Directed By: Michael Bay
Written By: remake with screenwriter Chris Fedak
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Domestic Distributor: Universal Pictures
Cast: Eiza Gonzalez, Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahua Abdul-Mateen II
Rated: R for intense violence; bloody images and language throughout.
Box Office Information
- Budget: $75,000,000
- Financed by: Endeavor Content, Bay Films, New Republic Pictures, Project X Entertainment, Universal Pictures
- Domestic Box Office Gross: $22,309,115
- Overseas Box Office Gross: 29,370,777
A decorated veteran and his adopted brother team up to rob a Los Angeles bank of $32 million to pay for his wife’s medical bills.
A police officer and an EMT are being transported to the hospital in an ambulance that the desperate thieves steal when their escape goes horribly wrong.
It is imperative that the two siblings escape while protecting their hostages in this high-speed chase.
Flop or Fetish?
The reason you’re reading this review under ‘Box Office Flops’ is not because ‘Ambulance’ is a bad movie that audiences avoided like income tax. Or because the critics turned up their noses at it. Director Michael Bay has said he wanted to make a ‘small movie.’ Well, he made one. And small movies attract small audiences. Besides, the small movie mentality really doesn’t work for a chase movie – and Ambulance is nothing if not a glorified, long drawn-out, chase movie. It’s like expecting to bottle a fine wine from a single raisin; there’s no room for modesty in wine making or in movie making. High octane cannot be achieved on a 40 million dollar budget, which the publicity people for this particular movie tried to turn into selling point for audiences: “Hey, come and see this chase film that was so inexpensively done! You’ll love it!”
Besides which, chase movies are hard to pull off even for expert and innovative directors like Bay. One needs only to look back on the granddaddy of all chase films, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Made in 1963 by director Stanley Kramer, there is no way to describe the film except to call it ‘lumbering.’ It lumbers for nearly three hours in cars and airplanes and boats. There is speed but little inspiration. Everyone has a lead foot, and also a lead hand – in other words, it’s heavy-handed.
Now if you want to see a chase that IS a chase, there are two films from the silent era that fill the bill. First, Harold Lloyd’s ‘Girl Shy’ from 1924, and then Buster Keaton’s ‘Seven Chances’ from 1925.
These are comic chase films, of course, but Lloyd and Keaton are deadly serious, just as serious as Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Whether they are chasing or being chased, the two comic masters contrive to draw the audience completely into their desperation and determination. The reason for said chases is fantastic and ridiculous, of course, and yet audiences to this day cannot help perching on the edge of their seats in suspense and amazement as Lloyd and Keaton blaze across the screen at the speed of cinema light. When these two films are shown at revivals, the audience leaves the theater both exhausted and exhilarated – having seen what acrobatic and technical marvels a man can wrought when he’s in flight from peril.
Audiences escaping from ‘Ambulance’ may feel some of that same kind of exhaustion, but it’s the kind of weariness one feels after getting a tooth extracted. ‘Ambulance’ is a movie that is endured more than it is enjoyed.
The many technical innovations the movie plays with can be enjoyed at home on the plasma screen. So it seems safe to say that the film will come close to recouping its cost through DVD and streaming sales. But at the box office, the film is DOA.
Box Office Numbers
With a production budget unannounced, a worldwide box office percent is unavailable for the production budget, Ambulance took $22,309,115 domestically and grossed $29,370,777 overseas at the box office.
Ambulance played in 3412 theaters and took $8,699,630 (39.0%of total gross) in its opening weekend.
The film played to a total of 3412 theaters domestically and took a domestic share of some 43.2%.
Having ranked 4th in its opening weekend, Ambulance plummeted to 7th in its second weekend – running for a total of 7 weeks, with an average weekend domestic gross per theater of $1411 based on a 3.3 weeks average run per theater.
Ambulance was released to a total of 69 countries internationally, with the main markets being Saudi Arabia with a lifetime gross of $2,807,000, Mexico, with a lifetime gross of $2,489,501 , and China, lifetime gross of $2,413,833. There was a $0 market in 19 countries opening in 0 theaters at each. 12 more countries opened in under 20 theaters averaging under 2,200 to $32,000 gross sales.