Reminiscence, the new Hugh Jackman thriller, has become one of the biggest flops in box office history.
The post-apocalyptic thriller grossed just $2million (£1.4million) in its first weekend in North America, marking one of the worst starts in history for a nationwide release – including some of the nondescript action dramas that premiered during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Even though it played on 3265 screens, Reminiscence grossed less than half of Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged and Liam Neeson’s recent action flick, Honest Thief, both of which made more than $4million (£3.4million) over their opening weekends.
According to Vairety, the Lisa Joy-directed film, which received both a cinema release and a simultaneous release on HBO Max, had a production budget of $65million (£55million). It needed a box office total of approximately $130million (£110million) to break even.
Also starring Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton and Cliff Curtis, Reminiscence follows Nick Bannister (Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, who navigates the alluring world of the past when his life is changed by new client Mae. A simple case becomes an obsession after she disappears and he fights to learn the truth about her.
The Warner Bros. film, which had been compared unfavourably to sci-fi classics Inception and Blade Runner, has also been poorly received by critics, with the film currently rated at 38 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, with an audience score of 39 per cent at the time of publishing.
Reminiscence follows other recent high profile box office flops, The Little Things ($4.8million in its opening weekend) and Those Who Wish Me Dead ($2.8million), both of which were also made available to watch online.
Hugh Jackman’s ‘Reminiscence’ Crumbles With $2 Million Debut, Highlighting the Struggle of Movies Aimed at Older Audiences
Even without the delta variant and Hurricane Henri keeping prospective moviegoers at home, a poorly reviewed post-apocalyptic noir wrapped in a love story may have been a tough sell in theaters.
Movies aimed at older audiences have been particularly challenged at the box office in recent years, with more falling flat than not. Yet “Reminiscence,” starring Hugh Jackman and directed by “Westworld” co-creator Lisa Joy, failed to reach even modest box office expectations. In its first weekend, the Warner Bros. film, which is playing simultaneously on HBO Max, barely scraped together $2 million from 3,265 North American theaters, marking one of the worst starts in history for a nationwide release — and that’s including the swath of nondescript action dramas that premiered during the bleakest days of the pandemic.
At a time when roughly half of the nation’s movie theaters were entirely shuttered due to COVID-19, the scant amount of movies released in late 2020 and early 2021 — Russell Crowe’s revenge thriller “Unhinged” ($4 million from 1,823 venues), the Liam Neeson caper “Honest Thief” ($4.1 million from 2,425 locations), and “Let Him Go,” a little-talked-about drama with Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, ($4 million from 2,454 cinemas) among them — were able to make twice as much as “Reminiscence” did in its opening weekend. That suggests the ongoing global heath crisis isn’t entirely to blame for the film’s paltry launch in theaters.
“I don’t know if you can lay it all on consumer’s habits during the pandemic,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore. “Even in this marketplace, product is the No. 1 factor. People want to see a good movie. A film has to have a lot of buzz to rise above the fray.”
“Reminiscence” did not enjoy the kind of reception that galvanizes people to rush to their local multiplexes. Moviegoers and critics alike dismissed the film, which received a “C+” CinemaScore and 37% average on Rotten Tomatoes. It centers on Jackman, who has been a consistent box office draw in musicals and superhero fare and a mixed bag in other genres, as a private investigator who runs a business that allows people to access lost memories. He’s thrown for a loop when he discovers a violent conspiracy while trying to solve the mystery behind a missing client. Many reviews for the film praised its creative concept but felt it didn’t begin to live up to similarly cerebral sci-fi films like “Blade Runner” or “Inception.” It co-stars Rebecca Ferguson and Thandie Newton.
“No one could accuse ‘Reminiscence’ of being an incompetent movie,” Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote in his review. “Yet here’s one case where that feeling of clockwork precision is actually part of what’s numbing about the film. ‘Reminiscence’ plays like a perfectly calibrated two-hour mirage of things we’ve seen before.”
Its hybrid debut on HBO Max didn’t help boost ticket sales. Warner Bros. has been releasing its entire 2021 slate on its parent company’s streaming service and in theaters simultaneously, and several of the movies for adult audiences, such as Angelina Jolie’s “Those Who Wish Me Dead” ($2.8 million debut), Denzel Washington’s “The Little Things” ($4.8 million debut) and “Judas and the Black Messiah” ($2 million debut) fell flat at the box office. The studio has been more successful with its action-packed tentpoles catered to the general public, like “Godzilla vs. Kong” ($31 million debut) and “Space Jam: A New Legacy” ($31 million debut).
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