Warner Brothers is set to lose up to $150 million with its flop fantasy film “Pan,” which opened in theatres Oct. 9. The film, with a $150 million budget plus a massive advertising campaign, bombed its opening weekend, placing third with $15.3 million. To put that into perspective, “Jurassic World” (which also had a $150 million budget) made $208.8 million in its opening weekend — the biggest debut ever.
“Pan” plummeted over 60 percent to sixth place in its second weekend. Based on early projections, it will make $26 million in North America when it wraps up its run in theaters. It’s not doing well internationally either, so far making less than $50 million.
All in all, “Pan” will likely end up with a worldwide total of less than $150 million, a massive loss compared to its production budget, which does not even include the $125 million spent on advertising. Generally, film studios only earn about 55 percent of what their films gross — the rest goes to the movie theaters. To break even, “Pan” would have had to make $500 million globally.
This massive flop must be hard for Warner Bros., which has struggled to find a new family franchise after the original “Harry Potter” series ended in 2011 (they’re returning to the “Potter” universe in 2016 with spin-off “Fantastic Beasts”). It’s also their third major money-loser in 2015, after the failures of “Jupiter Ascending” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” which both lost an excess of $100 million. Clearly, “Pan” will not be the new “Harry Potter.”
Critics pounced on “Pan” as well — it has a mere 26 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Rolling Stone called it a “theme-park ride from hell.” “Hectic and labored,” The New York Times said of the film. One of the more positive reviews came from The Boston Globe, which labelled “Pan” as “passable.” The general critical consensus, however, can be summed up by the Chicago Tribune, whose critic called it “the worst-ever Peter Pan film adaptation of any sort. And that includes ‘Hook.’”
“Pan” attempted to follow in the footsteps of Disney’s recent live-action adaptations of old fairy tales, which are trash but have made bucket loads of money. Starting in 2010 with “Alice in Wonderland,” Disney’s new versions of “The Wizard of Oz,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Cinderella” have made at least $200 million just at the domestic box office, a number “Pan” won’t even touch on a global scale. While the Disney adaptations are pretty lackluster themselves, save for Saint Angelina Jolie’s performance in “Maleficent,” none had the egregiously poor creative decisions that Warner Bros. made on behalf of “Pan.”
The most glaring mistake was the decision to cast a white person as Neverland’s most well-known “Indian princess” — Tiger Lily. Yes, instead of trying to get some positive American Indian representation in modern American cinema, Warner Bros. decided to go with a woman whose family has bought her entire career. Rooney Mara, who “felt really bad” about being cast as Tiger Lily even though she still accepted a paycheck, belongs to the families that founded the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers. If anyone was looking for an example of white privilege and whitewashing, this casting decision by Warner Bros. would be it.
Then again, the portrayal of American Indians in “Peter Pan” has always been incredibly racist. Maybe it would have been a good idea to just leave this particular fairytale in the past?
The plot itself looks like it was written by an overly ambitious college freshmen. With these modern, unnecessary fairytale twists, an origin story is about as original as the career of professional Mariah Carey impersonator, Ariana Grande. There was also the bafflingly ridiculous decision for the pirates to perform Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” halfway through the film. I’m not joking. This is actually in a $150 million blockbuster film that was set at least 70 years before that song came out.
“Pan” also offended people everywhere by having the nerve to make Australian god Hugh Jackman look ugly. No one wants to see Hugh Jackman looking ugly. Also, he played a pirate who was alive 200 years before “Pan” was supposed to have taken place. But as we’ve seen with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” logic and time continuity were not issues for the filmmakers of “Pan.” Neither was taste.
The final question to walk away with is this: who greenlit giving this movie a $150 million budget? Because I’m going to need them to fork over a couple million to remake “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” costarring Meryl Streep and Jessica Lange. Honestly, Warner Bros. gets what it deserves for making this mess of a film into a $150 million kick in the gut.