The post-apocalyptic title Mortal Engines had big aspirations coming into the holiday season, with its personal backing from Lord of the Rings and Hobbit megadirector Peter Jackson, direction from Jackson long-term collaborator Christian Rivers, and reported $100M budget.
Those hopes quickly came to a halt though with its domestic launch over the December 14 weekend, where it opened in fifth place with only $7M. That launch ranked it far below the weekend’s other major new openers Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse ($35M) and The Mule ($18M). Hell, it even opened below the already four and six-week old animated titles Ralph Breaks the Internet ($9M) and The Grinch ($12M):
|Rank||Film||Dec. 14-16 Gross|
|1||Into The Spider-Verse||$35,363,376|
|3||Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch||$11,753,665|
|4||Ralph Breaks the Internet||$9,274,018|
The rest of Mortal Engines’ box office run after its opening weekend wasn’t much better. The film was smothered by the heavy competition for big, family-friendly titles over the holiday. Between movies like Aquaman ($1B+ and counting), Bumblebee ($413M), Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse ($326M), and Mary Poppins Returns ($308M), all of which had great reviews and big brand appeal, there just wasn’t room for an ambivalently-at-best received movie from a book series few even remembered in the first place.
On Friday January 17, Mortal Engines finally ended its disappointing run with an official grand domestic total of $15,951,040. At just 35 days, its one of the shortest lengths of a theater run I’ve ever seen a blockbuster-budgeted film. It would get the dubious honor of having shortest run of any major movie released over this past holiday season…but that dubious honor instead goes to another Universal-created flop, Welcome to Marwen, which also closed that Friday, after just 28 days in theaters.