'A Wrinkle in Time' it's flaming out by the unexpected strength of 'Black Panther
Walt Disney's A Wrinkle in Time was the top newbie of the weekend, even if it placed second to Black Panther's fourth weekend. But rank is less important than raw grosses, and the film's $33.3 million Fri-Sun frame has to be classified as a disappointment.
If it's lucky, it'll leg it out like the other March Disney biggies (Alice in Wonderland, Oz: The Great and Powerful, etc.) and make it to $97m domestic. If it's not lucky, it'll flameout like Where the Wild Things Are which snagged a $32m debut weekend but then ended with just $77m domestic in late 2009.
The Ava DuVernay-directed fantasy cost $103 million to produce, and it was the second time that a female director of color had such a large budget at her disposal, following only Jennifer Yuh Nelson's Kung Fu Panda 2 in 2011.
DuVernay filled the screen with the sort of actors and actresses (Storm Reid, Deric McCabe, Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, etc.) who don't usually get to headline a big-scale studio blockbuster.
The unfortunate irony is that it was hampered by the unexpected post-debut strength of Walt Disney's Black Panther, another big Disney flick helmed by a black filmmaker and filled with a majority-minority cast.
Much of the conversation around the film's performance will concern the film as a proverbial test-case for a big-budget fantasy flick starring women of varying races. However, the extent to which it's a disappointment may be more complicated than folks (again) not putting their money where their mouth is.
First, the reviews were mixed-negative, and while that may not have scared off the kid audiences (especially demographics wanting to see a big-screen hero who looked like them), it didn't help with the sort of adults who not routinely flock to would-be tentpoles alongside the family audiences.
Second, this wasn't a conventional action-packed thrill ride, but something closer in spirit to Tomorrowland. Speaking of which, we should note that Brad Bird's original fantasy flick cost $190m in 2015.
Third, as much as we like to talk about Walt Disney as if they are this invincible blockbuster machine, they have struggled to create new franchises as much as anyone.
Sure, they kick butt when it comes to Marvel, Lucasfilm, their animated output and the "live-action adaptation of an animated classic" sub-genre, but otherwise, they have struggled.
Their attempts to recreate the success of Pirates of the Caribbean led to whiffs like Prince of Persia, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, John Carter and The Lone Ranger.
Non-IP like Finest Hours and Queen Of Katwe stumbled in 2016. When you discuss big-budget, live-action would-be franchises, they haven't had a huge non-sequel hit not based on one of their animated flicks since National Treasure in 2004.