Is ‘Pacific Rim’ Doomed to Be This Year’s ‘Battleship’?

Warner-Legendary $180 mil tentpole tracking in the mid-$30 millions

With Roland Emmerich opening his latest film, “White House Down,” this weekend, the director shines a timely spotlight on Warner Bros.’ big-budget original-concept gamble, “Pacific Rim,” opening July 12.

The question is will “Pacific Rim” become this year’s “The Day After Tomorrow,” a surprise hit for Emmerich in 2004, which opened to $68 million domestically, or “10,000 B.C.,” which became a financial flop bowing to just $35 million in 2008?

SEE MORE: ‘Pacific Rim’s’ Legendary Marketing Challenge

With less than two weeks to go, but approximately 70% of the film’s marketing budget yet to be spent, early tracking suggests “Pacific Rim” is more likely to become the latter — a troubling outcome given the film’s $180 million budget, according to Warner. (Some industry insiders say the budget is closer to $200 million.) Regardless, Warner is responsible for only 25% of the film’s production cost, with Legendary Pictures having funded the rest.

Tracking for the film could pop as early as tomorrow and build through next week as Warner continues to spend more of its marketing budget. “I think we were a bit off base, but I think we have a real shot at turning the ship around,” said Warner domestic distribution prexy Dan Fellman.

SEE MORE: Inside ‘Pacific Rim’ with Guillermo del Toro

There also are undeniable comparisons between “Pacific Rim” and last year’s “Battleship,” which ultimately cost Universal nearly $150 million.

Like “Battleship,” which cost $220 million and grossed just north of $300 million worldwide, “Pacific Rim” stars a mostly lower-tiered cast including Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam, who are fighting against an effects-heavy alien invasion.

“Pacific Rim,” from director Guillermo del Toro, about a global all-out war between monsters and robots, marks the summer’s latest (post-) apocalyptic pic after Sony’s bellyflop “After Earth” and Paramount’s “World War Z,” which scored a surprisingly solid $66 million Stateside opening last weekend. “Z” bowed day-and-date in 25 international markets, earning $45 million.

SEE MORE: PHOTOS: The Business of ‘Pacific Rim’

The Warner-Legendary film also will rely heavily on overseas markets. The studio has catered to individual territories in its marketing campaign with country-specific designs. “Pacific Rim” screened at CineEurope earlier this week in Barcelona, where it received positive reactions from exhibitors.

As for Emmerich’s “White House Down,” which Sony is releasing at approximately 3,000-plus domestic locations this weekend, tracking suggests the film will open in the mid-$30 millions Stateside, comparable to Fox’s “The Heat,” which also opens nationwide Friday.

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  1. Keth says:

    Author is a presumptuous fool. If he had waited to write about Pacific Rim he would see that only ten days after it’s worldwide release it has already made back the $180 million budget. With another two weeks in theaters plus rentals Pacific Rim will undoubtedly turn a hefty profit.

  2. Perhaps what is most hopeful and far more helpful is a kind of “WORLD WAR Z” refocusing of product and placement. It’s both presumption and failure on the part of the studio’s marketing department…. Did they not know their product or understand their audience?

    IRON MAN in 2008 was an effects-heavy, big-budget original-concept gamble by Paramount Pictures that paid off handsomely. For two years the movie was hailed as the “best-reviewed film”.

    A human being augmented by a robotic suit is nothing new; in fact, by now it’s shopworn. The marketing issue regarding PACIFIC RIM is its subsequent exploitation of a genre-type recognized more as TRANSFORMER than IRON MAN yet perceived as BATTLESHIP…and GODZILLA.

    Quite a perception to overcome.

    The clarification strategy by Warner Bros./Legendary will sort things out for potential moviegoers, but will do little to improve upon Del Toro’s “passion project” beyond what is already there.

  3. Jacob F Keller says:

    More likely it is going to be the new “Independence Day” — a huge commercial and critical success that will set the standard for the genre moving forward.

  4. Hi, I just went to the world premier of Pacific Rim in Mexico City and there’s nothing to be afraid, it rocks! It’s magnificent and exciting. ENORMOUS fun!

  5. snowballx350 says:

    Battleship & Pacific Rim have absolutely nothing in common. This is a film about Kaiju & humans etc. Do research Variety op! Also…it’s nice to see someone is will to do a film with Kaiju etc in the United States. Countries will love this overseas as well. i hope they show a Godzilla trailer before the movie starts since it comes out next year.

  6. chris says:

    Like they say about Richard e grant he not made a bad movie I would like to say Guillermo del toro is the same and theres not a movie he has made that I would not watch ,personally I can’t wait for pacific rim and also idris Elba (see the cracking BBC show Luther )both are a class act.

