'TRON: Legacy' Disappointing Top + 'How Do You Know' One of Century's Biggest Bombs

TRON: Legacy Garrett Hedlund Beau Garrett. Tough time to recover megabudgetTRON: Legacy with Garrett Hedlund and Beau Garrett: TRON sequel of sorts topped the North American box office, but after a slow global start it'll have a tough time recovering its mega budget. One of the film's stars, Jeff Bridges, also toplined the 1982 original – which also happened to be a costly box office disappointment.

'TRON: Legacy' tops U.S. & Canada box office chart – but a domestic financial disappointment all the same

Dec. 19 update: Directed by feature-film newcomer Joseph Kosinski, and starring Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, and Jeff Bridges, Disney's special-effects-laden 3D sci-fi adventure TRON: Legacy was the no. 1 movie at the North American box office this weekend (Dec. 17–19), taking in $43.6 million, including $3.6 million from Thursday midnight screenings, according to studio estimates.

Sounds good for a sequel of sorts to a 28-year-old movie? Well, as found at Boxofficemojo.com, TRON: Legacy's average at 3,451 locations was a just okay $12,634 per site – especially “just” okay when considering 3D/IMAX surcharges and Disney's multimillion-dollar marketing campaign.

For comparison's sake:

  • Back in early March, when ticket prices were actually cheaper than they are now, Tim Burton's (converted to) 3D feature Alice in Wonderland collected $116.1 million at 3,728 sites on its first weekend out. Alice in Wonderland's per-theater average was $31,143.
  • At 4,380 locations in May, the Jon Favreau-Robert Downey Jr. collaboration Iron Man 2 grossed $128.12 million, averaging $29,252 per site despite the lack of 3D surcharges.
  • Even after blowing off steam on its Wednesday opening, David Slade's The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, earned $64.83 million on its first weekend out in late June – without the help of either 3D or those box-office-fattening advance midnight screenings. Eclipse's per-theater average was $14,510.

'TRON: Legacy' unlikely to recover production budget in domestic market + disappointing overseas debut

Depending on the source, TRON: Legacy cost between $170-200 million. Without a major surge on the Christmas and New Year's Day weekends, Kosinski's sci-fi adventure will find it impossible to recoup its production budget at the U.S. and Canada box office. Remember, on average studios only keep about 50–55 percent of their films' domestic take.

Also worth noting is that – even after taking out the $3.6 million earned from midnight screenings – TRON: Legacy was up less than 5 percent on Saturday. Every other movie on the chart posted double-digit increases in relation to Friday; several were up more than 40 percent.

The question is: this holiday season and throughout January 2011, will TRON: Legacy manage to lure an audience beyond its hardcore sci-fi/adventure fanboys (or fanmen, as the case may be)?

Internationally, TRON: Legacy has pulled in a disappointing $23 million in 26 territories, among them major markets such as the United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Spain, and Argentina.

'TRON: Legacy' cast

TRON: Legacy is a sequel to Steven Lisberger's 1982 sci-fier TRON, which also starred this year's Best Actor Academy Award winner, Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart).

Besides Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, and Olivia Wilde, the TRON: Legacy cast includes James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen, and another 1982 TRON veteran, Bruce Boxleitner.

Dec. 22 update: TRON: Legacy continued to lead the North American box office on both Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 20–21, pulling in, respectively, $6 million and $6.35 million. Kosinski's sci-fi adventure has already passed the $50 million mark domestically.

See also: Veteran Jeff Bridges (The Last Picture Show, Starman) has two movies among Top Five.

How Do You Know Reese Witherspoon. James L. Brooks comedy box office cataclysmHow Do You Know with Reese Witherspoon: James L. Brooks comedy also featuring Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson is a box office cataclysm-in-the-making. Reportedly produced for $120 million – not including marketing and distribution expenses – How Do You Know earned less than $8 million at the domestic box office on its opening weekend. Nicholson's three Oscars, by the way, were for the following: Best Actor for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and As Good As It Gets (1997); Best Supporting Actor for Terms of Endearment (1983). The last two titles were also directed by Brooks.

