When you first heard that Universal Studios was planning on making a movie out of the classic board game Battleship, what was your immediate reaction? Bewilderment? Confusion? Cruel laughter? That was pretty much the feeling that everyone had, and yet the studio pressed on, hiring Liam Neeson, Rihanna and Taylor Kitsch in leading roles and dropping an astronomical amount of money on special effects, presumably in the hopes that movie goers would be too enraptured with all the shiny CGI to realize that the film’s base concept is both utterly baffling and an incredibly cynical attempt to pry open the wallets of unsuspecting movie patrons.
Much to the comfort of anyone who holds out hope for humanity however, it seems that the masses collectively turned up their noses at the film, and its US debut this past weekend was monumentally catastrophic. According to Deadline’s tally, the film pulled in just $25.3 million — barely one-tenth of its budget. By comparison, Marvel’s objectively excellent The Avengers raked in another $55.6 million, despite having been in US theaters for nearly a month.
For those keeping score at home, that figure officially gives Battleship the record for the lowest opening weekend ever seen by a film that cost more than $200 million to make.
In somewhat positive news however, the studio was wise enough to release the film overseas prior to its US debut, and since the bad word of mouth that seemingly sunk the film here in The States wasn’t yet in place for foreign audiences, Battleship has reclaimed its $209 million budget, but only just barely. It’s certainly not the spectacular, franchise-spawning success that producers and director Peter Berg were hoping for.
As to why the film failed, we offer this quote from our very own review that, while short, does a pretty solid job of summing up the entire experience:
Battleship is not a good film. It is not a clever film, and the explosions are not all that spectacular. The acting is also painfully bad on almost every level.
The cumulative review system at Rotten Tomatoes seems to concur, as Battleship currently sports a pitiful 35-percent rating.
Given that we all expected a film based on a board game to be a spectacular failure, this isn’t really news, but there are two very important reasons why we’ve created the story you’re currently reading. First, schadenfreude. Who doesn’t like having their pre-conceived notions utterly and undeniably verified by the cold fist of capitalist reality?
Second, and more importantly, we’re holding out hope that Battleship’s failure will convince Hollywood that films based on board games are a terrible idea. Universal has an utterly baffling film based on the Ouija board phenomenon scheduled to hit theaters in 2013, and honestly we can’t even imagine how one creates a plot based entirely on an inanimate piece of cardboard. Yet, they’ll try, and that’s why they go home to multi-million dollar mansions in Malibu while the rest of us eat dog food in cardboard shanty towns.