×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Huntsman’ Faces Steep Writedown After Chilly Box Office Results

The failure of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” has ended Universal’s attempts to establish a new fairy tale franchise and could lose the studio as much as $70 million.

It’s difficult to accurately assess the amount of red ink the studio will be mopping up, given that Universal does not provide a marketing and distribution budget for its films, but several rival studio executives said they are confident the film is a money-loser. Other sources projected that the film will be able to find some relief on home entertainment platforms, estimating it will lose between $30 million to $40 million over its life cycle.

Though the film is still in theaters, and has a handful of foreign locations left to open, such as Greece and Japan, these executives predicted that the film will ultimately bring in $55 million domestically and $150 million overseas, topping out at just over $200 million. Universal has to split those receipts with theater owners. The global total is roughly half of what its predecessor, 2012’s “Snow White and the Huntsman,” generated during its theatrical run ($396 million).

“Winter’s War,” which has tallied $98 million worldwide, opened to just $19.4 million at the U.S. box office last weekend, down 65% from the original.

Produced by Joe Roth, “Winter’s War” has a bumpy history. In 2015, original director Frank Darabont (“The Walking Dead”) left the project over creative differences. He was replaced by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, the first film’s visual-effects supervisor. In addition, original star Kristen Stewart was jettisoned for the sequel, which brought back Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron and added newcomers Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt. The hope was to broaden the cinematic universe of the film beyond the Snow White character played by Stewart by focusing on Hemsworth’s titular adventurer. With a production cost of $115 million, the second “Huntsman” film was less expensive than the first picture’s $170 million budget.

Critics were not kind. The film earned a 19% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Exit polls were stronger, particularly with younger female audience members, and the film received a B+ CinemaScore.

“The movie wasn’t very good,” said Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth are all good actors, but you don’t have anyone who is really a bankable lead.”

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War” was also hurt by the continuing strength of “The Jungle Book.” In its second weekend, the Disney live action film racked up an impressive $61.5 million, a modest 40% drop from its opening weekend. Strong reviews have helped the film show impressive endurance.

Rivals said that to break even during its theatrical run, the $115 million film would have to earn roughly $325 million — a figure it will not hit. They pegged marketing costs at approximately $70 million, but noted that Universal may have pulled back some of its advertising if it sensed that the film was not connecting with audiences. The financial pain will be alleviated somewhat by other ancillary revenues, such as pay-TV deals and home entertainment sales.

Although Universal may have hoped to create a home-grown franchise to join the likes of “Pitch Perfect” and “Fast and the Furious,” the studio is likely done with the world of Snow White. Though the losses are steep and a reminder of the financial risks of playing the tentpole film game, Universal could rebound in the coming months. This summer brings back Matt Damon as the amnesiac title character in “Jason Bourne,” while “Despicable Me” creator Chris Meledandri will offer up the animated “The Secret Life of Pets,” and Zac Efron and Seth Rogen will return for “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Kanye West

    Kanye West to Preview ‘Jesus Is King’ Album and Film in Los Angeles on Wednesday

    On the heels of Monday’s announcement that Kanye West’s delayed “Jesus Is King” album will be released on Friday along with a companion IMAX film, the rapper will preview both projects at the Forum in Los Angeles on Wednesday, it was announced this morning. Tickets for the “Jesus Is King Album & Film Experience” will be [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    The Arcs Festival Taps Isabelle Huppert to Head The Talent Village For Young Helmers

    Guillaume Nicloux, the French director of “Valley of Love,” is set to preside over the jury of the Arcs Film Festival, while the iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) will be the patron of the second edition of the Talent Village. Created last year, the Talent Village is a development workshop and platform for emerging [...]

  • Isaac Perlmutter Disney Marvel

    Does Kevin Feige's Marvel Promotion Mean Ike Perlmutter's Endgame?

    Last week’s move giving Kevin Feige charge of Marvel’s television, animation and print editorial operations should come as no surprise. As the architect of the company’s enormous film success, Feige arguably has the most enviable track record of any contemporary entertainment executive. Extending his creative control over more of the Marvel universe seems like a [...]

  • Santa Barbara

    Anais Pareto Onghena Brings ‘Santa Barbara’ WIP to Impulso Morelia

    Having impressed at the Morelia Intl. Film Festival in the past with her short films, Spanish born, Mexican trained filmmaker Anaïs Pareto Onghena returns to the Michoacán capital with her latest feature “Santa Bárbara,” participating in the Impulso Morelia works in progress sidebar. Bárbara, a Bolivian woman living in Barcelona for more than a decade, [...]

  • Anna Movie

    EuropaCorp's U.S. Arm Gets Six-Month Debt Waiver From Paris Court

    EuropaCorp Films USA, the U.S. arm of Luc Besson’s Paris-based company, has been granted a six-month debt waiver from a French commercial court. Parent company EuropaCorp has already been on a six-month debt waiver since May, and the protection is supposed to come to an end in late November. A source close to the company [...]

  • Charles Tesson, Katrin Pors and John

    Morelia, Locarno Festivals Host Fifth Academy for Young Professionals

    Mexico’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival (FICM) and Locarno Academy are hosting the fifth edition of their joint academy for young professionals at this year’s festival, supported by the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) and the Ibermedia program. The Morelia/Imcine-Locarno Intl. Industry Academy – it’s official name . counts as one of a series of Academies hosted [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content