Lionsgate once hoped to turn “Gods of Egypt” into its next major film franchise.
But those dreams were dashed this weekend, after the $140 million fantasy epic opened to a feeble $14 million across 3,117 theaters. The film is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest flops, all but guaranteeing there won’t be a part two. Its failure demonstrates the difficulty that the studio behind “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” series faces as it struggles to find new projects to replace its retiring franchises.
With “Gods of Egypt” clattering to earth, “Deadpool” continued to soar. The Fox comic-book movie added $31.5 million to its $285.6 million domestic haul for a first place finish. After three weeks of release, it ranks as the third highest-grossing R-rated film on a domestic basis behind only “American Sniper” ($350.1 million) and “The Passion of the Christ” ($370.8 million).
Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson thinks that “Deadpool” could catch up to “The Passion of the Christ.”
Popular on Variety
“It’s been a phenomenal run,” he said. “Every week it has exceeded our modeling.”
Although it ranks as a significant setback, Lionsgate took steps to limit its financial hit on “Gods of Egypt.” It protected itself from potential losses through a combination of foreign pre-sales and a 46% production incentive from the Australian government for shooting in the country. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer has reassured analysts that the studio’s exposure on the budget was under $10 million.
“We built a strong financial model so we could take a big swing in hopes of creating a new franchise with very little financial risk,” said David Spitz, co-president of Lionsgate’s domestic theatrical distribution. “The film didn’t work as well as we hoped but fortunately our downside is very limited.”
Internationally, “Gods of Egypt” also struggled, grossing an estimated $24.2 million from 68 markets, including Russia, Brazil and the Philippines.
Misery loved company this weekend. Sports comedy “Eddie the Eagle” and heist thriller “Triple 9” both failed to connect in their debuts. “Eddie the Eagle,” a Fox-produced story about an unlikely Olympic athlete (Taron Egerton) face-planted to a paltry $6.3 million from 2,038 locations for a fifth place finish. It cost $23 million to make. Fox believes that the film’s A CinemaScore could help it find its audience in the coming weeks.
“We’re hoping that people will discover this film,” said Aronson. “It’s a very sweet film and at this time, with all the negativity of the political races, it’s nice to be reminded of the power of the human spirit.”
Open Road fielded “Triple 9,” a gritty thriller from John Hillcoat (“The Road”) that stars Casey Affleck and Anthony Mackie in a tale of bank robbers and crooked cops. It did an anemic $6.1 million worth of business, and cost $20 million to bring to the screen.
Analysts speculated that a glut of films is crowding the market. Three films have opened each weekend since Jan. 15.
“It’s hard to rise above the noise,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. “There’s a lot of inventory out there.”
Holdovers “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Risen” rounded out the top five, earning $9 million and $7 million, respectively. “Kung Fu Panda 3” has generated $128.4 million after five weeks in theaters, while “Risen” has made $22.7 million in two.
Most eyes in Hollywood remained fixed on Sunday’s Oscar ceremony. To that end, best picture frontrunner “The Revenant” crossed the $170 million mark this weekend, adding $3.8 million to its haul. The survival epic has earned nearly 70% of its gross following the Academy Awards nominations — a sign of what a little Oscar attention can do for a challenging film that includes crowd-pleasing moments involving horse disembowelment and raw bison eating.