- The Forbidden Kingdom box office: Directed by Rob Minkoff, and starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li, the U.S./China wuxia was the top movie in the near-comatose domestic market this past weekend.
- More box office news: The Judd Apatow-produced comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall had a mediocre domestic debut while the Al Pacino crime thriller 88 Minutes is an all-out bomb.
The Forbidden Kingdom box office: Jackie Chan & Jet Li Sino-American wuxia tops sluggish domestic chart
April 18–20 weekend box office: A $55 million U.S./China coproduction released in the United States by Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company, Rob Minkoff’s period martial-arts spectacle The Forbidden Kingdom was the no. 1 movie in North America (U.S. and Canada only), grossing a middling $21.4 million from 3,151 theaters according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
In an obvious attempt to make this latest entry in the wuxia genre more appealing to American audiences (and to justify its partial American funding), The Forbidden Kingdom features a young U.S. actor in a key role: Michael Angarano plays a Boston teenager who, by way of a magical staff, time/space-travels to Ancient China. There he meets Jackie Chan (as the legendary “immortal” scholar Lu Yan) and Jet Li (as the legendary silent monk Sun Wukong).
Also in the cast: Li Bingbing and Thomas McDonnell.
Stronger figures in North America & East Asia
Update: The Jackie Chan-Jet Li wuxia The Forbidden Kingdom ultimately collected a mediocre $52.1 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to $76.7 million elsewhere. Worldwide total: $128.8 million.
That figure likely wasn’t enough for the period martial arts actioner to break even at the box office alone. Having said that, things become a bit fuzzy when one considers that The Forbidden Kingdom is a Chinese coproduction that earned a large chunk of its gross in China (the movie’s other “domestic” market): $26.9 million.
Apart from China, The Forbidden Kingdom’s top territories outside North America were South Korea ($8.1 million), Japan ($6.5 million), and Spain ($3.7 million).
Producer Judd Apatow’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall has mediocre debut
Trailing The Forbidden Kingdom this past weekend, Universal Pictures’ romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall opened with a just so-so $17.7 million from 2,798 locations. Budget: A relatively modest $30 million.
Produced by Judd Apatow (whose Superbad was a late summer sleeper hit last year) and marking the directorial big-screen debut of film/TV writer Nicolas Stoller (Fun with Dick and Jane), Forgetting Sarah Marshall features Jason Segel as a pathetic man obsessed with his ex, gorgeous and successful actress Kristen Bell (as the titular Sarah Marshall), who had dumped him for unwashed rock star Russell Brand. Mila Kunis costars as a Hawaiian hotel receptionist and Segel’s other female interest.
Also in the Forgetting Sarah Marshall cast: Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Maria Thayer, Jason Bateman, Paul Rudd, and William Baldwin. (Update: The unrated DVD version also features Kristen Wiig.)
Unimpressive domestic & international grosses – but good enough worldwide total
Update: The Judd Apatow-Nicolas Stoller effort Forgetting Sarah Marshall ultimately collected a barely decent $63.2 million domestically and a so-so $42.7 million internationally. Worldwide total: $105.8 million – surely enough for the modestly budgeted romantic comedy to be profitable.
Unsurprisingly for a U.S. comedy, especially one featuring no international stars, Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s top overseas markets were two English-speaking territories, the United Kingdom/Ireland ($15.1 million) and Australia ($6.5 million). Next in line was Germany ($4.5 million).
88 Minutes: Panned Al Pacino thriller bombs
At no. 4 this past weekend (also trailing last weekend’s top title, Prom Night, with $8.7 million), Sony Pictures’ critically lambasted crime thriller 88 Minutes opened with a mere $7 million from 2,168 sites.
Veteran Best Actor Oscar winner Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman, 1992) stars as a forensic psychiatrist who, as per a phone call, has 88 minutes to live. Jon Avnet directed this commercial dud also featuring Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, William Forsythe, Deborah Kara Unger, Amy Brenneman, and Ben McKenzie.
Sony Pictures shelled out a reported $6 million for the North American rights to this $30 million production, which was actually shot in 2005. Pacino himself is supposed to have been paid $9 million for his time.
All-around box office dud
Update: The Jon Avnet-Al Pacino crime thriller 88 Minutes ultimately collected a meager $17.2 million domestically – likely not enough for Sony to have recouped its investment at the box office – and an even more dismal $15.4 million (possibly incomplete) internationally. Worldwide total: A disastrous $32.6 million.
88 Minutes’ top international markets were Spain ($3.9 million), Mexico ($2.8 million), and France ($2.4 million).
“The Forbidden Kingdom Box Office: Jackie Chan & Jet Li” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “The Forbidden Kingdom Box Office: Jackie Chan & Jet Li U.S./China Wuxia Underwhelms” 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 The Forbidden Kingdom, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 88 Minutes, 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.
Michael Angarano and Jackie Chan The Forbidden Kingdom movie image: Lionsgate Films | The Weinstein Company.
Al Pacino and Alicia Witt 88 Minutes movie image: Sony Pictures.
“The Forbidden Kingdom Box Office: Jackie Chan & Jet Li U.S./China Wuxia Underwhelms” last updated in October 2022.