It’s not uncommon to see bad movies make a killing at the box office.
The Fifty Shades franchise has brought in more than $1 billion worldwide and Paul Blart: Mall Cop somehow earned enough to become a franchise. You can’t make sense of these things. But when it comes to Hollywood’s film adaptations of popular video games, everything is much clearer. Most of them are bad movies, and nearly all of them do poorly at the box office.
Angelina Jolie’s 2001 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is still the highest-grossing domestic video game movie at $131 million, but it still didn’t turn a mighty profit worldwide off its $115 million budget. Warcraft is the highest-grossing video game movie overall at $433 million, but the film couldn’t even crack $50 million domestically. Even the genre’s victories come with asterisks.
But can the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot break Hollywood’s video game curse?
The new look series has a few things going for it.
Oscar winner Alicia Vikander is taking over the lead role, providing a level of seriousness and talent that video game movies are often missing. Hollywood is also seeing a rise in female-driven action movies, making Tomb Raider an easy property to root for. Plus, anything with character actor Walter Goggins in it is worth seeing in our book.
Unfortunately for Warner Bros./MGM, social media buzz has been relatively muted for the film’s promotional materials and the early tracking numbers are underwhelming as is the early critical reaction.
According to The Wrap, Tomb Raider is looking at an opening weekend of between $27 million and $29 million, while the studio is holding to a more conservative estimate of $23 million to $25 million. Based on those numbers, a final domestic total right around $55 million to $60 million is a reasonable expectation, which would be disappointing for the studios.
Overseas, the movie has earned $14.1 million in nine Asian markets and received six international reviews that combined for a 50 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Let’s assume that the movie plays similarly to the first two Tomb Raider films in foreign markets, then you’re looking at a worldwide gross of over/under $125 million. If it plays like other recent female-led action flicks, such as Atomic Blonde, then the studio should expect an even smaller foreign haul.
Tracking information is notoriously streaky, with estimates for recent films such as Black Panther and It being way off the mark, while others such as A Wrinkle in Time were spot-on. But if these numbers hold true for Tomb Raider, it will struggle to secure a strong profit off of its reported $90 million budget.
Tomb Raider will hit theaters on March 16.