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Why Didn’t Anyone Go See Missing Link?

Missing Link

There’s all this talk about Hellboy under-performing in its opening weekend — the hellish, going up in flames jokes write themselves — taking third place below both Shazam! and Little. But Missing Link would’ve been happy with such a finish. Instead, it opened in 9th place, even after playing on more screens than fellow newcomers Hellboy, Little, and After.

Missing Link only made $5.8 million in its opening weekend at the domestic box office. That’s the lowest opening yet for Laika. The stop-motion animated adventure — starring the voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, and Zoe Saldana — had been tracking for $8 million-$12 million, per THR. That’s still not a wow, but this is worse.

So what happened?

Sometimes you can look to reviews. But not this time. Hellboy, After, and Little were all trounced by critics, with 15%, 13%, and 49% respective Rotten Tomatoes scores. Missing Link, on the other hand, has an 89% RT score with a still positive 74% audience score. Missing Link also earned a B+ CinemaScore from moviegoers polled opening night. That’s the same score as Little, and higher than After‘s B and Hellboy‘s C.

So it wasn’t bad reviews, which was probably a factor in turning people away from Hellboy. With Missing Link, I’d wager lack of publicity was a factor. I may not have been the target audience, but I saw very few ads for this movie. Then again, I could say the same for the romantic drama After, which opened above Missing Link with $6.2 million from 2,138 screens. That’s a thousand fewer screens than Missing Link, which opened in 3,413 theaters.

Missing Link actually opened in about a hundred more theaters than Hellboy, and nearly a thousand more than Little. It had fewer than Shazam! but the per-screen average for Missing Link was only $1,712, vs. $5,838 for Shazam! this week, $5,811 for second place Little, and $3,638 for Hellboy.

Expect a lot of chatter about the Hellboy reboot and what that could mean, but I’m wondering what this could mean for the studio behind Oscar-nominated films Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and Kubo and the Two Strings. Maybe the international box office will help.

None of the Laika films have been blockbusters, but worldwide Coraline made $124.6 million in 2009, with $75M of that from the domestic box office. Subsequent films made a bit less money, per Box Office Mojo. Kubo and the Two Strings has the lowest total so far with $69.9 worldwide — $48M from domestic — after its opening in 2016. Missing Link looks to be on track to end with less.

Missing Link could be one of those films that picks up as it goes along, but with Avengers: Endgame coming April 26, there isn’t much time to build momentum. That thing is going to take over all screens. As we wait to see what happens from here, be sure to come back to CinemaBlend to check out our weekend box office roundup, and bookmark our 2019 movie schedule to keep up with everything headed to theaters this year.

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