When Chris Hemsworth was chosen by Marvel as the Thor of their Cinematic Universe, he was a relatively unknown actor. Since then, however, he has become as known a name as any of Marvel’s other leading men. Numerous studios have tapped Hemsworth to lead their movies, with hopes that the Marvel magic will rub off and his name will help draw in an audience. Unfortunately, this weekend’s The Huntsman: Winter’s War has been yet another example that this idea simply isn’t working. Is Chris Hemsworth not leading man material?
While the final numbers have not been confirmed, the estimate is that The Huntsman: Winter’s War brought in a paltry $20 million at the box office this past weekend. While that was good enough for second place, it was never in contention for first place as The Jungle Book’s second weekend still brought in three times that. With a production budget estimated at $115 million, this was not the opening weekend that the studio was looking for. The original Snow White and the Huntsman did more than double that in its opening weekend. And therein lies the problem, as Snow White, which was released a mere month after the first Avengers movie, is Hemsworth’s most successful non-Marvel film to date. From there, it’s all downhill.
The Chris Hemsworth led remake of Red Dawn was filmed before anybody knew the actor’s name, but releasing it after the fact didn’t help. Nobody saw it. The film’s utterly dated topic led to it not even being released overseas but not enough people saw it in the U.S. for it to even make it’s money back. The actor’s next turn, in Ron Howard’s Rush, was critically praised, but commercially, it just didn’t draw. 2015 was something of a rollercoaster for Hemsworth. While he had Avengers: Age of Ultron in the middle to make the year worthwhile, he opened the year with the hacker action flick Blackhat which qualifies as his biggest bomb to date, then he finished his year with the seafaring adventure In The Heart of the Sea which also failed to make its money back.
In the modern global box office, seeing a movie fail to make back its production budget is actually rare. Movies get released everywhere and with literally billions of people being marketed to, it doesn’t take much for enough people to make a movie at least break even. Even The Huntsman: Winter’s War will likely break even, thanks to the international box office. This makes the fact that Chris Hemsworth had two movies in the same calendar year fail to do so remarkable.
So why don’t Chris Hemsworth’s non-Marvel movies make money? It is a possibility that Chris Hemsworth just isn’t that kind of leading man. The movie going public is fickle, and in recent years, a number of different leading man have been trotted out to take their shot. Remember when Sam Worthington was the next big thing? That didn’t really take, either. We’ll likely see him in the Avatar sequels, if we ever actually see those, but that’s about it. There’s a reason that Tom Cruise is still making Mission: Impossible movies, and it’s not because he just loves doing stunts. If there was somebody else that audiences wanted to see, then they’d be the ones making those movies. In this situation, Hemsworth is a symptom, he’s not the problem. He may not be the new leading man that fans want to see, but he’s hardly alone in that.
Also, there’s the possibility it’s the dreaded ‘T’ word. By jumping on the scene with a major franchise, as part of the major franchise, Chris Hemsworth may be typecast. Maybe audiences don’t see him as anybody other than Thor. It would hardly be the first time that’s happened. Christopher Reeve made plenty of non-Superman films, but fans didn’t flock to see them. Mark Hamill had to go into voice acting to find new success, as fans weren’t interested in seeing him unless he was playing Luke Skywalker. Maybe Chris Hemsworth’s problem is that he’s too good at playing Thor.
Whatever the reason that Chris Hemsworth hasn’t seen success, we’re not quite ready to write him off just yet. Maybe he’s still looking for the right project. And we don't mean Thor: Ragnarok. What do you think? Does Chris Hemsworth draw you to the movies? If not, why not?