As of this writing, Will Smith and Ang Lee’s sci-fi blockbuster Gemini Man has earned just $36 million in North America and less than $120 million worldwide after two weeks. Normally, that wouldn’t necessarily be a sign that the sky is falling, but thanks to Lee’s use of high frame rate and costly digital creation techniques, this underwhelming total has Gemini Man on pace to become one of the biggest box office flops of the year and raise questions about Hollywood’s future foreign funding.
Gemini Man, which sees Smith’s hit-man battle against a younger clone of himself, cost a whopping $138 million to produce while also carrying $100 million-plus in marketing costs. As such, it’s now on pace to lost $75 million or more, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That’s a particular hit to Smith, who had been enjoying a cultural and financial renaissance of sorts in recent years. Not even China, which reliably conjures of big totals for star-driven action spectacles, could save Gemini Man following a muted $21 million opening in the Middle Kingdom.
A $75 million-plus loss tops that of Warner Bros.’ The Goldfinch, one of the most infamous flops of the year so far. The adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name couldn’t crack $10 million worldwide against a $45 million budget, cementing its place in the $50 million-loss range.
One positive way to look at Gemini Man‘s disappointing box office total, the outlet notes, is that its hefty budget was shared by several production outfits. Along with Paramount Pictures and David Ellison’s Skydance Media (which also produces the Mission: Impossible franchise), China-based companies Fosun and Alibaba also backed the picture. The issue here, however, is that with each failure, China becomes more hesitant to infuse Hollywood with found money. Chinese Conglomerate Dalian Wands is eyeing a Hollywood exit after a tumultuous few years in control of Legendary Entertainment. Could Gemini Man inspire a similar exodus?
Per THR: “Paramount and Skydance each put up 35 percent of the budget (the former’s losses could be minimized when recouping its distribution fee). Fosun, which is distributing Gemini Man in China, has a 25 percent stake, followed by 5 percent for Alibaba.”
In recent years, the Chinese government has created policy to slow the migration of capital from China to Hollywood and instead focus on internal cinematic development. As the country develops more homegrown hits such as Wolf Warrior 2 ($854 million in China) and The Wandering Earth ($691 million), deep-pocketed Chinese investors interested in film may divert their resources to productions closers to home.
Though China’s box office remains slightly behind North America’s in 2019, the region is projected to surpass the U.S. as the most important theatrical box office sector in the world in the new future.