'How Do You Know' one of the biggest box office bombs this century

Opening in eighth place this weekend, James L. Brooks' comedy How Do You Know, starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson, collected $7.6 million at 2,483 locations. How Do You Know's average per site was a mere $3,061.

A Sony Pictures release, Brooks' comedy cost a reported $120 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses. And that's how How Do You Know, has become one of the year's – or rather, the century's – major box office disasters.

It's nearly impossible to compare How Do You Know to the performances of Brooks' early hits Terms of Endearment (1983) and Broadcast News (1987) because distribution patterns were different in those days and movie theaters were different (generally much bigger, i.e., more tickets could be sold per theater) back then as well.

But How Do You Know is performing even worse than Brooks' previous box office disappointment, Spanglish (2004), which starred Adam Sandler, Paz Vega, and Téa Leoni, and opened with $8.81 million at 2,438 sites. Spanglish cumed at $42.72 million in the U.S. and Canada; as found at Box Office Mojo, its international take was an abysmal $12.31 million. International prospects for How Do You Know look equally dim.

Reese Witherspoon box office: Little luck since 'Walk the Line' Oscar win

With the exception of the comedy Four Christmases, which went on to gross $120.14 million in North America, Reese Witherspoon hasn't had much luck since winning the Best Actress Oscar for Walk the Line back in early 2006.

Rendition (2007) totaled $9.73 million while Penelope (2008) fared only marginally better (or less terribly), raking in $10.01 million. The international grosses of both movies were just as disastrous: $17.3 million for Rendition and $11.14 million (likely incomplete, but including most major markets) for Penelope.

Perhaps Witherspoon's box office downturn will end when Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants, which co-stars The Twilight Saga idol Robert Pattinson and Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, 2009) opens next April.

Yogi Bear + Boo Boo Dan Aykroyd + Justin Timberlake. Critically panned box office disappointmentYogi Bear (Dan Aykroyd) and Boo Boo (Justin Timberlake) in the 3D animated/live action feature Yogi Bear: Critically panned release has turned out to be a box office disappointment. The plot of Eric Brevig's movie revolves around municipal bankruptcy, government profligacy, political corruption, environmental awareness, and picnic-basket misappropriation. Yogi Bear's live action cast includes Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh, and T.J. Miller.

'Yogi Bear' flops while 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader' bombs in North America but fares well overseas

Trailing TRON: Legacy, Eric Brevig's poorly received Warner Bros.-distributed Yogi Bear, a live action/animation mix and the weekend's other 3D entry, grossed a modest $16.7 million at 3,515 North American sites, according to studio estimates.

Yogi Bear's per-theater average, especially for an $80 million-budgeted 3D release, was a downright mediocre $4,752. The silver lining is that, even though it has been dismissed by critics, the kiddie flick will likely pick up steam throughout the holiday season.

Yogi Bear features the voices of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, and the presence of Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh, and T.J. Miller, among others.

Down two spots at no. 3, Michael Apted's fantasy adventure The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader drew in $12.4 million (down 48 percent). Total to date: $42.76 million. Cost: $155 million.

The good news: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has taken in $123.65 million overseas.

Boxing box office match: 'The Fighter' vs. 'Million Dollar Baby'

David O. Russell's well-received The Fighter, which stars potential Oscar contenders Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo, pulled in $12.2 million at no. 4 after expanding to 2,503 locations. The Fighter's per-theater average was a good but hardly phenomenal $4,874. Total to date: $12.63 million. Cost: $25 million.

For comparison's sake: after expanding to 2,010 locations back in late Jan. 2005, when, incidentally, movie ticket prices were quite a bit cheaper, Clint Eastwood's boxing drama Million Dollar Baby averaged $6,102 per-theater thanks to its strong Oscar buzz.

