Get ready for promos pushing “The #1 Movie In America Is The Call Of The Wild“! Because it looks like Call will “win” the weekend box office with around $26 million (and even if it slips to #2, close enough). Worth celebrating for Fox/Disney/Disney/Fox/Disney?
The real story is that Call is a disaster. It’s not that the movie is bad, it’s actually decent. Perfectly likable, with a middling (but not terrible) 64 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. But come on – it’s more like Call Of The Mild.
The movie, faithfully and lovingly based on the acclaimed novel by Jack London, simply should have been made for about 20 million. Instead, the reported budget is 135 million, and that’s before advertising costs which put it closer to 200. So despite the big weekend win, it’s a big loser.
Why so expensive to make? A lot of CGI (including a purely digital lead dog – no, not Harrison Ford – he’s still human for now). Honestly I don’t know what else made it cost so much. But it’s just stupid.
It was apparently greenlit by Fox execs after the ship hit the iceberg and they all knew there weren’t enough Disney lifeboats so a lot of people were gonna die. They just started saying yes to everything and handing out contracts and deals to everyone because fuck it, right? Why be responsible when it’s way more fun to say “Fuck you, Disney!” Besides, there would be other lifeboats for the top execs. There always are. Because Hollywood never holds anyone accountable once they rise to a certain level of success. The same people move from boat to boat and when they smash it into an iceberg they just jump to another boat.
But here’s why Disney should really be pissed. Here’s why Call makes no sense at all at that price tag. It qualified as a good adventure story in the 1890s. By today’s standards, it’s just not that exciting. You see more thrilling stuff on Nat Geo and Discovery channels – and even that stuff is far from being big screen entertainment.
In today’s world, The Call Of The Wild is a story to be told on the small screen. If only there were streaming services. Oh, right.
And if you’re going to be stupid and put it in movie theaters, you HAVE to have a low budget. Otherwise it can’t make money. And don’t be fooled by that decent-sounding 26 million opening number – Disney spent HARD with it’s promo budget to goose that number. Because now they can at least put a “it wasn’t a bomb at all, see??” spin on it. Which actually matters more than the reality. Which is that it bombed.
It’s hard to feel sorry for Disney. Especially their arrogant marketing team which gets to feed off giant pre-sold brands like Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars all the time. Not to mention the pre-sold Disney branded remakes constantly. Notice how great they are without those brands? Pretty average at best. And they’ve done absolutely nothing with the (admittedly mostly bad) slate of Fox films so far.
But I do feel bad for Disney in this case. Because Fox went out of it’s way to fuck them.
And got away with it.