Many studios prefer to sound the triumphal horn when they take the stage at CinemaCon.
Give Universal and Chairman Adam Fogelson credit for candor and for not hiding from one of the company's highest profile flops. The studio chief admitted to laughter from exhibitors attending the annual theater owner trade show in Las Vegas on Tuesday that "Battleship" fell far short of expectations.
Fogelson said that the studio fully expected the adaptation of the Hasbro board game to be one of the biggest films of 2012. The reality was quite different. Filmed for more than $200 million with untold millions more spent to market the picture around the world, "Battleship" eked out roughly $65 million domestically. It was only spared from being a total catastrophe by a healthy foreign gross of $237.6 million.
Though Fogelson admitted the failure was bruising, he claimed (at least publicly) that Universal did not engage in "finger-pointing" in the wake of the flop. He went on to add that the studio continues to be in business with the film's director, Peter Berg.
"We believe in Peter Berg as a filmmaker," Fogelson said.
Berg's next film "Lone Survivor" will be released by Universal. It stars Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch, the once-promising actor whose star was derailed by the twin bombs of "Battleship" and "John Carter" last year.
Fogelson promised that the story of a Navy SEAL team capturing a dangerous Taliban leader will be "soulful" and "gritty." It also hits the screen without any board game pedigree.