Gemini Man is the latest high-profile release of 2019, but how much does it need to earn in order to become a box office success? The latest from director Ang Lee spent years in development hell, going through multiple directors and stars before landing the team of the Oscar-winning Lee and leading man Will Smith. One of the reasons why Gemini Man took so long to come to fruition is its story, which sees an aging hitman hunted by a younger clone of himself. Lee, always one to push the envelope, implemented revolutionary visual effects to bring the character of Junior (Smith's young clone) to life.
The technology used to make Gemini Man isn't cheap, so this was not exactly a cost-effective endeavor for Paramount. They invested a lot in the project, placing faith in Lee to craft something special that will appeal to audiences. Unfortunately, Gemini Man received mostly negative early reviews, with many critics saying the impressive action and effects are let down by a generic narrative. Paramount has to hope the film can overcome poor word-of-mouth if it is to become profitable.
Gemini Man's production budget is reportedly $138 million. This is in the same ballpark as the movies in Lee's filmography most comparable to Gemini Man: Hulk ($137 million) and Life of Pi ($120 million). Those three are obviously more effects-heavy and spectacle-driven than the likes of Brokeback Mountain and others, demonstrating Lee's versatility as a director.
Going by the general rule of thumb (production budget x 2 = break even point), Gemini Man needs to earn at least $276 million globally to make its money back. Clearly, it needs to make much more than that figure in order to be considered a commercial hit. At first glance, that seems doable, since Smith is coming off the highest-grossing film of his career (Aladdin) and remains a popular personality in Hollywood. However, it's worth remembering Aladdin is a remake of a beloved animated movie and had a large built-in fan base ready to see it on the big screen. Gemini Man is an original screenplay and could use some help standing out to mainstream moviegoers. Solid word-of-mouth praising it as a must-see on the big screen would have done wonders, but people probably have little incentive to check Gemini Man out. Last weekend's record-breaking Joker is still the hot film in the zeitgeist and will have strong legs in its second weekend.
Gemini Man likely won't face much direct competition for the remainder of the month (Zombieland: Double Tap is the biggest film left in October and may be arriving far too late to make an impact), which is a good thing. The problem is it isn't expected to win the box office this weekend, and business will only decline as the weeks go on. Paramount is lucky Gemini Man doesn't need to shatter any records in order to become a hit, but it still faces and uphill climb to get to that point.
- Gemini Man (2019) release date: Oct 11, 2019