Disney’s pricey sci-fi/climate-change-warning film Tomorrowland is bombing at the Memorial Day weekend box office.
According to Deadline, the film is projected to earn roughly $32 million over the three-day frame, and just under $40 million once Monday’s Memorial Day box office is factored in. While only slightly less than pre-weekend predictions, the numbers are dismal for a George Clooney-toplined film that cost about $200 million to produce.
Making matters worse is the film’s so-so “B” rating from movie-appeal measuring website CinemaScore. Disney will have to rely on strong word-of-mouth (unlikely given the film’s lukewarm reception) and strong international receipts to recoup its massive investment.
But even in international territories, Tomorrowland is floundering; according to Deadline, the film took in just under $59 million from overseas markets in its first weekend of release. When compared with last weekend’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which earned just under $110 million overseas in its first weekend of release (on a $150 million budget), the numbers look downright awful.
Audiences and critics are divided on Tomorrowland, but there is some agreement among the Hollywood trades that the film’s climate change messaging is too heavy-handed.
“Clooney seems to have been cast as much for his liberal credentials as for his star power, and it’s a choice that can’t help but leave a somewhat smug aftertaste,” writes Variety film critic Justin Chang. “He’s almost too fitting a spokesman for a movie that urges humanity to end all wars, take responsibility for the environment, and foster a greater, more alert engagement with the world around us.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy places the blame on the film’s ending, writing that Tomorrowland is “one of the few [films] to place far more emphasis on talk than action, which is what will probably contribute to what, for some, will make for a softer experience than the genre norm.”
Time Out‘s Tom Huddleston called the film’s finale “flat as a pancake.”
But perhaps the most surprising criticism of the film comes from liberal outlet the Daily Beast. In a piece titled “George Clooney’s Global Warming Shaming,” the outlet’s Kevin Fallon knocks Clooney for “shaming us for causing the end of the world.”
“He’s the one who, like all of us, is educated on the environmental issues and human behaviors that are leading to the destruction of the Earth and the end of civilization,” Fallon writes. “He, like all of us, knows that we hold the power to fix these things, should we choose to do so. And he, like all of us, is resigned to not doing anything about it.”
“That is, until the right person and argument – or futuristic utopia based on a region in a Disney theme park – comes along to convince us to get motivated.”
Tomorrowland director Brad Bird had been on a roll before this film, churning out critical and commercial hits like The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. As Breitbart’s John Nolte pointed out last week, “every director eventually stumbles.”
“Casting the politically polarizing and overrated Clooney in a big-budget blockbuster might have been his first mistake,” Nolte wrote.
Overall, this year’s Memorial Day weekend box office stands at an anemic $151 million, the worst since 2001 and good for 14th place among previous holiday weekends. Last weekend’s female-centric Pitch Perfect 2 and the action reboot Mad Max: Fury Road represent the lone bright spots amidst a particularly weak weekend.
However, Disney is not cutting bait on Tomorrowland; Clooney is reportedly set to attend the film’s China premiere in Shanghai, and the film could still end up doing okay in international markets. But for a $190 million film, analysts told Deadline the film would have had to open in the $50 million range to be considered a success.
Clooney is set to star next in Jodie Foster’s Wall Street drama Money Monster. With a budget of “only” $30 million, there will be a lot less pressure on Clooney to fill the seats for that one.