Box Office: ‘Pan’ Shaping Up to Be a Painful Flop

Pan Hugh Jackman costumes
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

From Disney animated confections to NBC live musical events, Peter Pan has inspired several big and small screen productions over the years.

Some have been magical, others misbegotten. The latest trip to Neverland seems destined to fall into the latter category. “Pan,” an $150 million origin story about the boy who refused to grow up, is shaping up to be a painful flop. It is on track to follow the second star to the right and head straight on to a woeful $21 million this Columbus Day weekend across 3,515 locations. That means Warner Bros., the studio that greenlit the film with ambitions of turning it into a fantasy franchise, should brace itself for steep writedowns. In order for the studio to make a profit, a film like “Pan” will need to do at least $350 million to $400 million globally. A domestic debut on this level makes that figure unlikely.

“Pan” stars Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara and Garrett Hedlund and was directed by Joe Wright of “Atonement” fame. Reviews have been savage, with critics handing the film a scrawny 38% “rotten” ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.

The studio is hoping that word-of-mouth will be more positive, but “Pan” faces stiff competition from “Hotel Transylvania 2,” which continues to draw family crowds, and next week’s “Goosebumps,” a loose adaptation of the R.L. Stine children’s books that has enjoyed strong reviews.

“It’s not an easy place to be,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at “After a drought of family movies, now there’s a rush of them. Someone is going to lose out.”

The film could do better overseas. It opens this weekend in 52 territories, representing about 60% of the foreign market. It includes such major countries as Germany, Russia, Korea, Mexico and Spain. “Pan” has also scored a coveted berth in China, where it launches on Oct. 22.

The holiday brings another struggling studio effort into focus as Sony’s “The Walk” tries to recover from a lackluster limited Imax and premium-large-format release. The biopic about performance artist Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers disappointed with $1.6 million in its debut. It now expands from 448 theaters to more than 2,500 locations where it should bring in between $5 million and $7 million. The picture was shot for a relatively economical $35 million, which mitigates Sony’s risk, although breaking even could be hard to achieve given the tepid reception that has greeted “The Walk” so far.

Then there’s “Steve Jobs,” an Aaron Sorkin-penned look at the life of the father of the iPhone that stars Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet. The Apple founder biopic arrives looking for Oscar love in limited release. “Steve Jobs” bows in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles and will expand to additional North American markets on Oct. 16 before going wide the following week. Universal spent $30 million to produce the drama.

With “Pan” and “The Walk” failing to make much noise, two holdovers should generate the most heat. Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” nearly overtook “Gravity” last week to set a new record as the biggest October launch in history. Rave reviews and strong exit polls signal that it’s settling in for the long haul. The film about an astronaut marooned on the Red Planet should pull in $30 million in its sophomore weekend. “Hotel Transylvania 2” will also perform well, bringing in roughly $18 million.

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  1. Bella says:

    Just finished watching it, honestly not impressed. I was very disappointed that this will be the Peter Pan children will grow up with now. I’m fourteen and absolutely love the original story of Peter Pan, it is the first Disney movie I can remember watching as a little kid and it kind of made me sad watching it and knowing a lot of kids will never know the true story about finding yourself and accepting the fact that everyone grows up. I understand how it would be hard living up to the legend that is Peter Pan, but I think they could have written it better.

  2. Angela says:

    The film was actually much better than I expected. It is true that the film had a few holes in the story line and character development, however we found the film to be enjoyable and a nice step away from your traditional story of Peter Pan. I do disagree with the professional critics, as I often do, and if you have any interest in Peter Pan then it is worth the time to see. The ending sets the stage for a sequel and I hope they follow it up with an additional film that continues to tell the tale of the history between Peter Pan and Hook while taking a little more time to develop a more cohesive plot.

  3. Ben says:

    this movie sucks alot. its so cringy, no storyline, huge plotholes, and seems like the director is making up new ideas on the spot to move the story along. none of the characters are developed, nor are their backgrounds explained. the main plot of the story was hardly explained… and seemed forceful.

  4. Jacques Strappe says:

    Re-titled at the last minute as “Panned”

  5. Jacques Strappe says:

    Let’s take the classic Peter Pan tale that has already been visualized umpteenth times and throw 100 million or so into scattershot, headache-inducing CGI effects to make everyone forget the simple and beautiful narrative of the Peter Pan story. Brilliant.

    Honestly, how does something like this get approved?

  6. Alfred Sharpen Sr says:

    As a filmmaker of color can someone explain why The Walk at $35 budget is a low risk when Straight Outta Compton couldnt get $20 from New Line. Universal made Compton at $35 and it was still considered a risk. Who is this French artist and is he know worldwide like Picasso or Da Vinci? Just trying to determine what constitutes risk in the film biz.

  7. Bill B. says:

    It always sounded and looked like it would be a mistake. From the clips I’ve seen it doesn’t even look like much fun either. I’ve heard the kid is good though. Sad about The Walk’s failure. Like Gordon-Levitt and clearly it’s something to behold visually, but I think even now, the public is not going out of its way to see a movie in which the WTC is the centerpiece. It’s still too soon.

  8. macdomain says:

    OK, if you liked “the Martian”, then you are showing that you don’t recognize poor writing, and bad casting (apart from Matt Damon). If you cast Rooney Mara in your movie, then you don’t know what good acting is, either. If you are running a studio, and you think you’re going to try and regurgitate another story that’s been done too many times and spoon feed it to us, then this is what you get. STUDIO HEADS- WAKE UP- TRY A NEW STORY WITH NEW CHARACTERS WE CARE ABOUT.
    Have a nice day.

