‘Jem,’ ‘Rock the Kasbah’ join the biggest flops in movie history

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Jem,’ ‘Rock the Kasbah’ join the biggest flops in movie history.

Remember when we were all panicking about the future of cinema? New releases such as “Jem and the Holograms,” “Rock the Kasbah,” and “The Last Witch Hunter” fared poorly at the box office this past weekend, allowing less-recent movies such as “The Martian” and “Goosebumps” to triumph.Both “Rock the Kasbah” and “Jem and the Holograms” opened to two of the worst box office totals to wide-release films — those that open in over 2,000 theaters — in the past 30 years. It might not have led to a frenzied riot on Sunset Boulevard, but there was industry-wide concern that the proliferation of streaming services would slowly kill the multiplex experience.

It’s a bit of a good news/bad news situation for this Zac Efron film about an EDM DJ looking for love, made by one of the guys from “Catfish.” The good news is thanks to the openings of the two most recent additions to this list of movies, it won’t even be remembered as the worst wide release of 2015. Usually, horror movies just need an appealing hook to get movie-goers to buy in, but this dud about a woman imprisoned in a parking garage needed a lot more help. A sci-fi comedy starring Eddie Murphy as a man in 2079 trying to keep his nightclub away from the mafia, it made just $2.1 million opening weekend, falling short of such memorable films as “From Justin to Kelly,” “Grandma’s Boy,” and “Gigli.” Meanwhile, “Goosebumps,” which stars Jack Black and is based on the spooky children’s series of the same name, placed second, grossing more than $15 million.

Four new wide releases and one major expansion landed in US cinemas, yet not one of them could scrape together more than $11m, and two made less than $2m each. Further down the list, other releases from the year feature, including the misjudged Robert Zemeckis effects-driven caper The Walk, the Johnny Depp comedy Mortdecai, the Aardman animation Shaun the Sheep movie, the Michael Mann thriller Blackhat and the Sean Penn Taken-wannabe The Gunman. All three received reviews warning audiences to stay away. “Hunter” was not based on a pre-existing story, though it did star “Furious 7″ actor Vin Diesel.

But when you’re basing your film on a cult 80s animated show but hoping to appeal to a younger audience whose awareness of the original will be non-existent, you’re essentially starting from scratch. It also boasted a producer with a hit track record (Jason Blum) but when he’s known for his involvement in the horror genre, you’re also back to square one. The trailer desperately states that it’s ‘from the studio that brought you Pitch Perfect’ as if that cold coincidence might have some sort of creative influence on the end product. The bland package eschewed the neon vibrancy that gave the cartoon a following and any of the more fun action-y elements of the plot and pandered to teenage girls with an anonymous tale of the dangers of fame. The show’s ardent supporters were offended (director Jon Chu claims he had death threats) while the over-saturated tween demographic weren’t having any of it.

A culture clash comedy that relies entirely on the popularity of Bill Murray, an actor whose box office pull is virtually non-existent in 2015, the confused trailers failed to sell the idea of spending 100 minutes in Afghanistan with him. But in the new movie, Jem is discovered via YouTube, and the part of the story involving Synergy includes a plotline in which the band must find missing parts for the machine, a significant deviation from the original story. The plot, awfully explained in any marketing materials, sees Murray’s washed up music manager try to get a young girl fame on reality show Afghan Star with the help of Kate Hudson as a prostitute and Bruce Willis as a mercenary.

The reason Murray’s St Vincent turned into a sleeper hit last year was down to a simplistic and sentimental plot that appealed to the older audiences who would be lured out to see a Bill Murray film in the first place. Acting as yet another attempt to push Zac Efron from fresh-faced Disney star to gym-going leading man, We Are Your Friends went down the Flashdance/Magic Mike route by taking a trend and concocting an inspirational rags to riches tale around it. The hardcore Efron fans (the star boasts over 11m Twitter followers) aren’t likely to care for an Entourage-lite tale of bros trying to make it in the music business, while the trend-setting music fans would have trouble buying the ex-High School Musical star and the film’s rather dated attempts at appearing cool. But despite a marketing campaign that began last December, his fact-based drama The Walk will end up with just a $10m total in the US, a disastrous result for a film that should have received a hefty boost from both IMAX and 3D tickets.

Zemeckis’ decision to turn the true story previously told in James Marsh’s documentary Man on Wire into a cartoonish family film with a distractingly accented Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the French protagonist led to the all-important question: who is this for? Anyone intrigued by Philippe Petit’s story would have found the softened tone to be patronising, while young kids would have been unengaged by the story of a man who wants to walk between two tall buildings for no clear reason. The films mentioned won’t go down as the year’s biggest flops (Fantastic Four and Jupiter Ascending will feature in that list) because of their relatively modest budgets, but they will go down as the year’s lowest attended.

The panic over luring audiences to the cinema might have been temporarily tempered by this year’s run of successes but the flops have shown that no one is safe.

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