THE CALL OF THE WILD scored good news when its $24.8 million opening exceeded its box office tracking but that good news quickly turned sour when it was revealed that the film carried a reported budget of $125 million. The opening suddenly wasn’t a strong enough start for the pricey canine adventure & now it’s going to cost the studio some bucks.
The film, based on Jack London’s best-selling novel, has made $45 million in the U.S. and $79 million globally after two weeks in theaters. The result, given the film’s budget, isn’t going to be good for the Disney-owned 20th Century which is now reportedly going to lose around $50 million on the project. Box office analysts say the film needs to make between $250 million and $275 million worldwide to break even and that’s not looking like a likely scenario.
Disney is not hurting for money after having massive success in 2019 with AVENGERS: ENDGAME, CAPTAIN MARVEL, ALADDIN, THE LION KING, FROZEN II & STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER but since formally acquiring 20th Century Fox last year, Disney has also had a string of box office misfires. The company blamed the $170 million quarterly write-down back in August on X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX which cost $200 million to make and ended its run with a disappointing $250 million worldwide. Other acquired misses from the merger include STUBER and UNDERWATER.
Despite the underwhelming box office, THE CALL OF THE WILD seems to be liked by those who have seen it. The film received an “A-“ CinemaScore and received decent reviews from critics (62% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). The criticism of the film is the heavy use of CGI to create Harrison Ford’s canine companion and that’s likely where most of the $125 million budget went. Some critics have praised the look of the dog, even saying he was close to appearing like a real dog while others pointed out that he clearly looked like something clearly created via special effects. The studio has to be questioning if this was money well spent.
I haven’t had a chance to see THE CALL OF THE WILD but I do know that these big budget misfires are becoming more and more frequent. It has been a topic of conversation recently that mid-budget films appear to be a thing of the past in the industry but perhaps they should be explored more because these pricey box office disappointments can’t be good for studios.
Have YOU seen THE CALL OF THE WILD?