Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is not a disaster. We won’t look back on it as an epic flop, and it won’t change the way studios do business. It brought in a vaguely respectable fifteen million dollars or so during its opening weekend, and if it’s able to perform strong enough in foreign markets, it could even eventually turn a profit. But let’s just call a Clancy a Clancy here. Those numbers have to be considered a very big disappointment for Paramount, a studio that spared no expense trying to market the film to an audience, any audience really.
Ready for some pretty sobering numbers? More than 1/3rd of Jack Ryan’s ticket sales came from people over fifty. Even worse, only 15% of tickets were purchased by under-twenty-fives. So, in other words, those who showed up were almost exclusively fans of The Hunt For Red October and other prior Jack Ryan adventures, and the drive to bring in new blood was almost a complete failure.
No doubt Paramount executives will spend the next few months desperately trying to spin the disappointment and find justifications for why the movie never ignited, but at least from my perspective, it seems pretty obvious what the hell happened. If the studio would have just looked back on many of the very recent attempts to jump start franchises, they would have noticed some alarming similarities between those disappointments and their own film.
Here are 5 lessons Jack Ryan producers didn’t bother learning from other failed franchises…
Don’t Use A Generic Title, Courtesy Of John CarterI suspect producers thought they were jazzing their entry up by slapping Shadow Recruit onto the end, but I still don’t even have any idea what that means. Seriously, what is a Shadow Recruit? Is it someone who is recruited under the shadiest of circumstances? Is it someone who is supposed to train by himself and out of eyesight of the other recruits? It doesn’t make any sense, and even worse, Jack Ryan is not a household name. Sorry, Paramount. Sorry, Tom Clancy. That name doesn’t mean anything, except to the hardcore fans who were going to turn out anyway. James Bond, yes. Sherlock Holmes, yes. These names have entered the popular culture. Jack Ryan has not.
Let’s just fire out some fake titles that would have brought more people into the theater. Ready? Pattern Recognition. CIA Secret Weapon, The Quotient Of All Fears, Moscow’s Most Wanted, Soviet Hostilities and Financial Foul Play. Okay, maybe some of those aren’t actually any better, but the point is Paramount should have learned from John Carter that going woefully generic is a bad play. A way higher percentage of people than we’d like to talk about really do factor in the title when it comes to choosing what film to say, and this one hurt way more than it helped.