UK Box Office Breakdown: Speed Racer Tanks

Wachowski bro's latest first casualty of the summer season.

by | May 14, 2008 | Comments

Cripes! The bloodthirsty summer movie season has its first big-budget flop of the summer, and we’re only two weeks in. The disappointment, no scrap that, disaster in question is the Wachowski brother latest effort Speed Racer, which had designs on taking Iron Man‘s top spot, but instead, only came in a lowly fourth…

Getting piped to the post by Jon Favreau’s comic adaptation, which has found a huge audience thanks to a combination of a charismatic, likeable leading man and a fizzy, funny tone, is not unexpected. But limping in behind the likes of What Happens in Vegas… and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which has been on release for three weeks) represents a shocking return for the iconoclastic directorial siblings and uber-producer Joel Silver. In fact, the film made less than a £800per screen – pretty shocking compared to the £3500+ raked in by Iron Man.

So what went wrong? Well, the mixed reviews certainly didn’t help; whilst many admired the delirious, barmy visual stylings of the film, many more were annoyed by the less-than-complex plot and characterisation and general cartoony tone (with some hacks obviously forgetting it was based on a Japanese anime and was made for kids…).

We think however it may have been Warner Brother’s marketing strategy for the movie, with the studio targeting too broad a base and ultimately capturing no-ones imagination. Traditional fans of the Wachowski’s previous effort The Matrix trilogy were almost certainly put off by the Speed Racers more childish moments (forum monkeys have been ‘flaming’ the film and giving it ‘bad buzz’ for months), while maybe not enough was done to woo the film’s natural audience — families with pre-teen kids. Indeed a summer or Easter holiday release would have perhaps been a better bet for the film’s chances… too late now of course.

Elsewhere another similarly-hard-to-market film also made a disappointing run at the British public, with Neil Marshall‘s Doomsday also failing to garner much interest from Joe Public. The director of top horror flicks the Descent and Dog Soldiers was given more money for his latest effort, but many thought he wasted it on a collection of flashy set pieces with out much interlinking plot in between. This post-apocalyptic tale, which borrowed liberally from Mad Max, Escape from New York and many more, only made it to sixth place in the charts.

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