  9. ks says:

    Director Joe Wright has become too obtuse and avante garde for mainstream. Of you want to make money with your film pick another director.

  10. Occultology says:

    “Pan” is the root word in “Panic”.

  11. MM says:

    Maybe it’s a sign to show major studies not everything needs a damn live action prequel, sequel or remake/reboot.

  12. Ronnie says:

    What genius at Warner Bros. thought that we needed ANOTHER Peter Pan movie? Between the character being covered on several TV shows like “Once Upon A Time” and the live remake of the Mary Martin version, it’s one character that’s been getting overdone. Not to mention, people still watch the Disney classic. By dropping features like “Straight Outta Compton” and green lighting crap like this, some heads are gonna roll over there soon.

    • Don't Mind Me Now says:

      Because someone at WB saw how much money Alice in Wonderland made and thought, “Hey! We should do that too!” And then they saw Snow White and the Huntsman do well and it became clear to them that audiences don’t care that much about whether it’s Disney making the movie or not. So they immediately greenlit Pan and Jungle Book: Origins to cash in. And now the fruits of their cynical labor will become legendary bombs because they didn’t care about making their movies actually appealing to audiences. (Even if JB: Origins turns out to be good, it will still bomb because they made it too late, and the Disney version stole its thunder.)

      • Jamie says:

        It didn’t help that “Once Upon A Time” had just done a whole season based on an “evil” Peter Pan just as this movie was being filmed. This is probably a case of a film subject out lasting its welcome that even Hugh Jackman’s talent couldn’t save.

      • Michelle Wolfe says:

        Garrett Hedlund is also no Colin O’Donoghue…

      • Don't Mind Me Now says:

        *Note: I’m not saying live-action Alice or Snow White are good films. (Hate Alice, never seen Snow White.) Just that they had marketing appeal. 2015 Hugh Jackman hamming it up does not have the mass-audience drawing power of 2010 Johnny Depp playing an eccentric weirdo, and Garrett Hedlund is no Chris Hemsworth.

  13. Doc Michaels says:

    For anyone who follows the news this is no surprise at all. PAN endured studio mandated reshoots after lousy test screenings and had its music score replaced. Then came the release date switch…all signs of a troubled and poor movie. None of those things happen to films a studio has confidence in.

  14. 85wzen says:

    For some reason Hollywood is nuts about Pan, the story of a little boy who flies! That’s sweet but it may not excite everyone.

  15. People are being a bit harsh to this fun family film. All that should be asked is… why did you spend SO damn much?!?!?!

  16. cadavra says:

    They could have saved a lot of money–and made a lot of money–by filming PETER AND THE STARCATCHER instead. But they’re terrified of making–gasp!–a musical (unless it’s a cartoon).

    • BRice says:

      Peter and the Starcatcher isn’t a musical and Disney is developing it as a film

      • cadavra says:

        Oh. Then it must have been some other Tony-winning musical called PETER AND THE STARCATCHER based on the Dave Barry book and featuring young versions of Peter and Hook that I saw twice on Broadway.

  17. Thetoxicavenger says:

    What do movies like the walk or pan really bring to the art of movie making. Nothing. And that’s why they will underperform. There is a weird justice in the movie business that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Have to love it.

  18. Toni says:

    Pan looked horrible from the very first trailer they released. Nobody I know is even talking about it or is interested in it. I smell again, yet another box office bomb for Warner Bros.

  19. Joe says:

    We’re looking forward to seeing it.
    Hope the reviews are wrong.

  20. Jamie says:

    Don’t you think you might have waited until real people as opposed to tight *** critics had a chance to see the movie once it opens? We have three generations in my family and will all be there opening day because unlike some we actually expect a movie to be fun rather than sturm drang and general miserableness seeking awards.

    • Jedi77 says:

      Ahh, but real people have seen it, and they didn’t like it either. It opened in Australia a week ago, and didn’t catch fire with audiences either.

    • Thetoxicavenger says:

      Movies being “fun” and inter generational is why movies have been subpar content wise and devoid of any psychological intrigue but judging by the horrendous bo estimates it looks like the studios may finally get back on track to producing elevated content. Have fun at pan!

      • Jamie says:

        We regularly split up for our choice of genres, but it is nice having at least one picture a year that appeals to all at least once during the year. I’ll write an honest review when it has been seen.

    • Iona says:

      Oh please! This movie is gonna be one of the biggest box office bombs of the year. It looks terrible.

  21. Falli says:

    PAN deserves to be a hit. It is the stuff of children’s dreams: part colorful, exciting adventure; part kids’ common fears–all rendered with great imagination. The children at the preview I saw were definitely into this youth-appeal movie and cheered many scenes.It’s fairly entertaining for adults, but children are the real audience.

    • Nigel says:

      LOL, this piece of crap deserves to bomb.

      Pan flopping at the box office harder than CW ratings is exactly what a white washed movie deserves.

    • Jo says:

      Very astute observation! It belongs to the world of a child’s imagination and I am hoping to take that view when I see this movie…and to enjoy myself!

  22. PG says:

    Is this due to boycotts, or just disinterest or bad reviews..?

    • Jason says:

      38% on RT. And falling. What do you think?

      • Mark says:

        And rotten tomatoes is owned by warners…
        That said, it looks better than, and is already only half the flop that horrible kids movie john carter was.

      • Jamie says:

        RT seems to give extra points to reviewers who agree with the tomato meter, so a bunch of sheep slogged along before any of the public has actually had a chance to see the film and get some “real people’ reviews. Way too much power.

    • Al Swearengen says:

      The trailers have been awful.

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