The eventual Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Hilary Swank), and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman), Million Dollar Baby went on to earn more the $100 million in the U.S. and Canada and $116 million internationally.

At this stage, it doesn't look like The Fighter will reach that far either in North America or elsewhere.

'The Tourist' down while 'Black Swan' flies following expansion

Down three spots at no. 5, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's widely panned spy caper The Tourist, starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, grossed $8.7 million, down a surprisingly moderate down 47 percent. Total: $30.79 million. Cost: $100 million. Overseas, where it'll likely find more receptive audiences, The Tourist has collected $22.3 million.

Disney's Tangled scored $8.67 million (down 39 percent) at no. 6. Total: $127.81 million. Cost: $260 million. Internationally, Tangled has brought in $97.8 million.

Next in line at no. 7 was Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller Black Swan, which took in $8.3 million after expanding to 959 theaters.

Black Swan's per-theater average was a solid $8,655. Strong awards season buzz, for the film itself and especially for star Natalie Portman, should keep Black Swan afloat in the foreseeable future. Total: $15.7 million. Cost: $13 million.

Unstoppable 'Harry Potter' still among Top Twelve

Rounding out this weekend's Top Twelve box office movies were:

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 with $4.84 million (down 43 percent).
    Total: $265.54 million. Cost: approximately $200 million.
    Cast: Daniel Radcliffe. Ralph Fiennes. Emma Watson. Rupert Grint.
  • Unstoppable with $1.8 million (down 51 percent).
    Total: $77.34 million. Cost: $100 million.
    Cast: Chris Pine. Denzel Washington.
  • Burlesque with $1.4 million (down 56 percent).
    Total: $35.51 million. Cost: $55 million.
    Cast: Cher. Christina Aguilera. Eric Dane. Cam Gigandet. Julianne Hough.
  • Due Date with $1.31 million (down 49 percent).
    Total: $97.37 million. Cost: $65 million.
    Cast: Robert Downey Jr. Zach Galifianakis.

Gone from the Top Twelve were:

Among the Top Twelve movies, TRON: Legacy had the highest per-theater average, $12,634. Burlesque had the lowest, $927.

Also among the Top Twelve (barring new entries TRON: Legacy, Yogi Bear, and How Do You Know, and the expanded The Fighter and Black Swan): Burlesque posted the highest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, down 56 percent. Tangled posted the lowest, down 39 percent.

'The Social Network' nears $200 million worldwide

Now playing at 228 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, awards season favorite The Social Network, the movie to beat at the 2011 Oscars, collected an estimated $300,000 this weekend.

After 12 weekends, David Fincher's drama about the creation of Facebook has grossed $91.85 million. International gross: $97.68 million. Worldwide total: $189.53 million. Cost: $50 million.

The Social Network features Jesse Eisenberg as controversial Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara, Max Minghella, and Joseph Mazzello.

Rabbit Hole Nicole Kidman John Cameron Mitchell. Parental grief drama modest startRabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman and director John Cameron Mitchell: Psychological drama about parental grief has a modest start at the domestic box office. Rabbit Hole is set universes away from Mitchell's previous two features, the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the sexually explicit comedy Shortbus. In the filmmaker's latest, likely Best Actress Academy Award nominee Nicole Kidman plays the bereaved mother of a four-year-old boy killed in a car accident. Aaron Eckhart is her husband; two-time Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Dianne Wiest is her mother. David Lindsay-Abaire adapted his own 2005 play.

'Rabbit Hole' opens modestly while 'Casino Jack' disappoints

Opening this weekend in limited release were the Nicole Kidman-Aaron Eckhart drama Rabbit Hole, directed by John Cameron Mitchell, and the Kevin Spacey comedy Casino Jack, directed by George Hickenlooper.

Rabbit Hole brought in $55,000 at five theaters, averaging $11,000 per location. That certainly isn't great, but considering the film's subject matter – parents grieve the death of their four-year-old child – it isn't bad, either. Also in the cast: two-time Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Dianne Wiest (Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986; Bullets Over Broadway, 1994) as Nicole Kidman's mother.

