Several new movies are hitting theaters this weekend with approximately equal expectations at the box office. While the predicted number is fairly good news for a couple of them, it's really bad news for one of them. You see, Ben-Hur cost significantly more to make than either War Dogs or Kubo and the Two Strings, and as such, the meager box office expectations could hit it very hard.
You know the summer movie season is winding down when all three of the weekend's new releases are only expected to make around $12 million for their opening weekend. However, that's exactly what The Wrap is reporting is likely to happen. While the number is tiny in comparison to your standard summer movie fare, it's perfectly adequate for the modestly budgeted War Dogs and Kubo of the Two Strings. Where $12 million is a problem, is where your product budget was somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million. In a summer where even the modest blockbusters have done that much in a weekend, it essentially turns Ben-Hur into a guaranteed money loser right out of the gate.
Paramount is apparently claiming they believe they'll see $20 million this weekend, and even if they end up being right, it doesn't make the overall news much better. It's clear that the hopes for Ben-Hur have never been too high. A movie of its scope being released this late in the summer is a sure sign that the studio knew it wasn't going to perform well. The fact that the review embargo on the film is still in effect, while both War Dogs and Kubo are having reviews freely posted, is also a sign that the studio expects reviews to be bad.
$12 million is an awful opening for something that was obviously intended to be one of the major summer blockbusters when it was first conceived. With reviews not even being released yet, it's not even a question of whether the movie is any good. The issue is that the audience is clearly just not interested in the movie. Movie fans will go see a movie that they want to be good, even if they're not sure it will be. If your movie is only going to make $12 million, it's because nobody really wants to see it.
Are you planning on checking out Ben-Hur this weekend? How about any of the other new releases? Let us know in the comments below.