the-scenes prestige of director Walter Salles, The Motorcycle Diaries screenwriter José Rivera, and executive producer Francis Ford Coppola (Best Director Oscar winner for The Godfather: Part II, 1974).

It remains to be seen whether or not On the Road will gain some much-needed traction throughout the Christmas 2012/New Year's holiday season.

'On the Road': U.S. box office bomb

May 2013 update: Following its lackluster U.S. debut, On the Road went from anemic to comatose. Even so, possibly due to contractual obligations, in late March/early April 2013 IFC Films added, in a couple of installments, 68 locations.

The result was dismal: $1,005 per-theater average on weekend no. 9 (April 5–7). Three weeks later, Walter Salles' road movie was all but gone from U.S. screens.

On the Road ultimately cumed at an embarrassing $744,296 in “North America” (apparently only in the U.S.; i.e., not including Canada). That's far from being enough to cover IFC Films' reported low-seven-figure purchase of the American distribution rights.

Had any of the film's above-the-line talent been singled out by U.S.-based critics' groups, the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globes, and/or the Academy Awards, things would likely have been quite different at the American box office. But that didn't happen. In fact, On the Road was all but completely ignored this past awards season.

As found at boxofficemojo.com (figures may be incomplete), the $25 million-budget multinational (France, Brazil, Canada, U.S., Argentina, U.K.) indie brought in a mere $8.78 million worldwide.

The Impossible trailer with Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. Juan Antonio Bayona's English-language, Spanish-produced, domestic (as in, in Spain) blockbuster The Impossible chronicles the desperate struggles of a white, English-speaking, well-to-do European family dispersed by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. That holiday season cataclysm left up to 280,000 people dead – the vast majority of them not white, or English-speaking, or well-to-do, or European.

'On the Road' vs. 'Amour' & 'The Impossible'

For comparison's sake: At three locations, Michael Haneke's widely acclaimed Palme d'Or winner Amour took in $68,266, averaging $22,755 per site according to [updated box office actuals] found at Box Office Mojo.

Keep in mind that the French-language Amour is hardly an audience-friendly flick: veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z, The Conformist) and Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Kapò), neither of whom means anything to the vast majority of (ignorant) U.S. moviegoers, play an elderly couple facing illness and death.

Here's another comparison: starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, Juan Antonio Bayona's tsunami drama The Impossible (coincidentally distributed by Twilight's Summit Entertainment), debuted with $143,818 at 15 venues, averaging $9,588 per site. That's a lower per-theater average than that of On the Road – but at nearly four times more locations.

Remember, all things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters the higher the per-site average should be. In other words: relatively speaking, The Impossible had an opening four times stronger than that of On the Road.

Spanish blockbuster

The Impossible, by the way, is the highest-grossing movie of the year at the Spanish box office: $52.99 million, far ahead of its runner-up, Breaking Dawn - Part 2, which has raked in $27.95 million.

The Impossible also happens to be Spain's second-biggest box office blockbuster of the last decade, trailing only the James Cameron-Sam Worthington collaboration Avatar, which pulled in a gigantic $109.99 million in late 2009/early 2010.

Also of note, Juan Antonio Bayona had a previous no. 1 hit at the Spanish box office: the atmospheric psychological/horror drama The Orphanage / El Orfanato, starring Belén Rueda, which scored $37.72 million in 2007.

Sergio G. Sánchez's The Impossible screenplay is based on the experiences of Spanish physician and motivational speaker María Belón and her family, obviously Anglicized so as to open up commercial possibilities in the subtitle-phobic U.S. market.

'On the Road' vs. 'Zero Dark Thirty' & 'The Central Park Five'

Of course, it would be unfair to compare On the Road to Kathryn Bigelow's generally well received and highly controversial Zero Dark Thirty, which has been getting lots of awards season buzz, in addition to tons of free publicity from outraged CIA honchos and U.S. congresspeople.

Featuring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, and Chris Pratt, the $40 million political thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden scored $417,150 at five sites, or an outstanding $83,430 average – despite having blown off some steam following its Wednesday debut.

