Friday, June 21, 2024

Box Office: Steven Spielberg Has Disastrous Opening With “The BFG”


You’d have to go back a long way in the Steven Spielberg canon to find a worse marketed, lousy opening for one of his films as “The BFG” has just had. It just shows you, you can be the most famous director in the world and it still doesn’t matter if the studio isn’t behind you.

On Friday “The BFG” made $7 million. Movie trackers were spot on predicting a $21 million weekend (three days), with $24 mi by end of July 4th. “The BFG” cost $140 million.

This was the fourth film in a row that Spielberg has released through Disney/Buena Vista. War Horse, Lincoln, Bridge of Spies preceded it. Of those three, only “Lincoln” was a bona fide hit although “Bridge of Spies,” at least was Oscar nominated and Mark Rylance won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Everything about “The BFG” pointed to success. The Roald Dahl book is beloved. Spielberg brought the movie to Cannes, where it had a very positive launch. But post-Cannes, “The BFG” was MIA. It all but disappeared. Even a 72 on Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t enough to compel Disney to really market the film. A couple of days ago, my dry cleaner asked me about the upcoming weekend movies. He hadn’t even heard of “The BFG.” That says a lot.

It’s too bad. I wrote from Cannes that I thought Spielberg had captured the energy and essence of “ET.” I still feel that way and will pay to see it again (we had no screening in NY). Maybe word of mouth will push it along. But it could be that Disney has become so used to touting Marvel and animation and sequels, what was needed for “The BFG” just didn’t happen.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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