As The Hollywood Reporter noted in its breakdown of what went wrong, Warner Bros. producers must've hoped that China -- the world's second largest film market -- would bail out the underforming "Pan," but instead it had one of the worst studio launches of all time.
Here are some details from THR:
[Pan] debuted with a screening share of approximately 21.2 percent, but after earning just $740,000 on opening night, it lost over half of its screenings by day two. By Sunday, the film had mustered a scant $3.4 million over its first four days — easily the worst China launch by a studio film in recent memory (even Tomorrowland, which was considered a China disappointment in June, managed $14.11 million in six days).
As of Monday, Pan had grossed $30 million in North America and $63.8 million internationally. In order to recoup its $150 million production budget, plus global marketing costs, it's estimated the movie needed to make at least $400 million to turn a profit. Remaining international territories were the last hope — and China needed to play a part commensurate with its market footprint. An analyst for Chinese media outlet Sina, however, has predicted Pan won't come away with more than 40 million yuan ($6.28 million)."
Eek. What happened? Well, China didn't really care for the movie anymore than we did. Foreign audiences gave the movie mostly meh reviews, so that didn't help build interest. But "Terminator Genisys" didn't have great reviews either and it got a big boost in China. That's where the bad timing comes in. "Pan" was released in China amid a sea of similarly targeted foreign films. As THR noted, when "Terminator" opened in late August, it had the boost of being the only Hollywood movie in the market at the time, "right after the long summer blackout period when Chinese film regulators keep Hollywood titles out and give domestically produced films an uncontested run for peak moviegoing weeks."
"Terminator" benefited from good timing and the ensuing demand for Hollywood blockbusters. "Pan" didn't have the same release luck, and fell behind "Ant-Man," "Detective Conan," and "The Little Prince." It's a tough pill to swallow, and has to be disappointing for everyone who worked so hard on the film. But we still love you, Hugh Jackman, never doubt it!
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