But how about comparing On the Road to IFC Films' own The Central Park Five? Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon's award-winning documentary about a racially tinged miscarriage of justice committed in New York City in the early 1990s collected $30,570 from three locations on its opening weekend a month ago. The Central Park Five averaged $10,190 per venue – or about $300 more than the star-studded On the Road.

'On the Road' vs. two previous Walter Salles movies: 'The Motorcycle Diaries' & 'Central Station'

Distributed by Focus Features, Walter Salles' Spanish-language The Motorcycle Diaries / Diarios de motocicleta, featuring Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo de la Serna, and Breaking Dawn - Part 2 actress Mia Maestro, debuted with $159,819 at three North American locations in late September 2004, averaging a remarkable $53,273 per site (approximately $68,100 adjusted for inflation).

The Motorcycle Diaries went on to gross $16.78 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to $40.88 million internationally.

Back in 1998, the Portuguese-language Central Station / Central do Brasil, starring eventual Best Actress Academy Award nominee Fernanda Montenegro, averaged $17,854 (approx. $30,200 adjusted) at two locations on its opening weekend.

Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, Central Station, which was also shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, cumed at $5.59 million in North America.

Cosmopolis Juliette Binoche. Multiple award-winning actress is billionaire consultant + sex interestCosmopolis with Juliette Binoche. Based on Don DeLillo's 2003 novel, screenwriter-director David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis follows a young New York City billionaire investor while he travels through town on his way to getting a haircut with his favorite barber. Robert Pattinson plays the white limo-riding billionaire while among those seen along the way are Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Samantha Morton, Jay Baruchel, Mathieu Amalric, and Paul Giamatti. Prix César, European Film Award, BAFTA, Oscar, and Berlin, Cannes, and Venice winner Juliette Binoche plays the billionaire's art consultant and sex interest.

'On the Road' vs. Robert Pattinson's 'Cosmopolis'

Another comparison: like On the Road, David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis is an “automobile-set,” stream-of-consciousness 2012 Cannes Film Festival entry that received mixed reviews in the U.S.

Starring Kristen Stewart's fellow Twilight Saga actor Robert Pattinson, Cosmopolis raked in $70,339 at three locations, averaging a respectable $23,446 per venue on its U.S. debut (via eOne Films) last August.

The film's initial bow was likely helped by the Kristen Stewart-Rupert Sanders to-do that in late summer kept the U.S. tabloid media in a state of frenzy for weeks. Yet, after its solid start Cosmopolis' per-theater average plummeted to a meager $2,453 following a minor expansion on weekend no. 2.

The Cronenberg-Pattinson collaboration ultimately reached a paltry $763,556 in North America (including Canada, where the movie had been released in the spring).

'Cosmopolis' cast

Like On the RoadCosmopolis also boasts a name cast. Besides Robert Pattinson, featured in David Cronenberg's stream-of-consciousness white limo movie are:

Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, 1996).

Two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton (as Best Supporting Actress for Sweet and Lowdown, 1999; as Best Actress for In America, 2003).

Three-time Prix César winner Mathieu Amalric (as Most Promising Actor for My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument, 1996; as Best Actor for Kings & Queen, 2004; The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 2007).

Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man, 2005).

Sarah Gadon. Jay Baruchel. Kevin Durand. Emily Hampshire.

On the Road Kristen Stewart Garrett Hedlund. From Bella Swan to free spirit MarylouOn the Road with Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund. In recent years, Kristen Stewart has gone from Bella Swan to Joan Jett to pole dancer to fairy-tale heroine to free spirit. Based on LuAnne Henderson, On the Road's Marylou is the girlfriend of the bisexual Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), himself based on ex-con and author Jack Kerouac's muse Neal Cassady. The road movie's third wheel, Sal Paradise, is based on Kerouac himself, who seems to have been unable to come to grips with his homosexual feelings, ending up an out-of-control alcoholic and, in a number of ways, a hard-line right-winger. A year after Cassady, Kerouac died at age 47 in 1969.

'On the Road' international box office & budget

According to figures – seemingly incomplete – found at Box Office Mojo, On the Road has collected $8.04 million internationally. Its top markets are France with $2.7 million, Brazil with $1.59 million, Italy with $1.13 million, and the U.K. with $934,000.

Brazil's relatively good showing can partly be explained by the fact that Walter Salles is a renowned filmmaker in his home country, while Kristen Stewart has a huge following there as well.

