Zac Efron's "We Are Your Friends" was unfriended by most of the country this weekend. The EDM movie, co-starring Wes Bentley and Emily Ratajkowski, was released on 2,333 screens but only made $1.8 million. That's not just short of the $8 million projection, it's also the worst wide-release launch of Efron's career and one of the worst openings of any studio film ever.
Entertainment Weekly culled the list of the top 10 worst wide-release movies ever, and "We Are Your Friends" ended up at No. 3, just behind "Delgo" and "Oogieloves In The BIG Balloon Adventure." This movie actually did worse than the much-mocked "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" and marks Wes Bentley's second time on the list, since he was also in the horror movie "P2."
According to Variety, Warner Bros. only spent $2 million to acquire "We Are Your Friends." Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president Jeff Goldstein commented on the opening: "We're disappointed," he told Variety. "We believe in Zac and this was a passion project of his." He said basically the same thing to The Hollywood Reporter: "This was a passion project for Zac Efron, and we believe in him. Yes, the result was disappointing, but this was a small film." So it was basically an investment in their relationship with Zac Efron, and no huge loss.
But why did it tank like this, falling behind not only "Straight Outta Compton" and "War Room," but "Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation," "No Escape," "Sinister 2," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," "Hitman: Agent 47," "The Gift," "Jurassic World," "Ant-Man" "Minions," and "American Ultra"? It's not like it was a critically trashed movie, showing -- once again -- that critical acclaim or disdain is not always a factor in box office. "We Are Your Friends" fell close to the middle, with a 43% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
So what went wrong? More than one thing, but pretty much everyone agrees that "We Are Your Friends" was not a great name. What does it even mean and how does it tell the story? The marketing didn't help explain what the movie was about, other than Zac Efron and music. It didn't seem like a must-see, opening weekend kind of movie, especially in one of the last weekends of the summer. It may end up being a solid "renter" -- which nowadays includes streaming -- as opposed to something people feel the need to head out and see. Some fans are defending the movie online, blaming the name/marketing and predicting it will be something of a cult hit. We'll see.
Do you have any theories on why "We Are Your Friends" under-performed to historic levels?
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