It seems as though not even happy thoughts and a sprinkling of fairy dust could prevent Pan from crash landing at the box office in its opening weekend in the US. According to the weekend figures at box office mojo, Joe Wright’s film only managed to muster up a disappointing $15.5 million, not what Warner Bros. Pictures would have been hoping for with the film’s production budget of $150 million.
Its meagre earnings have led to it having to settle for third place, behind The Martian in its second week and Hotel Transylvania 2 in its third. The film has not fared much better in other countries, with a worldwide total so far of $40.6 million. It is looking like a sure-fire loss for the studio, who will undoubtedly be reluctant to return to Neverland ever again.
It doesn’t help matters, nor does it bode well for its future financial success, that the film has been critically reviled, enabling film journalists everywhere to use the damning pun: “Pan’s been panned“. If film history has taught us anything, and by that I’m pretty much referring to Spielberg’s Hook, it’s that stories that try and extend the tale of J.M. Barrie’s boy who never grew up seldom work.
Pan sets itself up as a prequel to the classic story, looking at how Peter became Pan and how James Hook became Captain. It seems that the main problem, as discussed in this article from The Atlantic, is that audiences just don’t care about an origin story; they would much rather see an exciting retelling of the original, familiar novel.
Disney’s 1953 animated Peter Pan seems to be the only film adaptation that has got it right. With Disney currently going through and remaking their canon of traditionally animated films into live-action, maybe a straight retelling of Wendy’s first flight to Neverland is on the cards.