A Wrinkle In Time

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  • Directed By: Ava DuVernay
  • Written By: Jennifer Lee
  • Release Date: March 9, 2018
  • Domestic Distributor: Disney
  • Cast: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine

Box Office Info:
Budget: $103 millionFinanced by: Disney
Domestic Box Office: $100,478,608Overseas Box Office: $32,936,626

In 2014 Jennifer Lee pitched Disney her take on adapting the 1962 classic children’s book A Wrinkle In Time as her follow up project to Frozen (2013), which she wrote and co-directed.  Disney had retained the rights to the Madeleine L’Engle book after their former corporate sibling Dimension (genre spinoff of Miramax), had commissioned a TV mini-series (shot in 2001 and delayed until 2004) for ABC, which the author herself said “I expected it to be bad, and it is.”

In February 2016, the mouse house announced Ava DuVernay would helm the picture, which made her the first female African American director given the reins to a production that cost north of $100M.  The budget for A Wrinkle In Time was $103 million after the project was awarded a large $18.1M tax credit from the state of California.   Disney first dated the picture for April 6, 2018 and then shifted the date to March 9, 2018.

Disney gave A Wrinkle In Time the full muscle of the mouse house marketing machine and invested in a global ad blitz that far eclipsed the cost of the picture.  Adding additional exposure were dozens of corporate cross promotional tie-ins, including A Wrinkle In Time Barbie line of characters.  JetBlue even sent out emails to their customers telling them to see the movie.  Who the hell sees a movie in theaters because an airline told them to?

For the stateside release, Disney spent $31.36M on TV ads (as per iSpotTV), plus millions more after the release and with other promotional stunts and distribution expenses — the domestic P&A costs were certainly far north of $60M.  Even with high audience awareness, tracking was pointing to a soft start in the mid to high $30M range.  Despite landing praise for its diverse cast, reviews were mixed and unenthusiastic and A Wrinkle In Time was just deemed kids fare — which that demographic was still lining up for Disney’s Black Panther.  It bowed against Strangers: Prey at Night, The Hurricane Heist and Gringo.

A Wrinkle In Time came in on the low end of expectations with $33,123,609 — placing #2 for the weekend led by Black Panther in its 4th frame.  Word of mouth was tepid and the picture lost half of its audience the following session, declining 50.9% to $16,256,879 and fell 49.5% to $8,215,492 in its third weekend.  The domestic run closed at the century mark with $100,478,608.

A Wrinkle In Time struggled in most overseas markets and the offshore cume stalled at a dismal $32,936,626.  The worldwide gross was $133.3M and Disney would see returned about $73.3M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — far below the global marketing blitz and the theatrical receipts would not dent the budget.

In Disney’s quarter report, the mouse house took an unspecified, but huge loss (we estimate close to $70M) on A Wrinkle In Time:  “The increase in theatrical distribution results was due to the success of Black Panther in the current quarter with no comparable Marvel title in the prior-year quarter. This increase was partially offset by the performance of A Wrinkle in Time.


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