Casino Jack's opening was more problematic. It grossed only $35,000 at seven sites, or $5,000 per theater. Chances are Casino Jack will have trouble reaching $500,000 at the end of its North American run.

I Love You Phillip Morris, currently at 49 theaters, will probably not go much wider. Following a good if unspectacular debut, the Jim Carrey-Ewan McGregor comedy-drama mix about two gay con men earned $146,000, averaging a meager $2,980 per site. Total after three weekends: $521,000.

TRON: Legacy Jeff Bridges starred in original 1982 box office disappointmentTRON: Legacy with Jeff Bridges. This year's Best Actor Oscar winner for Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart and one of the leads in TRON: Legacy, veteran Jeff Bridges starred in Steven Lisberger's 1982 TRON. In the original, Bridges plays Kevin Flynn, a former computer programmer and game developer for the ENCOM corporation, eventually finding himself inside the company's mainframe cyberspace. He reprises the role in TRON: Legacy, the missing father of ENCOM shareholder Samuel (Garrett Hedlund). “TRON” refers to one of ENCOM's key security programs, curiously, played by the human Bruce Boxleitner.

'TRON: Legacy' tops box office chart, but unlikely to become domestic blockbuster

Dec. 18 update: Starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, and Olivia Wilde, the Joseph Kosinski-directed Disney release TRON: Legacy opened at the top of the U.S. and Canada box office chart on Friday, Dec. 17.

Even so, $18 million at 3,451 theaters doesn't quite translate into blockbusting grosses, especially considering IMAX/3D surcharges and a multimillionaire marketing campaign. Not to mention the fact that the Friday figure includes $3.6 million from Thursday midnight screenings.

Considering its reported $170–200 million production budget – not including distribution and marketing expenses – TRON: Legacy should better overperform during Christmas and New Year. Additionally, the sci-fi/adventure had better bring in lots of foreign currency as well.

TRON: Legacy's Friday average (including midnight shows) was a relatively modest $5,216.

The special-effects-laden 3D flick, a sequel to the 1982 box office disappointment TRON, is expected to take in $45–50 million over the weekend.

'Yogi Bear' flops & 'How Do You Know' bombs

Another 3D release, the Warner Bros.-distributed animated feature Yogi Bear, collected an estimated $4.61 million at 3,515 sites on Friday. Yogi Bear's per-theater average, especially for a 3D movie, was a mediocre $1,312.

Now in wide release, David O. Russell's The Fighter pulled in $3.8 million at 2,503 locations. For the weekend, The Fighter is expected to collect $11.8 million – or a just okay $4,714 per site.

For comparison's sake: after expanding to 959 theaters, Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is expected to gross $9 million by Sunday night. If so, its per theater average will be $9,384. (Admittedly, all things being equal, the fewer the number of locations the higher the per-theater average – but the discrepancy here is quite marked.)

And finally, James L. Brooks' $120 million-budgeted comedy How Do You Know, starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson, promises to become one of the century's biggest box office bombs.


Beau Garrett and Garrett Hedlund TRON: Legacy image: Douglas Curran / Disney Enterprises.

Reese Witherspoon How Do You Know image: David James / Columbia Pictures.

John Cameron Mitchell and Nicole Kidman Rabbit Hole image: JoJo Whilden / Lionsgate.

Yogi Bear and Boo Boo Yogi Bear image: Warner Bros.

Jeff Bridges TRON: Legacy image: Douglas Curran / Disney Enterprises.

TRON: Legacy Disappointing Top + How Do You Know One of Century's Biggest Bombs” last updated in May 2018.

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1 Comment to 'TRON: Legacy' Disappointing Top + 'How Do You Know' One of Century's Biggest Bombs

  1. garrett forever

    Garrett Hedlund looks SOooooooooooooooo hot in his Tron outfit. Tight and bright.