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.