  7. David Peñasco Maldonado says:

    White House Down and World War Z will CRUSH the next fan film of nerdist fatboy man child Guillermo del Toro. And all the praises of Harry ‘Paycheck’ Knowles can’t change that.

  8. If this film doesn’t make at least as much money in Asia, as Battleship earned worldwide I will be genuinely surprised. This is also a genre that has hardly ever been done in “Western” cinema, especially at the top end, (and not in monsters = Communist periods) so it is fresh and that may help it.

  9. The One, The Only, The Beast, Nelson! says:

    Your tracking numbers are garbage! Pacific Rim WILL be a hit!

  10. Dre says:

    +1 for awesome actor Idris Elba. +1 for compassionate director Guillermo del Toro. +1 for no signs of Rihanna. For these reasons I will be watching this movie.

  11. Evangelion rip-off. Why no one says that?

    • Because it isn’t. What gives you the idea that you’re seeing Evangelion as the first mix of Mecha and Daikaiju! Also Del Toro cites “Tetsujin 28-go” (Gigantor), as one of the main anime influences of his childhood.

    • No Evangelion Rip-Off.
      Del Toro is Mexican and Evangelion was largely ignored there. If anything, this movie is inspired by Mazinger Z and other mecha anime from the 70’s, which were insanely popular in Mexico back then.

      • dre says:

        Travis came up with the idea not Del toro. so no he wasn’t inspired by a mexican robo cartoon

    • M says:

      I say it to myself every time I see it. I figure they’ll gross well among Anime fans though.

  12. Paul Vernon says:

    Well, if you write articles like this it’ll give a bad stigma & create a self-fulling assumption. I thought it looks ace & I keep hearing loads of buzz. IF it does badly at the cinema, it’ll do great on DVD.

  13. Joshua Davis says:

    I’m sorry, I just can’t see anything directed by Guillermo del Toro as being as bad as Battleship. He’s simply too talented and passionate. It may not scale great heights box office-wise, as WB seems to not know (at all) how to properly sell the film. But hey…a movie doesn’t need to be a gargantuan success — hell, even a ‘success’ — for me to like it. I have a strong feeling I will enjoy this movie, box office be damned.

  14. david says:

    Having seen the trailer and idea behind Pacific Rim, And cant wait for the movie. Its a freash new movie not a rehack of anything. Altought you can say is a mix of godizalla and dance dance. But it looks awsome. And WWz just plain suck, Think it should of been called WW Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  15. harry georgatos says:

    This is going to be another bombastic tentpole picture with half the world wiped out in endless CGI destruction done on an apocalyptic level. There’s been a bombardment of these films from TRANSFORMERS, WWZ, MAN OF STEEL, THE AVENGERS and so many others. There might be just enough dumb teenagers out there with loose change in their pockets to turn this movie into a hit.
    Films with budgets like PACIFIC RIM and WWZ have to make a billion dollars to at least turn a profit! It’s time the whole system in La La Land crashes and burns!

    • Randall says:

      Those budgets are why I’m learning Nuke, Blender, and Houdini!

      • @Everton Carter you are not exactly right. You need to make twice the production cost PLUS P&A costs. That will be half the production budget. Though no big names though means no one gets a % of the revenue outside of the producers so that is good.

      • $1b? Your maths is way off there. If a film makes double its TOTAL production costs at the box office it will ave made a profit with the addition of any of the other streams (TV, DVD, Rentals etc.) An extra 5 – 10 % and it will be making profit from box office alone. (Some films will break even at,, or even before the double point.) So unless you have a bunch of $500m costing films out there that the rest of us don’t know about, you are very mistaken here.

  16. Casey Moore says:

    The script for Battleship was horrible. The script for Pacific Rim is excellent. Two very different films. Pacific Rim deserves to be a success.

  17. steven groves says:

    Since I really liked battleship, I can only hope pacific rim is just as good. Now before people start bashing that sentence remember, I guarantee that you’ve liked a movie I couldn’t stand. But a movie about giant robots fighting aliens sounds like a b japanese movie but one thing del toro does in all of his films is he gives each one a heart. Doesn’t get better than that. Today we’re cancelling the apocalypse!

  18. Gio says:

    A board game versus actual creativity! No I think PACIFIC RIM has a chance. Besides wasn’t AFTER EARTH this years BATTLESHIP!?

  19. Todd Koerner says:

    Of course, it will be. After the assault on my ears with the interminable fight scenes in “Man Of Steel,” I can’t bear the thought of more destruction porn with a thin story and cardboard characters.

    Good riddance!

  20. StoryMapsDan says:

    In a word…No. The trailers for Pacific Rim look incredible. The ads for Battleship looked like the ship had already sunk.

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