Peter Jackson fantasy epic 'Mortal Engines' could lose over $100 million after flopping hard at the box office its opening weekend

Universal‘Mortal Engines.’
  • Universal’s $US100-million-plus CGI spectacle “Mortal Engines” earned only $US42.3 million worldwide over the weekend.
  • With that kind of weak performance, the Peter Jackson-produced movie is poised to lose the studio up to $US150 million, according to Deadline.

Apparently no one wants to go to the movies and see a CGI spectacle in which London is on wheels eating up other cities.

That is the premise of “Mortal Engines,” a postapocalyptic action-thriller Universal released over the weekend on more than 3,000 screens. But unless you were looking very hard, you probably didn’t even know it was in theatres.

With very little marketing put toward this film adaptation of the Philip Reeve books, produced by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, it was evident Universal was preparing for a big loss on this one. And it looks like it will likely be over $US100 million.

Opening over the weekend with just a $US7.5 million domestic take ($US42.3 million worldwide), Deadline is tracking the $US110-million-plus budgeted “Mortal Engines” to lose the studio around $US105 million. But that could go as high as $US150 million after factoring in all the ancillary deals it won’t make much on in the coming year.

Read more: ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ scores biggest opening weekend ever for an animated movie in December

Despite the “Mortal Engines” books being nowhere near as known a property as “Lord of the Rings,” Universal was betting on moviegoers being intrigued by a project that had Jackson’s name on it. Sadly, for the studio, they weren’t.

And because of the movie’s release date in the crowded December market, the studio isn’t going to get much help from exhibitors.

With “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Aquaman,” and “Bumblebee” all opening this week – and Universal’s Steve Carell release, “Welcome to Marwen,” out in theatres Friday – there are only so many screens on which theatres are going to keep “Mortal Engines.” (Universal also has holdovers “The Grinch” and “Green Book,” an Oscar contender, still going strong at the box office.)

So, expect this movie to be gone from theatres as quickly as it appeared. But don’t cry for Universal. The studio is having another strong year at the domestic box office.

The studio is in second place behind Disney thanks to hits like “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” and “Halloween.”

Universal declined to comment.

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