On the Road cost a reported $25 million. IFC Films acquired it for an amount “in the low seven figures.”

IFC Films' flops & 'On the Road' weak reviews

Something else worth noting is that IFC Films releases haven't been faring very well at all at the U.S. box office. The most successful 2012 IFC movie is Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish's Sleepwalk with Me, which collected a grand total of $2.26 million, after opening with (an impressive) $68,801 at one New York City location in late August.

In fact, IFC's generally prestigious entries may find long lives in the home-video market, but at the box office their overall performance has ranged from the very modest to the downright disastrous.

Lastly, not helping matters for On the Road are its wildly mixed reviews. Walter Salles' film has a mediocre 44 percent approval rating and 5.9/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

On the Road will reportedly reach more theaters on Jan. 18, eight days after the 2013 Academy Award nominations are announced. Notwithstanding Kristen Stewart's visibility at various awards season functions, at this stage it doesn't seem likely that the film will be found in many – or any – Oscar categories.

'On the Road' cast

Besides the aforementioned Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, and Kirsten Dunst, the On the Road cast features:

Elisabeth Moss. Tom Sturridge. Alice Braga. Danny Morgan. Steve Buscemi.

Best Actor Oscar nominee Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow, 2005).

Veteran Michael Sarrazin (They Shoot Horses Don't They?Sometimes a Great Notion) in his last film appearance. (Sarrazin died at age 70 in 2011.)

'On the Road' box office post leads to numerous outraged comments

Update: This On the Road box office post has received dozens of comments. Below is a condensed version of a four-part, multi-author reply/clarification initially published in late December 2012.

Filled with a strong sense of moralistic outrage – but little sense of logical reasoning or factual information – a number of Robert Pattinson and/or Kristen Stewart fans/trolls have sent us a barrage of irate comments.

Some were infuriated by the fact that the article compares the U.S. opening-weekend box office performances of On the Road (Kristen Stewart) and Cosmopolis (Robert Pattinson). Worse yet, the post suggests that Cosmopolis was at first helped by the Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart-Rupert Sanders-Liberty Ross quadrangle scandal.

Of course, that sort of outrage comes with the territory. The Internet offers a great – and greatly disturbing – glimpse into humankind's (safely anonymous) sociopathic tendencies.

In all fairness, however, when it comes to the On the Road vs. Cosmopolis box office comparison, there are some things that could be made more clear.

On the Road: Kristen Stewart Movie Flops + Fans Outraged Re: Robert Pattinson Indie Comparison” follow-up post: “Comparison Enrages Fans: Kristen Stewart Sexy Flop vs. Robert Pattinson Cool Bomb.”


Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart On the Road images: IFC Films.

The Impossible trailer: Summit Entertainment.

Juliette Binoche Cosmopolis image: eOne Films.

On the Road: Kristen Stewart Movie Flops + Fans Outraged Re: Robert Pattinson Indie Comparison” last updated in July 2018.

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11 Comments to 'On the Road': Kristen Stewart Movie Flops + Fans Outraged Re: Robert Pattinson Indie Comparison

  1. David Pujols

    Art Film Guide's Teams.
    On the Road Film is one of the best Kristen Stewart celluloid.
    Here and in other film, she work with all the knowledge about she want to do, because she can made that, with all her soul and their heart!.
    Sincerely, I wish alls the God's blesses for her!.

    David Pujols

  2. Ridley

    Was this sold as a Kristen Stewart movie? It can't be since with the summary of the plot everyone knew she had a minuscule part.

  3. Lena

    On The road was sold as a Kristen Stewart's movie, no surprise that it is a dismal failure.

  4. didi

    Theatre tickets aren't cheap, so when people decide to buy one, the big majority will do it because they're interested to see the movie and /or its actors, not because of their private life. The actor can attract more attention on premieres the way it happened to Rob Pattinson in NY, but it's not the kind of attention they're looking for and not the kind that improves the ticket sales IMO. Fans of Rob and fans of Cronenberg planned to see the movie anyway. Many didn't like it and that did the round. It's an unaccessible film, a love it or hate it movie that's getting more positive attention now since the DVD is released in many countries. Word of mouth is doing its job on twitter and moviesites. I guess the positive buzz will grow within the years to come.
    Real Cronenberg fans didn't stay away because of Pattinson as a poster here wrote, he was praised by most critics and Cronenberg himself on many occasions.
    Didn't see On the Road, so I can't say anything about that. Don't think the scandal influenced its BO numbers either.
    What would've been a disaster was the scandal happening like a month before Breaking Dawn II. That would've influenced the BO for sure.

