NOTE: Box office numbers are as of April 10, 2017
Last month, Saban and Lionsgate rebooted the Power Rangers franchise, and now enough time has passed to realistically determine if the movie was the commercial success the studio needed it to be. Prior to the film’s premiere, it was revealed that the creative team had planned out a saga of six films, so there was a lot of pressure on this new iteration of Power Rangers to perform well at the box office and prove the property was still viable. Positioned towards the end of what was an unusually loaded March, the movie faced off against some stiff competition, but the hope was that 1990s nostalgia and fun genre thrills would make it a reasonable hit with audiences.
Nearly four weeks later, things arguably aren’t looking too good for the mighty morphin’ heroes. Released to mostly mixed reviews (read ours), Power Rangers didn’t have the strongest box office legs as it tried to stand out amongst a crowd of other would-be tentpoles. Now that it’s been playing for a while, we’re going to take a look at the numbers to determine whether or not the film lived up to Lionsgate’s expectations and if they should pursue their original plan for a multi-installment series.
Debuting on March 24, 2017, Power Rangers grossed $40.3 million in its opening weekend, coming in second behind Disney’s juggernaut Beauty and the Beast. Though it couldn’t secure the top spot, Saban’s reboot still got off to a solid start, making slightly more than the initial projections of a $36 million haul. The problems began when the film moved into its second weekend and dropped drastically by 64.8 percent, making $14.2 million. Arrivals from family hit The Boss Baby, as well as Ghost in the Shell (targeting a similar demographic to Power Rangers), proved to be too much to handle, and Power Rangers has since fallen off. To date, its Stateside total is just $75.6 million.
Power Rangers has some rather unfortunate comparisons per Box Office Mojo, including the rare Disney flop Tomorrowland, which finished with $93.4 million back in 2015. Power Rangers is actually trailing the George Clooney vehicle at the same point in its run, which is an ominous sign. If things stay the way they are, the film won’t even reach $100 million domestically, and there’s a very good chance that happens. This weekend sees the release of The Fate of the Furious, which is poised to be one of 2017’s biggest commercial smashes. Power Rangers is already starting to fade from theaters, and by the time Dominic Toretto turns his back on family, the Rangers will be nothing more than a distant memory. Unfortunately for Lionsgate, they aren’t going to see some kind of massive turnaround as interest is fairly low.
The main culprit for these figures is most likely the critical reception, which painted it as an uneven blend of a “grounded” origin story starring troubled teens and the campy excitement of the original show. That certainly limited its overall appeal, making Power Rangers a little more niche than Lionsgate probably hoped. As the box office totals indicate, fans of the brand were up to see a new spin on the mythology, but the film lacked the crossover potential needed to take it to the next level. Some blockbuster projects (like Transformers, for instance) are able to seize the zeitgeist despite their reviews, but it would appear Power Rangers doesn’t fall in that category. If it had received better word-of-mouth, odds are it may have stuck around for a while longer.
Hope From International Markets?
Throughout history, there have been plenty of movies that rebounded from a poor domestic showing and ended up turning a profit thanks to the worldwide figures. However, Power Rangers is going to have an uphill climb in that regard. Its production budget (which does not include marketing costs) is reportedly $100 million – a modest amount when compared to other titles. Going by the old industry rule of thumb, this means the movie needs to gross approximately $200 million globally just to make all of its money back. Anything it earns beyond that point can be considered profit. And this is where things really start to go south for the Rangers.
As of this writing, Power Rangers has brought in only $117.8 million worldwide, meaning it still has $82.2 million to go to reach that aforementioned break even point. Granted, it has some key countries to open in – including China and Japan – but it’s still going to have a struggle. Once again, the Fast & Furious crew will be a thorn in the Rangers’ side, as Fate is projected to make a staggering $400 million globally in its debut. It seems all the attention is going towards the established Hollywood mega franchise, leaving any and all competition in the dust. Depending on how things shake out, Power Rangers could end up with around $200 million, but that still might not be enough to make it a bona fide triumph. Ghost in the Shell did well internationally, but is still estimated to cost Paramount $60 million when it’s all said and done.
Interestingly enough, the book cannot be definitively closed on Power Rangers until the summer, since it premieres in Japan on July 15, 2017. As many people know, the Power Rangers franchise is inherently tied to that nation, since the old TV show primarily incorporated footage from the Japanese series Super Sentai. If the franchise’s fan base in Japan is sizable enough, it could have a strong showing there and inch closer to that profitability mark. However, that’s a lot of pressure to place on a single country. Power Rangers has already pretty much run its course throughout most of the world, and even the saving grace of Chinese moviegoers (the second-largest market) doesn’t seem reliable. Power Rangers opens in China on May 12, one week after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 debuts in the country and gets the summer season off to a rousing start. The odds are stacked against it.
Sadly for Lionsgate, it looks like Power Rangers is going to be considered a box office disappointment. Domestically, the reboot was largely a non-starter, as it fell off following a decent opening. Globally, the film also failed to impress, and business will only continue to decline as more high-profile productions reach theaters. In just a few weeks, the summer movie season begins in ernest, and the crowds will be drawn to the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and others, illustrating the tight bind Power Rangers is in. In all likelihood, it may not even turn a profit.
Where this leaves the studio remains to be seen. Any notions for five sequels reads as overly ambitious now, and Lionsgate would probably be lucky to get just Power Rangers 2 off the ground now. If this is how audiences responded to the origin story, there’s little out there to suggest another go-around would be any different. Slicing the budget for a followup is always a possibility, but as stated earlier, $100 million is already on the cheap side of things for a movie such as this. Ultimately, Lionsgate might be left with no choice other than to lick their wounds and move on. They took a shot with Power Rangers, but it wasn’t what they had hoped.
Source: Box Office Mojo