‘Gods of Egypt’ Takes Big-Budget Bath at Box Office

Lionsgate’s $140 million fantasy epic is defiled in debut by three-time champ “Deadpool”

For “Gods of Egypt,” the big-budget swords-and-sandals epic from Summit and Lionsgate, there were no miracles at the box office.

The Alex Proyas-directed action fantasy, which has a steep $140 million production budget, took in just $14 million and finished a distant second to Fox’s foul-mouth superhero “Deadpool” and became the biggest flop of the young year.

The raunchy Ryan Reynolds romp took in $31.5 million to lift its domestic haul to $285 million and its worldwide gross more than $550 million. In the process it became the third-highest grossing R-rated movie ever, behind only 2004’s “The Passion of the Christ” ($371 million) and 2014’s “American Sniper” ($350 million), according to Box Office Mojo.

The weekend’s two other openers, Open Road’s crime thriller “Triple 9” and Fox’s feel-good family film “Eddie the Eagle,” both took in around $6 million. They finished behind Dreamworks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 3” with $9 million and Sony’s faith-fueled Bible drama “Risen,” which took in $7 million.

“Gods of Egypt,” which stars Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, won’t be a financial disaster for Lionsgate, since nearly half of the production cost of its pricey pyramid play was covered in tax credits by the Australian government. Foreign foreign licensing deals lowered the studio’s exposure to between $10 million and $15 million, but there was a proportionally sized market budget, too.

All that means its overseas performance will ultimately determine if it can get into the black for the studio and producers Basil Iwanyk and Proyas. It took in $24 million from 68 markets this weekend.

Bad buzz over its essentially all-white and historically incorrect casting — and a subsequent apology from the studio and director — clearly took a toll.  So did the beating the effects-laden epic has taken from the critics, dashing the hopes once held by the studio that it could be a franchise that would help make up for the loss of “The Hunger Games.”

“Gods of Egypt” was at a dismal 11 percent “fresh” on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes on Sunday, and soft-grading first-night audiences — 53 percent male and 70 percent over 25 — were equally unimpressed, giving it a “B-” CinemaScore.

Neither “Triple 9” nor “Eddie the Eagle” made a major splash. But Open Road’s ensemble heist drama carries a $20 million price tag, and producer Matthew Vaughn‘s tale of the British Olympic ski jump hero cost just $23 million, and both could be around awhile.

“Eddie the Eagle,” starring Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken, received an “A” CinemaScore, even better than the 72 percent positive rating critics have given it on Rotten Tomatoes, from audiences that broke down evenly gender-wise and were 75 percent over the age of 25.

The film’s 43 percent Friday to Saturday increase is well-above norm for the genre as well, noted Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson, all of which adds up to hopes for a sold run over the next few weeks.

“Triple 9” is directed by John Hillcoat and features Casey Affleck, Gal Gadot, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Kate Winslet and Chiwetel Ejiofor. It received a “B” CinemaScore and is at 55 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes.

Several holdover films held very well. “The Revenant dropped 294 theaters and still fellow off just two percent, not doubt lifted by fans wanting to catch it before Sunday night Academy Awards, at which the Leonardo DiCaprio vengeance talek is a favorite for Best Picture.

“Kung Fu Panda 3” was off just 28 percent despite losing 153 locations, and the rom-com “How to Be Single” fell off just 37 percent despite dropping 310 locations. “Risen” dropped off 41 percent in its second weekend, while A24’s “The Witch” took in $5 million from 2,204 sites –up 158 locations — for a 43 percent falloff.  That’s very strong for a horror film, which are typically very front-loaded. The Jesse Owens biopic “Race” dropped 43 percent in its second week for Focus Features.

The overall box office ran about six percent ahead of the comparable weekend last year, when Will Smith‘s “Focus” was No. 1 with $18.6 million.

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