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Dismal openings for 'Jupiter Ascending' and 'Seventh Son,' despite big stars and big budgets

(L-R) Actors Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean and David Ajala at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures'
(L-R) Actors Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean and David Ajala at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Jupiter Ascending."
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The film “Jupiter Ascending” is a sci-fi thriller featuring a character who’s been reincarnated. But there were no signs of life for the movie at the box office on its opening weekend.

Directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, the siblings behind the “Matrix” movies, “Jupiter Ascending” cost about $175 million to produce. But the Warner Bros film, which stars Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne, grossed a very weak  $18.4 million in its opening weekend.

And that wasn’t the only spectacular flop at the multiplex. The Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore medieval fantasy film, “Seventh Son,” sold an estimated $7 million in tickets for Universal Pictures.

Ben Fritz, who covers the movie business for the Wall Street Journal, spoke to The Frame's John Horn about the two debacles.


It's rare enough to have one epic bomb, but to have two epic bombs on the same weekend seems extraordinary.

I can't remember the last time two movies lost so much money so quickly, right on top of each other on the same weekend.

The Wachowskis have not done well on their last couple of films. Why do studios and investors keep betting on them?

That's a good question. This comes after "Cloud Atlas" did poorly. "Speed Racer" was a huge bomb. And don't forget, the third and final "Matrix" movie did pretty badly too.

You know, the first "Matrix" came out of nowhere and was such a huge hit, I guess there's some belief in Hollywood that they can find that magic again.

It also might be relevant that the executive who green-lit this movie, Jeff Robinov, who used to run Warner Bros, was [previously] an agent. And some of his early clients were the Wachowskis.

He's very close to them. He's obviously a big believer in them. Unfortunately, in this case [of "Jupiter Ascending"], it lost the company he used to work at a lot of money.

"Seventh Son" had a worse opening weekend, but it was less expensive to make than "Jupiter Ascending."

"Seventh Son? cost around $100 million to make. But it opened to $7 million, which is just a debacle. 

This movie has long been known as a very troubled film. It was delayed four times. It was supposed to come out originally in February of 2013. 

​Why were two expensive films, aimed at the same audience, released on the same day?

"Jupiter Ascending" was also delayed, though only once. It was supposed to come out last July...So, I think Warner Bros knew they had a project with some trouble on their hands, but they...knew [Universal's] "Seventh Son" was very troubled. I think their thought was, Well, "Seventh Son" is going to bomb, so maybe we can actually take advantage of that. But it ended up not working out for anybody.

We're in the middle of awards season, and both films star Oscar nominees. Does involvement in an epic bomb hurt an actors chance of winning an award in the same year?

I think it certainly can if there was bad buzz. But, I think in fairness to [Oscar nominees Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne], I think the vast majority of people, even in Hollywood, don't even know they're in these movies. And I think they're very happy for it to be that way.

You certainly didn't see Julianne Moore do any publicity for "Seventh Son" or Eddie Redmayne doing any interviews for "Jupiter Ascending." I think the upcoming Oscars are one good reason for that.

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