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Why ‘Widows’ disappointed at box office: Analysis



Viola Davis in


  • “Widows,” a heist movie from “12 Years a Slave” director
    Steve McQueen starring Viola Davis, disappointed at the box
    office in its opening weekend with just $12 million.
  • Box-office experts agree that the movie should have been
    released on a different date outside of the busy November
  • A social-media analysis from Crimson Hexagon showed that
    online buzz around the movie had decreased dramatically since its
    first trailer debuted.


A studio heist thriller from an acclaimed director with a
powerhouse diverse cast, Steve McQueen’s “Widows” is the kind of
movie that audiences who clamor for original, well-made films
should have been lining up to see at the theater.

But the movie fell flat at the box
in its opening weekend with just $12 million (it cost
$42 million to make). It came in fifth, predictably behind the
latest movie in the blockbuster “Harry Potter” universe,
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”

Less predictable, though, was that it fell short of the other
major new release this weekend, the Mark Wahlberg-starring comedy
“Instant Family,” as well as the Freddie Mercury-biopic “Bohemian
Rhapsody” and “The Grinch,” which held strong in their third and
second weekends, respectively.

READ MORE: How ‘Venom’ scored one of the
biggest superhero-movie openings ever in China

So what went wrong with “Widows”? It stars Oscar winner Viola
Davis and audience favorite Liam Neeson, along with Colin
Farrell, “Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya, and more. It’s an action
movie wrapped in a tale of corruption that’s politically and
socially relevant. And yet, it didn’t find an audience.

A social-media analysis conducted by consumer-insights
Crimson Hexagon for Business Insider found
that social media buzz around the film during its opening weekend
was subpar, especially compared to when its first trailer debuted
on June 4. At that time, the movie generated over 26,000 posts on
Twitter and Instagram, according to Crimson Hexagon, and under
10,000 posts on Friday when it debuted.

A chart from Crimson Hexagon showing the data is below:



Interest in the film obviously decreased between June and now,
and that could be attributed to a marketing problem.’s Doug Stone said the movie was primarily
marketed toward African American audiences even though the film
is “really not ethnically unidirectional.”

“While this type of marketing thrust isn’t a bad thing in
and of itself for the appropriate product, the film perhaps
should have been marketed to cross over to a broader audience,”
Stone told Business Insider.

Exhibitor Relations senior box-office analyst Jeff Bock said that
Fox, the studio behind the movie, didn’t make a smart call
opening “Widows” up against Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts” (the
good news, though, is that Fox released “Bohemian Rhapsody”
earlier this month, which has made over $380 million worldwide).
“Fantastic Beasts” overshadowed “Widows” online, as well.
According to Crimson Hexagon’s analysis, the former generated
over 157,000 Twitter and Instagram posts over the weekend.

Stone agreed that the film’s release date in the midst of a
jam-packed schedule wasn’t favorable, and said that it would have
fared better opening later in the year.

“The consensus among theatre exhibitors is that the 11/2 –
11/21 period is very much overloaded with product,” Stone

Its mature themes and R rating limited its appeal, too, and Stone
said “that may have been a detriment during this particular
time frame” when more family-friendly options are in

READ MORE: The American flag controversy
surrounding ‘First Man’ isn’t the reason it’s struggling at the
box office

“Widows” also highlights a trend in recent months of
audiences ignoring critical reviews. Poorly-reviewed films, like
“The Nun,” “Venom,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” have all
exceeded expectations at the box office, despite subpar or even
abysmal reviews. On the flip side, audiences ignored “Widows”
despite its impressive 91% Rotten Tomatoes critic score. The same
can be said of critically acclaimed films like “First Man” and
“Suspiria,” which failed to generate excitement among general


All of this is why a rebound for “Widows” is hard to
predict. Oscar buzz and good word of mouth could benefit the
movie in the long run, as well as this weekend’s holiday,
according to Stone. But a lack of interest now despite plenty of
critical buzz might not bode well for that prospect,

“User ratings were not stellar with it showing 66% on
Rotten Tomatoes,” Stone said. ” The Metacritic response was
somewhat better, but the Cinemascore was a B. That is not a great
result. IMDb responses put it as above average but not in the
good category.”

“We’ll have to wait and see how it performs this week
before we make any long term judgments,” Bock said.

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