  5. Vanquish

    What we forget is Kristen isn't even a lead in OTR. Yes out of all the female actors she appears the most, but it's Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley who carry the weight for this movie. So I don't get why people are pinning the box office numbers on her. But then again any success isn't because of Kristen and every failure is because of Kristen. That's the mentality of haters.

  6. Alt Film Guide


    Use a calculator and add up the figures per country.

    And next time, take a look at the DATE next to the “Total” figure. Box Office Mojo's international totals aren't always fully up to date.

  7. Parker

    Just a question about earlier post about On The Road, the one where you passively aggressively trashed Cosmopolis and credited its opening of more than twice On The Road's to Kristen's publicly cheating on Rob with a married father (or, in your words, the Rupert Sanders/Kristen Stewart/Rob Pattinson “to-do” - cuz sure - why not throw some blame at Rob too!!!). You noted that according to BOM, On The Road has grossed over $8m internationally. Just wondering if there's some other BOM site that I'm missing. According to the one I go to, it's grossed, $5.9m internationally (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=ontheroad.htm). Do you have some other source?

  8. Connan

    I'm not going to lie - I was disappointed with such soft OTR opening. There was so much buzz, so many screenings, so much anticipation - but, I guess, it wasn't enough to generate an avalanche of interest from general public.

    The long wait of this movie also contributed to eventual lack of interest. Also, I'm totally puzzled by the choice of locations this movie is getting distribution to. I understand that initial ”test” number of theaters is small, what I don't get - how they getting selected for potential second/third/etc… screenings. I live in Boston area and the only theater where (in February!) fans could watch this movie is located in Berkshire county(!!), tiny-mini town 135 miles from Boston. We have number of indie theaters here - in Cambridge, West Newton, Brookline with great selection of small indie or foreign movies - and they are not included into list. Mystery. Nobody will drive 2 hours in winter time to watch it.
    Critics slaughtering of this movie didn't help BO obviously either, that's why I never read any reviews before watching movie which picked up my interest (plot, actors involved, etc…).
    Garret, Sam and Kristen performances are so captivating in OTR (from leaked scenes what I could see so far) that OTR should be watched at least because of them, especially Kristen - she expanded her acting range dramatically, exiting her comfort zone and delivering breathtaking performance.

    Now, about theorizing and debating how THE “scandal” might have affected BO of both Cosmo and OTR. About Cosmo (JMHO of course) - there is no second opinion needed.
    After the scandal all the sympathy FLOWS worldwide for Rob. “Coincidentally”, right in time for Cosmopolis premiere. EVERYONE feels badly for him and many tune in to watch just out of morbid curiosity to see how he'll handle the “situation”. And Cosmopolis is bigger than expected. YES - he was great no doubt and the film fantastic but who would have paid attention to this indie film but fans? OTR – different scenario, time passed, nothing is forgotten yet, but everyone tired of it, momentum is lost. It's a pity that this movie didn't get attention it deserves.

    I must admit, I'm not fan of the book but I'm fan of Kristen/Garret/Sam team. So, looks like DVD or VOD are the only options left.

  9. Alt Film Guide


    If these are final figures, “On the Road” didn't do very well at all in Scandinavia. Figures via Box Office Mojo (www.boxofficemojo.com)

    Denmark $75,151
    Finland $185,151
    Sweden $51,774

  10. Em

    It´s kind of strange/sad that this novel turned film has been so ignored by the general American public since it is such a pivotal piece of work in American literature. Do you have any idea how the movie faired in Sweden/Scandinavia?

  11. Freda Ericssen

    The main reason for the flop is that OTR has been available for free download online for a couple of months. The movie was released in most of the countries in summer/early fall, and it appeared to be kind of lost in distribution for the US. Obviously, they hoped for award buzz but it didn't happen.