Godzilla: King of the Monsters tanked at the box office this weekend, which makes it the latest franchise to be in serious trouble.
Outside of animation and cheapie horror, all the movie business has left are franchises… All Hollywood has left are a handful of IPs (intellectual properties) that work just like a bunch of golden geese who keep right on producing golden eggs.
The problem with this approach, though, is that there are only so many golden geese out there, so many IPs that will put butts in seats; just so many Marvel Universes and Jurassic Worlds, and when one belly-flops, they are almost impossible to replace.
Legendary’s Godzilla franchise was in trouble almost from the beginning. The series launched in 2014 with Godzilla, which opened to a solid $93 million, but quickly petered out with a domestic take of $200 million and worldwide take of $530 million. With a production and marketing budget that likely topped $250 million, this one barely broke even (theaters on average keep 50 percent of box office receipts).
Next up was Kong: Skull Island, which opened to a disappointing $61 million, creeped to just $168 million domestic and an eventual $566 million worldwide. But with a production and marketing budget closer to $300 million, this one probably lost money, at least until the home video money rolled in.
With terrible reviews and a $49 million opening, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is in serious trouble, this includes worldwide.
There will be another one next year, Godzilla vs. Kong, but will the audience show up? They might for this match-up, but where does the franchise go afterwards? Right now, Godzilla looks like a doomed franchise.
I never thought I’d be writing the same about Star Wars, but after the Skywalker trilogy ends this December, and now that almost all of the original cast has died in real life or on the screen, how excited will audiences be about the upcoming trilogies? On top of that, the fan-backlash against the obnoxious woke politics infesting the franchise is real.
The box office failure of Solo (the Han Solo spin-off) almost certainly has everyone at Disney worried about what comes next. And they should be worried. The loss of these beloved characters and the political preaching have drained the franchise of most of its goodwill, and it is goodwill that keeps a movie series afloat.
Other franchises in serious trouble…
Star Trek: Beyond (2016) collapsed with just a $343 million worldwide take, which means it lost money. If the franchise wanted to add an openly gay character, that’s fine, but to make Sulu a homosexual betrayed the canon and reeked of woke. On top of that, the movie was pretty weak.
Terminator: Genisys (2015) was a disaster that failed to hit $100 million domestic. They’re going to try again later this year in the hope the return of Linda Hamilton can resurrect a franchise that already has three strikes against it. The other two strikes were Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation.
Alien: Covenant (2017) nosedived with a $240 million worldwide gross, and that was with Ridley Scott directing.
The Lego Movie 2 (2019) was an absolute disaster, grossing just $191 million worldwide.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald (2018) flamed out with just $159 million domestic and an unnerving $635 million worldwide. That’s a big loss of steam when the first grossed $234 million domestic and $814 million worldwide. This is the Potterverse that should be grossing a billion without breaking a sweat.
The DC Universe appeared to win a reprieve after Aquaman over-performed, but Shazam’s sorry worldwide take of just $360 million probably has everyone nervous again. Plus, the box office failure of Justice League and Henry Cavill retiring as Superman pretty much rules out what should have been the DC event movies to end all event movies. But we got another new Batman and another new Batman trilogy… so, yay?
After the failure of Transformers: Last Knight ($605 million worldwide), the attempt to reboot the franchise with the girl-powered Bumblebee resulted in a tepid $467 worldwide gross. With its lower budget, the movie probably made some money, but this was once a billion dollar franchise.
Other franchise losses include Pirates of the Caribbean, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Saw, Ghostbusters, Jack Ryan, Die Hard, Planet of the Apes, and The Monsterverse. These are total washouts that are probably done forever. If Ghostbusters brings back the original cast, as has been promised, it might do something, but don’t forget Ghostbusters 2 (1989) disappointed and that was with the original cast still in their prime.
Ghostbusting is an awfully weak premise to build a franchise on.
As far as the Will Smith-less Men in Black: International and Dark Phoenix, the latest X-Men entry (after the disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse), we will have the answer on those in a couple weeks.
Each one of these titles is a quarter-billion — with a “b” — gamble, at the least…
Every year Disney eats up a bigger piece of the box office pie…
Every box office year is one or two flops away from calamity…
Disney is doing fine, but for the rest this is not a sustainable business model.
And let’s not forget the death of the movie comedy — an entire genre is now extinct, thanks primarily to moderately-talented directors, writers, and actors who insult their fans and how the growing cancer of political correctness is proving to be anti-comedy.
So what comes next?
When you’ve insulted and alienated half your customers, killed the concept of the movie star, and run out of bankable franchises, how does the movie business get out of the corner it painted itself into?