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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Movie Box Office: Well-Regarded Edgar Wright Comedy Is Latest Universal Bomb

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie Michael Cera Mary Elizabeth WinsteadScott Pilgrim vs. the World movie with Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Universal has delivered another box office flop.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie box office: Edgar Wright’s comic-book adaptation has turned out to be a sizable flop everywhere. Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Anna Kendrick are three members of the mostly youthful ensemble.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie box office: Edgar Wright’s generally well-received romantic action comedy is a commercial bomb in the making

Aug. 13–15 weekend box office (cont.): Of the three newcomers in wide release – Lionsgate’s The Expendables, Sony Pictures’ Eat Pray Love, Universal’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – the last title was by far the best-reviewed one. Scott Pilgrim has a 79 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics,” vs. The Expendables‘ 42 percent and Eat Pray Love’s 36 percent.

Yet that meant little to North American (U.S. and Canadian only) moviegoers, as this Edgar Wright-directed comic-book-based romantic action comedy landed at no. 5 on the domestic box office chart, taking in a mere $10.6 million from 2,818 theaters according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

Ahead of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World were the two previously mentioned newcomers and two holdovers: The Sylvester Stallone actioner The Expendables grossed $34.8 million, the Julia Roberts romantic drama Eat Pray Love $23.1 million, the Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy The Other Guys $17.4 million (down 51 percent from its opening weekend take), and the Christopher Nolan-Leonardo DiCaprio blockbuster Inception $11.3 million (down 39 percent).

Why, oh, why?

But how could Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, one of the most anticipated movies of the year – and a social media hit – turn out to be such a big-screen flop?

Well, there are several possibilities:

Now, just wondering: How many bombs is a Hollywood studio allowed to drop each year?

$85 million (or $60 million?) dud

Whatever the answer, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World cost a reported $85 million, presumably pared down to $60 million after rebates. Bear in mind that, as always, that doesn’t include marketing and distribution expenses.

In the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World cast: Michael Cera as the titular character, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, and Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, 2009).

Edgar Wright and Michael Bacall adapted Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book series.

Meager earnings

Update: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World ultimately collected a meager $31.5 million domestically and an even more dismal (albeit probably incomplete) $16.1 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $47.7 million. Rebates or no, a total box office disaster.

In May 2021, a domestic COVID-19-era rerelease celebrating the movie’s ten-year anniversary (though Scott Pilgrim was actually about to turn 11) added another $1.8 million to its gross. Grand domestic total: $33.3 million. Grand worldwide total: $49.4 million.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($8.4 million), Australia ($2.9 million), and Russia/CIS ($1.1 million).


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Movie Box Office” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Movie Box Office: Well-Regarded Edgar Wright Comedy Is Latest Universal Bomb” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Michael Cera Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie image: Universal Pictures.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Movie Box Office: Well-Regarded Edgar Wright Comedy Is Latest Universal Bomb” last updated in January 2023.

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8 comments

Me -

It failed because of the small taget audience and the fact that the vast majority of people won’t get it (see above comments). I for one thought it was fucking brilliant, and while it wasn’t a 100% accurate representation, it certainly stayed true to the spirit of the comics.

When a studio wants to make money they put out some crappy CG spunkfest film and hype the crap out of it (cough, Avatar).

Reply
1oftheCynics -

I can’t tell you how many of my “Comic-Geek, Hipster” friends were foaming at the mouths when they saw the trailer for this train-wreck online, to which, their very next responses were “I can’t wait to download this online!”

There is your answer Hollywood. The average über-geek doesn’t bother going to the movies.

This is probably the next hard lesson Marvel Studios will learn when THOR comes out.

Reply
pete -

Reason you knew it would: Michael Cera. He is box office poison. No one likes him. RIP Universal.

Reply
Donna -

Way to go right to criticizing the fans.

I’m honestly surprised if anyone thought this would be a big hit, it’s targeted towards a very specific market and age range. Yes, a lot of the people seeing it are fans of the comics, friends of fans, or just part of the general group it was meant for. That’s not to say that only a certain group will find it funny, but it’s certainly not an all-ages blockbuster.

Personally, I was very entertained and so were most of the people at the showing I went to. I went to be entertained, I saw, and I appreciated the way the comic came to life. It probably was confusing for people who haven’t read the books though, or don’t like video games.

Reply
judyjewel -

As a late twenties woman, Scott Pilgrim didn’t look interesting to me at all. Neither did EPL. I enjoyed The Expendables with my husband and he took me to see Eclipse (guilty pleasure) again.

Also, can someone on this site do a story about On the Road? There have been pictures, casting, and news, but I haven’t seen it here. I would be happy if you did.

Reply
Kent -

What is up with these nerd hipsters desperate to get a film that “validates” their sexless, pointless loser high school years?

The reason this film bombed was because it was STUPID. Only the three or four fanboys who read the comic cared for the quirky nonsense that this film offered. Well that’s clearly not enough to make a film a hit.

This movie was exactly what the handful of SP comic readers wanted and that’s why it bombed. General audiences saw no reason to watch a whiny punk rationalize getting into 7 pointless fights over a girl who is clearly a mega-tramp.
And does the world need another story about teen angst? Who is benefitting from this sub-genre?

Stop obsessing over high school already. SP’s failure is the failure of it’s fanbase. Everything that’s wrong with the story, how the movie was marketed and made is also what’s wrong with them. End of story.

Reply
greg -

Scott Pilgrim will be a cult classic? Pfft. Eat, Pray, Live has been on the NYT bestseller lists for months. The movie isn’t going to fade into obscurity. The Expendables starred all the older actions guys from everyone’s childhood. If any of these movies will be a cult classic, it will be that.

Scott Pilgrim was another fail by a studio to make a movie based on a comic book that no one, but a few hipster nerds reads. See Kickass and The Watchmen for further analysis. I knew from the trailer that this would suck, so I’ll skip it and see it on DVD one day. The studio also failed by putting Cera as the lead and spending a bunch of money on advertising a dud. If the costs were lower, it could go down as some little indie, but they tried to make it bigger. Wright does not get the American audience. This film won’t do great internationally either though.

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Ben -

It’s funny you compare Scott Pilgrim to Charlie St. Cloud. They scored about the same box office but doesn’t it show actually why Zac Efron is much more of a star than people are giving him credit for.

Scott Pilgrim had a large advertising campaign with promotion building for 15 months, it had a large cast behind the star Michael Cera who could promote it, and it had great reviews.

Charlie St. Cloud had terrible advertising that started only 11 weeks before the film came out, Zac Efron was the only one pushing it, and it had terrible reviews.

There were many reasons for people to turn up to Scott Pilgrim. Where as Zac Efron’s the only reason people turned up to Charlie St. Cloud and he did equal business.

It is unfortunate for Scott Pilgrim and for Zac Efron. Both deserved better than Universal.

Reply

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