January is historically known as a dumping ground for Hollywood, a month where studios often release films that they have no faith in, believe are downright bad or simply don’t know what to do with. But every once in a while a January movie will buck that trend, and prove to be a critical darling, a commercial success, or both. Underwater will not be one of those movies. The Kristen Stewart-led film is already sinking at the box office with a weak opening.
Underwater opened in theaters on Friday but it got an early start with Thursday night previews. And while the wide expansion of 1917 set off with a strong $3.25 million in previews, Underwater looked to be anything but seaworthy, making only $500,000 opening night according to Variety. Underwater doesn’t like it will get above water this weekend either because the sci-fi horror film from director William Eubank is expected to take in less than $10 million in its first three days.
A $10 million opening weekend in January might not be too shabby for a low-budget horror film. But Underwater is not a low-budget horror film. If you think being stranded at the bottom of the ocean, taking on water and surrounded by nightmare creatures sounds like a disaster, try making less than $10 million opening weekend on a $50 million budget.
That’s right, Underwater carries a $50 million price tag, and while that money may have been well spent on screen creating a subterranean world, it doesn’t look like that investment will pay off at the box office. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of reason to be optimistic that Underwater can overperform these meager expectations opening weekend or have decent enough legs to make some money long term, at least domestically.
Underwater’s critical notices have been very mixed (it currently sits at 52% on Rotten Tomatoes), with many reviews dinging the film for being too derivative of its influences like Alien and having a weak plot. Still, it’s a shame because it doesn’t sound like it’s horrible, and in fact CinemaBlend’s own Braden Roberts found its strengths outweighed its weaknesses and gave it 3.5 stars out of 5.
Audience reaction is not particularly encouraging, though. Underwater has a C CinemaScore, which, while being better than The Grudge’s atrocious F, is not exactly indicative of the potential for strong word of mouth.
So Underwater will likely join the ship graveyard of Fox bombs following 21st Century Fox’s purchase by Disney last year. Stuber and Dark Phoenix both disappointed, but if nothing else Ford v Ferrari did well and was also great, maybe there’s a correlation there. It’s also shaping up to be the second flop in a row for Kristen Stewart following Charlie’s Angels, which also debuted to less than $10 million.
Underwater may have started sinking as soon as it left port, but some of this weekend’s other releases are looking to have much smoother sailing. 1917 expands to wide release following its Christmas debut and should best Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with a $25 million opening. Behind that Like a Boss and Just Mercy are expected to earn $11 million and $10 million opening weekend respectively.
Underwater is now playing. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see what other movies you can look forward to this year.
Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.
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