Between Straight Outta Compton and Jurassic World — just to name a couple — Universal has utterly decimated competing studios over the last few months, at the box office. However, not all of their projects have performed quite that well. If you did not see Jem and the Holograms in theaters sometime in the last two weeks, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
Jem has utterly floundered since its opening weekend two weeks ago, and was one of the worst performing movies in what subsequently became one of the worst box office weekends since the 1980s. Now it looks as though you won’t get that chance to see the film in theaters, if you haven’t already.
Universal has pulled Jem and the Holograms from theaters after only two weeks. In terms of financial performance, the film has gone on to become an unequivocal failure — grossing a measly $1.37 million in its opening weekend, and $2.1 million during its short time in theaters. Against a $5 million budget, Jem does not seem like a colossal failure at first, but it’s worth noting that despite playing on 2,413 screens, Jem opened to only roughly $545 per theater.
“This is unprecedented, and shows just how badly this film flopped. Not only is it the lowest-grossing debut for a studio film this year, but it’s the worst all-time — by a considerable margin — for any film released in 2,000-plus theaters.”
This news comes on the heels of Universal having also pulled Steve Jobs from thousands of theaters, after it too failed to perform well at the box office. Steve Jobs‘ weak turnout now looks all the better, by comparison.
An adaptation of a popular cartoon from the 1980s, Jem had the opportunity to capitalize on nostalgia much in the same way that G.I. Joe or Transformers have done so successfully. Perhaps its core premise does not appeal to as wide an audience as Iron Man or Batman, but the series still firmly has a place in the hearts of members of Generation X. However, the film guts the source material of its “rockstar superhero” premise to instead focus on a very conventional drama about teenage musicians gunning for a shot at fame.
The utter failure of Jem and the Holograms shines a light on how Hollywood studios should approach beloved properties. For starters, the live-action version of Jem deviated from the source material in such a way that put off longtime Jem fans well before the film hit theaters. Similarly, the movie was developed on the cheap (and judging by the negative critical response, it shows), while the changes that resulted during the adaptation process were derided for being very calculated – as opposed to, creative or well-thought out.
Perhaps Jem and the Holograms would’ve failed to hit it big at the box office, no matter what. However, in this case, it feels like that was one modern retelling (appealing to nostalgia) that wasn’t given a fair shot at success, from the get-go.