This summer movie season has been a very mixed bag in terms of movies and their success. Sure, many of the blockbusters have enjoyed big box office, but the amount of flops coming out are really starting to stack up. Perhaps the most surprising of all of these bombs arrived over the 4th of July weekend in the form of The BFG, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and released by Disney. So, what does that mean for the diretor and his first time collaboration with the usually successful studio?
According to Box Office Mojo, The BFG has pulled in an abysmal $26 million at the domestic box office thus far, and the overall outlook is grim. The movie carried a very hefty $140 million price tag, and that doesn’t even account for the advertising budget. No matter how anyone looks at it, the movie will serve as a substantial bomb. A flop like this would normally be a monumental disaster, but this is Spielberg and Disney. Ultimately, this flop won’t be nearly as big of a deal as everyone is making it out to be. Here is why.
First off, The BFG still has a lot of international markets that it needs to open in. Movies like Warcraft have taught us just how important international box office is these days. That isn’t to say that The BFG is going to crush overseas in the same way, but it isn’t hard to imagine that the movie will make its budget back and then some by the end of its run overall. So, the term flop becomes relative. Yes, one might have expected that Disney and Spielberg teaming up would have equated to swimming pools full of money for all, but just because a movie doesn’t live up to the lofty expectations that may have been placed on it doesn’t mean it winds up being a total failure in terms of dollars and cents, at least in the long run.
The BFG is a well liked movie. It currently has a very fine 71 percent critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and there isn’t any negative buzz surrounding it. There are just far too many movies out right now and it has led to the the snake eating its own tail, so to speak. Finding Dory took the box office crown for a third week in a row and that was a win for Disney, but much of the same audience who would go watch a Pixar movie also would have went to see The BFG on a different weekend. But with Spielberg’s name on The BFG and the fact that it is not considered to be a bad movie will lead to the movie doing well in the long run. It will surely find a nice home on VOD and Blu-ray once it comes out. Also, there is no doubt that it will do great on Netflix and find an audience there. The point is, the movie will eventually become profitable for Disney and is another good movie under Spielberg’s belt. A home run? Absolutely not, but this is by no means the disaster that some are trying to make it out to be.
Nobody in Disney’s shoes would have passed on the opportunity to make this movie. Spielberg may very well go down as the greatest director of all-time, and the studio finally had an opportunity to partner with him. The BFG was based on a very well liked children’s book, and the movie felt like a return to the classic Amblin days for Spielberg. There is no question that on paper, this movie was getting made. And given the long-term financial prospects for The BFG, it’s not like the top brass at Disney is going to lose a lot of sleep over the lackluster box office. Sure, they would have loved it to do better, but the movie will serve as something of a legacy piece and will be something they are probably proud to have on their library shelf.
As for Spielberg specifically, does one flop that isn’t a total disaster really alter his career path all that much? Absolutely not. He just started production on Ready Player One, which on paper at least seems like it will be a true-blue return to form of classic Spielberg blockbuster filmmaking. There is almost no universe in which Ready Player One becomes a major flop, unless somehow Spielberg really botches it, which, given his track record, isn’t very likely. He has also already announced that he will be directing Indiana Jones 5 with Harrison Ford returning as well. Even though Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was less than great, it still made a truckload of money, and you can bet that Spielberg won’t make the same mistakes twice. Disney is also in charge of that project, so all is going to be well on that side of things.
If The BFG had been made by a lesser filmmaker or put out by a less prolific studio, it might be a big concern. But Disney is dominating the worldwide box office and can afford for a movie here or there to not run away with it at the box office. Spielberg is a massive talent and odds are, The Big Friendly Giant might not have been made at all were it not for him championing the project. At the end of the day, Steven Spielberg is still easily one of the best directors working today, and nobody is going to write him off just because he made a good movie that just got dealt a bad hand at the box office. He will be fine, and we are going to get a lot more (hopefully) great Spielberg movies in the future.