Alt Film Guide
Classic movies. Gay movies. International cinema. Socially conscious & political cinema.
Home Movie NewsBox Office The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Box Office: Spielbergian Fantasy Minus the Blockbuster Grosses

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Box Office: Spielbergian Fantasy Minus the Blockbuster Grosses

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Alex EtelThe Water Horse: Legend of the Deep with Alex Etel: Scottish-set fantasy was clearly inspired by Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (along with decades-old “boy/girl and their non-human companion” tales like Lassie Come Home, Mighty Joe Young, and Old Yeller).
  • The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep box office: Jay Russell’s Spielbergian fantasy drama has failed to generate Spielbergian grosses despite its impressive special effects, stunning Scottish locations, generally capable cast, and positive reviews.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep box office: Spielberg-like fantasy drama fails to generate Spielberg-like revenues

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Set in Scotland – of Loch Ness fame – during World War II, Jay Russell’s boy-and-his-underwater-monster fantasy drama The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (a.k.a. The Water Horse) has grossed a mere $41 million at the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office, as per (updated final) figures found at

That’s particularly disappointing for a well-regarded, special-effects-laden production reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s 1982 classic E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – but with the “alien” creature coming from below instead of from above.

Internationally, The Water Horse fared only slightly better: $63 million, for a worldwide total of $104 million – not quite enough for it to break even at the box office alone. Its top territories were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($9.5 million), France ($6.8 million), Australia ($5.3 million), and Mexico ($4.2 million).

It’s all relative

For comparison’s sake: Though not the exact same sort of story, Ron Underwood’s 1998 Mighty Joe Young remake – featuring Bill Paxton, Charlize Theron, and her giant gorilla – scored $50.6 million domestically. (International figures are unavailable.)

In relative terms, even while taking inflation into account, that was a far worse commercial performance than that of The Water Horse. After all, Mighty Joe Young cost a hefty $90 million vs. The Water Horse’s $40 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses).

The Water Horse features Alex Etel as the boy, Ben Chaplin, David Morrissey, Brian Cox, and two-time Best Actress Academy Award nominee Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves, 1996; Hilary and Jackie, 1998) as the boy’s concerned (later astonished) mother.

An aside: Also in late 2007, another (admittedly, radically different) fantasy featuring a human child and her oversized nonhuman companion underperformed in the domestic market: Chris Weitz’s mega-budget The Golden Compass.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Box Office” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Box Office: Spielbergian Fantasy Minus the Blockbuster Grosses” 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,, etc.).

Comments about The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep 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.

Alex Etel The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep movie image: Sony Pictures.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Box Office: Spielbergian Fantasy Minus the Blockbuster Grosses” last updated in October 2022.

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.

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