Correction: We mistakenly stated that Ender’s Game was showing in 3D, but that is not the case.
Ender’s Game, one of the most beloved and politically challenging young adult novels in existence, was no easy sell as a tentpole feature, but Gavin Hood rounded up a strong group of actors and turned it into one of the most anticipated films of the year. Now, the box office didn’t exactly reflect just how much people wanted to see this thing, as it took in $28 million when it debuted this past weekend. $28 million is nothing to scoff at, of course, and it’s a big success for science fiction, but analysts don’t think it’ll be enough to keep studios playing the $110 million budget Game for any sequels.
“Ender’s Game had a credible $28 million opening but not a plausible start of a new franchise for Summit Entertainment and OddLot,” said Wunderlich Securities’ Matthew Harrigan, while B. Riley & Co.’s Eric Wold called it a “relatively lackluster start,” especially since the IMAX numbers were higher than he’d predicted.
An analyst’s word is worth only slightly more than yours or mine, of course, so it’s possible the film will still perform well enough to warrant another film or seven. But there are two strong reasons for these guys to assume the worst for Ender and Colonel Graff.
“The film did not draw well from young adults, despite the book’s popularity,” said MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler. “Roughly 54 percent of the audience was over the age of 25.” That isn’t so shocking to me, given quite a bit of the book’s fans first read it more than 25 years ago. But there’s no denying an absence of teenagers in the seats was damning for the film.
The second reason for doomsaying is this weekend sees the release of Disney and Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, which will certainly take over the top spot by a large margin. This past weekend, that film took in over $109 million in foreign grosses from 36 different countries, and it’s going to earn at least that much here in two or three weekends. So it’s possible good word of mouth, like our own positive review, may keep Ender’s Game in the top five for the next few weeks, earning more than the $75 million that analyst Ben Mogil predicts it will finish with.
If anything, the studios should look at the Thor sequel and remember that tentpole sequels almost always earn more than their predecessors, so keeping the budget relatively normal for a second film may work in their favor. I’ll take anything over someone trying to make a Gravity sequel, you know?