What Made 'The Wolverine' Such a Disappointment?

Connor Simpson
July 28, 2013
What Made 'The Wolverine' Such a Disappointment?

Welcome to the Box Office Report, where we're betting some Fox executive is telling Hugh Jackman that he's "not mad at him, just disappointed," right this very second. 

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1. The Wolverine (Fox): $55 million in 3,924 theaters

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So, oof. Let's get the oof out of the way quickly. Hugh Jackman returning to the role that made him famous was supposed to draw a lot more money than $55 million. It's his fifth time in the role (not counting his cameo in First Class) and the expectations were closer to the $70 million range, after X-Men Origins earned $89 million in its opening weekend. But a number of thing contributed to this disappointment. The first Wolverine movie was terrible: Origins received a 38 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The hype around this Wolverine project was that it was better than the last one -- Darren Aronofsky was originally attached to direct -- except reviews said it was only a marginal improvement.

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But executives and analysts are pointing to simple audience fatigue to explain away the numbers. "There have been times before when audience fatigue from the summer sets in," a Fox executive told Nikki Finke. Buzzfeed's Adam Vary says it's not the heat that's tiring people out, it's the super heroes: "Granted, most non-superhero movies would be thrilled with an opening weekend that good," he writes. "But nonetheless, it plays into the ongoing narrative that Hollywood’s dependency on mega-budgeted films based on Comic-Con-friendly source material is starting to go bad."

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The last two summers have brought an onslaught of super hero movies that have practically waged a civil war at the box office, and audiences are realizing they're not obligated to see every single one. And when budgets are rising each year, the lower turnouts should scare film executives to maybe think twice when authorizing another $150 million dud. 

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2. The Conjuring (Warner Bros.): $22.1 million in 3,022 theaters [Week 2]

Does this mean we're not going to get the requisite end-of-summer horror movie that comes every year? If they start the summer blockbuster season early, does it end early too? 

3. Despicable Me 2 (Universal): $16 million in 3,476 theaters [Week 4]

Having trouble believing there are still kids left who haven't seen this movie.

4. Turbo (Fox): $13.3 million in 3,809 theaters [Week 2]

The snail racer continues to profit from kids who already saw Despicable Me 2 but didn't want to go to the park this week. 

5. Grown Ups 2 (Sony): $11.5 million in 3,258 theaters [Week 3]

I've ragged on this movie for the last two weeks not because I'm just another snarky blogger who hates Adam Sandler because it's cool. His work on Saturday Night Live and those early Happy Madison movies dominated and informed a huge part of my childhood. But Sandler's just been so lazy over the last few years that it boggles me when people continue to show up for these movies. He's been coasting on goodwill from that small renaissance at the beginning of the 2000s where he tried to show real emotion for too long. And this is coming from someone who actually liked Funny People! (It was flawed, sure, but the sum of its parts worked out for me.) Audiences know Sandler can be better both comedically and dramatically, and why he continues to get away with mailing it in is beyond me.