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Most of the holiday box office stories have focused on Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns or Bumblebee. That makes sense given all three films are part of popular franchises and had interesting openings for different reasons, but all that analysis has largely obscured Welcome To Marwen and its less than ideal first weekend. In short: its future prospects are not promising, and it looks like it could lose upwards of $50M.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film cost somewhere between $40M and $50M to make. If you've watched television recently, you're also probably aware it had a very healthy marketing budget. Unfortunately, the film was hit with mostly bad reviews, and the word of mouth wasn't a whole lot better. That underwhelming buzz was only able to generate $2.4M for the film during its opening three days, which puts it near the bottom for 2018 in terms of lowest grossing opening weekends for a big budget movie, which sucks for a lot of reasons.
It's no secret that Hollywood has largely abandoned making pretty expensive movies. A high percentage of films are now either relatively cheap to produce or very expensive. The middle ground doesn't get nearly as much love as it used to, and part of the reason is because of exactly what happened here. Now, I'm not implying audiences failed Welcome To Marwen. By most accounts, the film has some serious problems, and with a ton of competition, it makes sense that people didn't see it. It's another entry, however, into a larger pattern, which is if you make a quirky movie that goes for something different, you really need good reviews to help out. Event films, niche horror movies and children's entertainment might be able to still find some success with negative buzz, but films that could be awards contenders usually do not. As such, they feel like a major gamble. For every Bohemain Rhapsody, there are several Welcome To Marwen's and because of that, those of us who like moderately budgeted movies designed for adults don't get as many films as we'd like.
It's likely Welcome To Marwin will do a bit more business moving forward. It's not expected to be a huge draw overseas, but maybe there's a little money there, plus potentially some money from home video, streaming services, etc. In the end, however, the final result almost certainly won't be pretty, and it'll be one of the low moments, at least financially, for Steve Carell and Robert Zemeckis' career.
In this list paragraph, I guess I should note one more thing too. Right after the box office initially broke, one of my coworkers asked me if I thought this made it more likely Steve Carell would join a reboot of The Office. I have no idea. Steve Carell is a great actor, and it'll take many more poor openings to take away any of his buzz. I can say, with certainty, however, that if an Office reboot were to ever happen, it would generate more buzz and attract more eyeballs than Welcome To Marwen.