The Robert Zemeckis-directed Welcome to Marwen has bombed at the holiday weekend box office with just $2.4 million and is expected to lose backer Universal Pictures upwards of $50 million or more, according to THR.
The PG-13 drama, inspired by real events and 2010 documentary Marwencol, has tied with Johnny Knoxville’s late summer release Action Point for the worst opening for a major Hollywood release in 2018, failing to reach even $3 million across 1,191 theaters.
Welcome to Marwen was rejected by audiences and mauled by critics, earning a dismal 27% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film is expected to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million for Universal and partners DreamWorks Pictures, Perfect World Pictures and Zemeckis’ ImageMovers. THR sources put Marwen’s budget at $49 million before advertising; Universal insiders say the budget is instead “around $40 million.”
Universal hoped to serve up Marwen as a quieter alternative to this weekend’s blockbuster-level releases, namely Warner Bros.’ DC Comics adaptation Aquaman, Paramount’s Transformers spinoff Bumblebee, Disney’s family musical Mary Poppins Returns, and Sony’s animated superhero and critical darling Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — all of which are faring well with critics and audiences alike.
The dramedy tells the real-life story of Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell), who suffers a devastating beating from a pack of white supremacists and suffers amnesia as a result. In an attempt to reclaim his memories, Hogancamp creates an immersive and miniature World War II village — dubbed Marwen — where his doll-sized counterpart heroically battles Nazis while Hogancamp must find the strength to testify against his attackers.
Aside from Illumination’s animated Benedict Cumberbatch starrer The Grinch, Universal hasn’t enjoyed the holiday moviegoing success of its counterparts, following the failures of dramedy Green Book and the bombing of Mortal Engines. The latter, produced by The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit filmmaker Peter Jackson, is teed up to lose Universal and MRC upwards of $125 million or more.
As noted by THR, Marwen brings the Back to the Future and Forrest Gump director his lowest-grossing film since his first two films: 1978’s I Wanna Hold Your Hand and 1980’s Used Cars. Marwen also gives Carell his worst nationwide opening domestically.
Carell, who was nominated for Best Actor for his role in 2014’s Foxcatcher, has otherwise enjoyed critical acclaim in 2018 on the backs of Battle of the Sexes, Beautiful Boy and Vice.