The Peter Jackson-produced Mortal Engines just opened to #5 on the Dec. 14-16 domestic box office chart with only $7.5 million. Robin Hood made headlines for its $14 million opening, but that was across five days. So it’s apples-to-oranges to just compare those opening numbers.
That said, Robin Hood has currently made $73.5 million worldwide — about $30 million from the domestic North American box office, and $44M from the foreign box office, per Box Office Mojo figures. It just made another $1.2 million at the domestic box office, taking #13 on the chart. But its total gross won’t move much higher from here, since it’s already opened around the world.
The thing about Mortal Engines is that it, too, has already opened in most markets overseas. In many cases, it opened the first week of December.
So far, Mortal Engines has a foreign box office gross of $34.8 million. It just added $7.5 million in its domestic opening for a total of roughly $42.3 million.
Based on this low domestic opening, and the fact that it’s already playing overseas, it doesn’t look like Mortal Engines will even be able to catch up to Robin Hood‘s $73.5 million.
Both Mortal Engines and Robin Hood had reported production budgets of $100 million, but that never covers everything. Deadline estimates that Mortal Engines will lose at least $100 million.
A loss of $105 million would be based on Mortal Engines getting a global gross of $120 million, they reported, which doesn’t seem like a reasonable hope at this point. But it’s possible. Deadline said rival film finance sources suggested the Mortal Engines loss could be closer to $150 million after all ancillaries are factored in.
What went wrong? Well, both Mortal Engines and Robin Hood suffered from bad reviews. That’s not always a death sentence, especially at the international markets. The good news for Mortal Engines is that it not only had a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than Robin Hood, it also currently has a fresh Audience Score of 61%, vs. the 28% from critics. It also has a B- CinemaScore from polled moviegoers. Could be better, could be worse.
Peter Jackson had said he was very excited to make Mortal Engines sequels, based on the books, but this box office opening is a bad sign for that. Still, there’s hope. It’s possible word-of-mouth will help Mortal Engines be The Little Engine That Could. And maybe it will pick up more fans on Digital/Blu-ray.