Young-adult fantasy adaptation Mortal Engines bombed at the box office this weekend, earning only $7.5 million domestically. The film reunited the creative team behind the blockbuster Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, with producer Peter Jackson spearheading the endeavor for Universal. Though Mortal Engines was made to stand on its own merits as a largely self-contained narrative, it being part of a series meant there was hope sequels could eventually come to fruition. With Fast & Furious one of their only viable tentpoles, Universal could use another cash cow.
Unfortunately, Mortal Engines seemed to be doomed from the get-go. It was plagued by largely negative reviews, with critics feeling the impressive visual effects and world-building were let down by a hollow story that failed to leave a meaningful impact on the audience. While some genre properties can be critic proof and perform well commercially despite terrible word-of-mouth, Mortal Engines clearly did not fall into that category. With the figure now in, this would-be franchise will be short-lived.
According to Box Office Mojo, Mortal Engines earned a paltry $7.5 million in its first three days domestically, good enough for fifth place on the charts. The rest of the top five consisted of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($35.4 million), The Mule ($17.2 million), The Grinch ($11.5 million), and Ralph Breaks the Internet ($9.5 million).
Universal frankly would have been better served slotting Mortal Engines a week earlier, where it would have been able to take advantage of minimal competition. Last weekend saw no new wide releases and ended up being the worst box office haul of the year. Instead, Mortal Engines went up against the critically-acclaimed Into the Spider-Verse, which boasted infinitely more appeal to mass audiences. If Mortal Engines' reviews were stronger, then perhaps it would have put up more of a fight, but people obviously weren't very interested. The fantasy film will need a strong showing overseas to salvage this disaster, though it isn't getting much help there, either. Currently, it's earned $42.3 million worldwide against a $100 million production budget and has already opened in most of its markets. And with tentpoles like Aquaman and Bumblebee coming out next week, Mortal Engines isn't going to stay around for much longer.
As for Spider-Verse, its opening weekend may seem a bit soft to some, especially considering the very enthusiastic response and awards buzz the film's received. However, it performed in line with the projections and is off to a robust start, given its production budget was $90 million. And even with the multiplex about to get more crowded as Christmas comes closer, Into the Spider-Verse should continue to perform well and have strong legs. Now that The Grinch and Ralph Breaks the Internet have done most of their damage, Spider-Verse is the biggest animated film around for the holidays.
Source: Box Office Mojo
- Mortal Engines (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018