Mortal, indeed. The Peter Jackson-produced Mortal Engines, a young adult steampunk fantasy movie in which cities are built atop giant vehicles, could be one the biggest failures of the year in movies. Industry analysts project the movie could lose up to $100 million for Universal Studios, with some estimates as high as $125 million.
On a budget north of $100 million, Mortal Engines only earned about $7 million its opening weekend in the United States. Worldwide, it’s only brought in $42 million. The movie is yet to be released in China (or even given a release date in China), but with advertising costs atop its nine-figure expense, this is sure to be a major loss either way. (h/t Variety)
Engines, produced and co-written by Jackson, boasts impressive visual effects, but it didn’t earn much praise besides. It was a marketing challenge, too, with no major stars to lead the promotional material and a plot that took a bit too much explaining to create instant appeal (basically, a post-apocalyptic world is marked by giant “predator cities” that cruise around on wheels and swallow up smaller cities to take their resources).
It didn’t help that the movie didn’t generate any critical buzz, either. It boasts just a 28 percent on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes. Movies can bomb with critics and still find commercial love — just ask Venom — but a little film nerd hype never hurt. Especially in the case of Mortal Engines, which needed all the help it could get.
Jackson reportedly hoped to turn Mortal Engines into another big-budget fantasy franchise, but with these returns, that’s extremely unlikely. The movie joins Robin Hood and The Nutcracker as some of the biggest flops of 2018.