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.

31 Comments

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  1. Do you feel the same way about “Blade Runner”?

    One thing’s for sure, if you think “a book in preexisting condition is a script in itself,” you don’t know the first thing about movie scripts.

    • Both Blade Runner movies were made by highly competent directors. Ava may have great connections from years of work in marketing and promotions, as well as good graces from her doc about the prison industrial complex but she is not especially talented as a director. Selma is well cast but even that is hampered by her distracting axis crossing during simple dialogue scenes. I have no hope for her results on The New Gods.

  2. Someone else ahs summed the biggest problem with this movie better than I ever could: ” I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that more badly wanted to be a miniseries. Like, any given ten-minute stretch of this movie feels like an abridged summary of an hour-long episode. I don’t know how else to put it.”

  3. Very informative. It goes to show that even with that kind of talent and Disney muscle behind a movie it does not guarantee a hit film!

    • I agree with you IMMENSELY. This is proof that not even the excellent pedigree involved with this film and Disney’s massive marketing machines will guarantee a great and successful film. I hate seeing Disney focusing on making their pointless “live action”(I’m using that term VERY loosely here, since there is TONS of CGI put into them) remakes and not creative(at least visually, I haven’t seen this film yet, so I don’t have an opinion on it) films like this. Their animated divisions(both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar) are making quality films every year(well, not EVERY year, but mostly.), and both the MCU and “Star Wars” series(with the exception of “Solo”) have made TONS of money for Disney. I’m REALLY worried about how “Artemis Fowl”(Disney’s next book adaptation) is going to do at the box office. I did like what I saw from the trailer, but I was surprised that Disney was still able to make it AFTER this film became such a disaster for them. I’m CERTAIN that “Artemis Fowl” has a huge budget, and unless it ends up being good(which I hope it will), I am expecting it to flop as well.

      I think that the “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” remakes, “Toy Story 4”, “Frozen 2”, and “Star Wars: Episode IX”(I’m CERTAIN “Solo” won’t affect it’s success) will all make a billion dollars for Disney, and will be their biggest hits next year. I know that it does LITTLE to do with what I’m talking about, but I should end this on a good note.

  4. Maybe DuVernay should have left the story and characters as predetermined in the books and left “creative freedom” alone. A book in preexisting condition is a script in itself, and if the book is well-received, a tried-and-true formula for success. If she wanted to experiment so damn bad, she should have been original and come up with something of her own accord, not bastardized an existing story.

    I am glad this bombed. It goes to show that one shouldn’t change something to suit one’s whim. Hell. ‘Black Panther’ was practically an all-black cast with hardly any characters changed, hardly any story changed, and was beyond well-received.

    Learn something, Ava. Thanks.

  5. So the film just BARELY hit the 100 million dollar mark in the USA and did absolutely terrible(26 million dollars, less than THE USA’S OPENING WEEKEND OF THE FILM!)overseas. No matter what, Disney is going to lose A LOT of money on this film. Looking at the bright side, though, they have “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War”, “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, and “Incredibles 2″(the latter 3 are upcoming) to cover up their losses.

    • But on the other hand, I definitely did want to see this film(especially when the teaser came out last summer(and how about the fact that it was trending number 1 on YouTube for TWO WHOLE DAYS?(no kidding), but it was clear from the trailer that the film focused more on the visual effects and less on it’s MAIN STORY. I can see why it flopped(and it doesn’t help that the critical reception the film got was VERY MIXED and audience reception was poor as well) because of that. A rare box office(and critical) misfire from Disney(but thanks to “Black Panther”, and the upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War”(especially), “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, and “Incredibles 2”, they will still be perfectly fine.).

    • And “Avengers: Infinity War” came out and has already became a MASSIVE hit at the box office. And “Black Panther” is still getting attention from audiences(and at the box office), despite coming out on home media(DVD, Blu-Ray, 4K Blu-Ray, and Digital) in two weeks, being THREE months old, and having to compete with “Ready Player One” and of course, the aforementioned “Infinity War”. And “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and “Incredibles 2” will do VERY well at the box office(and “Solo” will hopefully get good reviews from critics, while “Incredibles” will DEFINITELY get great reviews from critics(it is from Pixar, after all!).) for sure. I’m glad Disney didn’t take a hit from this film, thanks to “Infinity War” and “Black Panther” covering up their losses.

      • And this film FINALLY hit the 100 million dollar mark in the USA. And that was at the same time “Incredibles 2” shattered animation records with a 180 million dollar opening weekend in the USA alone. If a film like THAT can easily make 180 million dollars in just THREE days, while a film like THIS would take THREE WHOLE MONTHS just to hit the 100 million dollar mark(and not to mention it made the 100 million dollar mark ONE WEEK after it’s home media release), there would have to be more thinking involved. At least I would say, CONGRATUATIONS FOR DISNEY AND “Incredibles 2”!

        • the only reason it reached 100 million is that Disney atteched it to drive in showings of Incredibles 2 as a double feature, and they were able to count Incredibles 2 ticket sales for Wrinkle in time. A very cheap shot in my opinion.

        • That is correct. Disney decided to attach “A Wrinkle In Time” to drive in showings of “Incredibles 2” to help the former film hit the 100 million dollar mark. And while Disney was able to succeed in that, now the film has ended it’s theatrical run both in the USA and overseas. Safe to say it, the film was a HUGE flop for Disney. But at least thanks to “Incredibles 2” continuing to dominate the box office(despite competing with another box office juggernaut, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”(“Incredibles 2” got FAR better reviews than “Fallen Kingdom”, though)), and “Ant-Man and The Wasp” already getting good reviews from critics and ready for an 80-90 million dollar opening weekend in the USA, and as well as the HUGE amounts of money that “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther” made, it’s making Disney think that the box office flops of “A Wrinkle In Time” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story”(which definitely deserved to do better than it did at the box office. It is “Star Wars”, after all!)were all just a distant memory. I MIGHT actually try to watch this film at one point(if it’s Blu-ray or 4K Blu-Ray prices are REALLY cheap) and see why it was the HUGE box office flop it was. The only film that did well in March this year, both in the USA and overseas was “Ready Player One”, with almost 140 million dollars in the USA and more than 445 million dollars overseas(with almost 220 million dollars coming from China).
          This was a disappointing March for sure. Disney had ruled three Marches in a row(2015 with the “Cinderella” remake, 2016 with “Zootopia” and 2017 with the “Beauty and the Beast” remake. The latter two(“Zootopia” and “Beauty and the Beast”(2017)) made over a billion dollars worldwide at the box office.)(In fact, I saw the latter two in theaters when they came out in their respective years.), and this film just broke their three time winning streak. Somehow, despite the film getting VERY mixed notices from critics and flopping HARD at the box office, Disney is still moving forward with their big budget live action book adaptations, and their next book adaptation is a film adaptation of “Artemis Fowl”, which is coming out next August. I hope that film won’t have the same issues that this one had.

  6. Let’s take an overtly Christian story and rewrite it to be atheist and woke. They’ll be banging down the doors!

    Has Disney lost its mind?

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