The box office flop fest

Halloween releases ‘Our Brand is Crisis’ and ‘Burnt’ account for year’s worst ticket sales

Reuters November 02, 2015
Actor Sandra Bullock poses at the premiere of ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’ in Hollywood, California. PHOTO: REUTERS


Illustrating the limits of star power, Our Brand is Crisis and Burnt were both roundly rejected by audiences, despite the presence of actors Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper. Our Brand is Crisis, a political satire about a spin-doctor navigating a Latin American presidential election is the worst wide-release opening of Bullock’s career, sliding in below 1996’s Two If by Sea with $4.7 million. It debuted to a dreadful $3.4 million across 2,202 locations.

“We’re proud of the movie. We had higher expectations and we’re obviously disappointed,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros Entertainment executive vice president. Not that Cooper fared much better playing a down-and-out chef trying to score a comeback. Burnt made a meagre $5 million bowing across 2,900 theatres.

The Weinstein Company distributed the critically-scorched dramedy. It cost roughly $20 million to make and was directed by John Wells. “It’s a small film and we didn’t spend a tonne of money on it, but we were obviously hoping for more,” said Erik Lomis, the Weinstein Company’s distribution chief. “We love Bradley and he worked so hard on it with John Wells. It’s a passion project that hit a tough weekend.”

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It wasn’t just star power at play. Both films debuted on Halloween weekend that fell at a particularly rough time on the calendar. The holiday happened to take place on Saturday, traditionally the busiest day for movie-going, so studios were bracing for a weekend that offered up more trick than treat. Overall, ticket sales fell below $75 million, the worst results of the year.

The weakness of Our Brand is Crisis and Burnt enabled a group of holdovers to maintain their grip on the top spots at the box office. The Martian captured first place with $11.4 million. Second and third positions went to Sony’s Goosebumps and Dreamworks’ Bridge of Spies with $9.8 million and $8.1 million, respectively. Goosebumps has made roughly $57 million in three weeks, while Bridge of Spies has been one of the only adult dramas to connect, earning $45.2 million over the same period.

It was also a bad weekend for distribution experiments. Paramount’s Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse was brutalised when it kicked off to roughly $1.7 million across 1,509 locations. Its failure comes on the heels of last weekend’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. Scouts Guide cost roughly $15 million to produce. In its second weekend, the Paranormal Activity sequel fell 58 per cent to $3.4 million, bringing its total to $13.6 million.

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The Warner Bros studio is hoping that next year, which offers up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, can help the studio rebound. 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2015.

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