This past weekend wasn't a pretty one for Ben-Hur. Sure, the sword and sandals flick had the benefit of riding on the coattails of one the most beloved epic films created to date, but it also had the handicap of riding on the coattails of one of the most beloved epic films created to date. In addition, the film came after a string of several fails within the same genre, which only spells greater disaster for any other future sword and sandals movies.
But how much of a disaster was Ben-Hur, given that it's already being coined as perhaps the biggest flop of the year?
As we know, the film was made on a budget that ran north of $100 million, and in its opening weekend, it only managed to recoup $11.2 million, a little more than one-tenth of its budget. Keep in mind, this doesn't even take into account the cost of marketing, and as a general rule of thumb marketing cost usually matches pretty closely to the overall budget of a picture (e.g., we can likely expect the marketing budget of this one to be $100 million, making the overall cost of the film $200 million -- in theory), though of course this is only a rule of thumb, not a law. But all in all, rival studios put the break-even point for Ben-Hur at around $250 million worldwide.
Given the lackluster opening, THR speculates that Ben-Hur will ultimately end its theater run at around $30 million, still only about one-third of its budget, and less than one-sixth of its overall costs (and this isn't even taking into account that the studio doesn't see 100% of the money from ticket sales). All in all, it looks to have been a bad investment for Paramount Pictures and MGM, and rival studios believe when all said and done, the film will lose $100 million.
THR is quick to point out that sources close to the film believe that the number is closer to $60 million or $75 million, once you take home releases into account.
Another variable mentioned is the foreign box office, which is speculated to potentially take in around $100 million. The only problem with that, however, is that it's not clear just how much the studios themselves will take in from those numbers.
While I never believed the film would do fantastically at the box office, this does come especially surprising, given the Jesus Christ connection Ben-Hur has. In recent years, faith-based films have gone on to do very well in ticket sales, and I'm a bit shocked that this community didn't come out to support the movie. This is especially surprising given that the movie's backers pushed that angle quite heavily. If you take a look at the second trailer for the film, they do a good job at throwing Jesus right in the face of viewers.
All in all, however, it's worth nothing that the general reception of the movie wasn't great, and it seems to prove the point that in order for a movie to succeed, it helps if the movie is a good one.
What are your thoughts on Ben-Hur's failure at the box office? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!
Ben-Hur is out in theaters now!
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