In a weekend dominated by news about health care, a fictional and stylized take on it was clearly not what audiences were looking for. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker’s science fiction thriller Repo Men disappointed with a 4th place finish at the box office. Hit the jump for the complete breakdown of this weekend’s box office figures.
BoxOfficeMojo is reporting that, even with a strong cast and intriguing futuristic visuals, Repo Men grossed $6.1 million at just over 2,500 theaters across the country. That was less than a third of Diary of a Wimpy Kid‘s $22.1 million, which had virtually no marketing to speak of. While it did gross $2 million more than Avatar, James Cameron’s epic has been in theaters for 14 weeks. With the next few weeks seeing the release of heavily marketed films like Hot Tub Time Machine and Clash of the Titans, Repo Men will be lucky to last 14 more days in theaters. In short, it will unlikely find its footing and mount any sort of prolonged box office run.
The lone saving grace for Repo Men is that despite the opening weekend disappointment, the film could theoretically still turn a profit. BoxOfficeMojo lists Repo Men’s production budget as only $32 million (not counting marketing costs). This is modest for the science fiction genre, and higher overseas grosses could leave studio execs seeing green in the end. But until this forecast comes to fruition, one could only conclude that unlike the current health care debate in the United States, Repo Men failed to drum up much interest.
On a more important level, Repo Men’s disappointment leaves me a little glum about future viral marketing campaigns. Dan’s review of the film shows that, despite an attempt to market to audiences virally, the film itself was mediocre at best, and not exactly worth the price of admission. Where does this leave the future of viral marketing? Will studios continue to commit resources to interactive online campaigns if their returns are going to be so meager? On the flip side, will audiences commit the time to viral campaigns if the end product isn’t worth their investment? It seems for every District 9, there is a Surrogates, 9, and now Repo Men. My fear isn’t that viral marketing doesn’t contribute to increased attendance, or that viral marketing will cease to exist. But film studios, like all businesses, are results (i.e. money) driven, and they may be turned off to comprehensive viral campaigns if current results are poor, even though the product (not the marketing) wasn’t good to begin with.
Did you see Repo Men over the weekend, or have thoughts about its opening weekend gross? Let us know in the comments section below.