The newly rebooted Hellboy made his debut to audiences last night and while things are looking good for the big red guy to be the top performer of this weekend's new releases, the early screenings totals certainly didn't blow anybody away, as the film apparently earned about $1.4 million last night.
While making over $1 million over just a couple showings per screen last night is certainly nothing to sneeze at, it's a far cry from the numbers that comic book movies tend to put up. For comparison, last weekend, Shazam! ended up doing a better than expected $5.9 million, or more than four times what Hellboy did last night.
To be fair, Hellboy was never projected to do as well as Shazam! the expectations has been that the movie will likely do about $17 million domestically this weekend and the Thursday night numbers would still put it on track to do about that much. Variety points out that Resident Evil: The Final Chapter did about $1 million on its opening night on the way to a $13.6 million opening weekend, so Hellboy is on track to improve on that. Still, if Shazam! sees a second weekend drop of 50% or less, or even slightly more, it will still win the weekend box office.
Of course, if the numbers do shake out as expected, it will put the new Hellboy movie behind the two previous films in terms of box office. Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy saw an opening weekend of gross of $23 million when it hit in 2004. The follow up, 2008's Hellboy II: The Golden Army, improved on that with $34.5 million.
Clearly, expectations had to have been higher for the reboot. Unless the brand new Hellboy was incredibly inexpensive to produce, it's going to have a hard time making its money back unless the film is a massive hit overseas. Guillermo del Toro tried and failed multiple times to find a studio willing to finance the third film he always wanted to make. The fact that a studio was willing to produce a reboot means somebody thought it was a safer bet than making another film in the existing series.
Hellboy's box office concerns match the film's critical problems. Hellboy currently has a 12% positive rating on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Critics pretty much universally loathe the movie. While I don't think Rotten Tomatoes has quite the power to sway audiences that some give it credit for, it's certainly true that numbers like that don't help the situation any.
Baring surprises, it seems that Hellboy will continue his struggle at the box office. The character may not be as popular as your average marvel or DC hero, but he certainly has big fans that would love to see him succeed. Those fans may need to continue waiting.