Sensei White Lotus here. Matt Damon’s Elysium opens Aug. 9, but for the following reasons is set for a “less than inspiring” opening.
1. Film Is Way Too Expensive.
Damon’s recent box office record is atrocious. His film Green Zone was such a box office flop that he was kicked off of his own franchise (The Bourne film series). His anti-fracking film Promised Land bombed so horribly last January, it couldn’t even break the $10 million domestic mark. Both Contagion and The Adjustment Bureau were box office disappointments (off their high costs), and even the more family-focused We Bought A Zoo disappointed back in 2011.
When faced with such awful numbers, actors are usually advised to go with “smaller budget” features to regain their footing. Damon missed that memo, as Elysium (according to IMDB.com) has a production budget well over $100 million.
2. Film Faces Stiff Competition.
What the filmmakers and Sony have been failing to mention is Elysium faces an uphill climb against one of box office’s most powerful forces–that being Pixar. The animation giant opens their latest, Planes, this weekend. Elysium also faces a big sequel in Percy Jackson: The Sea Of Monsters, a film whose first installment performed rather admirably. Adding to the misery is Warner Bros.’ We’re The Millers, which will steal away much of the R rated seeking audiences (audiences would rather laugh than get bored with hollow sci-fi). How nervous should Elysium be? Remember The Lone Ranger was demolished by the animated feature Despicable Me 2 despite the strong July 4th frame.
3. Sony’s Losing Streak.
Sony already has big-budget bombs After Earth and White House Down causing problems for the books. Elysium looks to fit the same mold: an over-expensive, preachy, unfocused genre entry that doesn’t engage action audiences, but rather alienates them. No film performs on the margins when its marketing campaign feels more like a political crusade than actual entertainment. Just consider Damon’s Promised Land, which was marketed as a “comedy” only to fail miserably.
4. Lousy Opening Date.
Let’s face it, August doesn’t really scream blockbuster. The largest “non sequel” films to open in the month were Signs and GI Joe: Rise Of Cobra. Elysium doesn’t have near the buzz of either of those two. Even then, those openings (around $50-$60 million) might be considered a disappointment for Elysium with so much invested in it. Sony is hoping for a District 9-like opening, but even that film’s opening ($37 million) will struggle to eventually cover the $100 million budget. Elysium doesn’t have near the positive buzz District 9 had to help fuel sales. Elysium will have to look to foreign markets just to cover its enormous production and marketing costs.
That’s Sensei’s take.