Welcome to Marwen
- Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
- Written By: Robert Zemeckis, Caroline Thompson
- Release Date: December 21, 2018
- Domestic Distributor: Universal
- Cast: Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $40 million||Financed by: Universal; DreamWorks; Perfect World Pictures|
|Domestic Gross: $10,763,520||Overseas Gross: Still in release|
It was announced in October 2013 that Universal had optioned the acclaimed documentary Marwencol (2010) and the life rights of Mark Hogancamp as a project for Robert Zemeckis — who had re-launched his company ImageMovers at Universal after it was shuttered by Disney in the wake of the fiasco Mars Needs Moms. Welcome to Marwen was put on the development backburner while Zemeckis helmed two commercial failures The Walk (2015) and Allied (2016). Steve Carell committed to the lead in Welcome to Marwen in April 2015 and the project went before the cameras in August 2017.
Welcome to Marwen was financed by Universal and DreamWorks (40% of expenses) for $40 million and Universal received some capital on their end from the studio’s Chinese slate financing partner Perfect World Pictures. Universal handled global distribution duties. The picture was positioned as a major potential awards player and the studio first dated Marwen for November 21 but Universal & DreamWorks then scheduled their other collaboration Green Book for a wide expansion on that date. Welcome To Marwen was then moved to the highly competitive holiday frame on December 21.
Welcome to Marwen was tracking poorly going into release and acted as counter-programming to the opening holiday tentpoles Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns and Bumblebee. Second Act also bowed. Negative reviews certainly turned the commercially challenged picture into a see at your own risk turkey. This misguided project was a showcase for the talented Zemeckis’ weak traits as a director — piling on cheap sentiment and an over reliance on technology, in his case motion capture. His career segue into motion capture yielded one money maker The Polar Express (2004) and a series of major financial disasters Beowulf (2007), A Christmas Carol (2009) and Mars Needs Moms (producer only).
Universal did aid the domestic release with an expensive marketing push, dishing out $19.83M on TV ads going into release (as per iSpotTV — and millions more after the opening) and after other advertising and distribution expenses, the stateside P&A costs were around $40M. Welcome to Marwen was expected to open with a three-day haul between $7M – $9M, but it was dead on arrival with $2,354,205 — placing #9 for the weekend led by Aquaman. Marwen held on over the New Year’s frame, declining just 5% to $2,237,545 but it sank 69.5% to $681,790 in its third session and promptly lost most of its theater count. It was pulled from release after just 4 weeks with a disastrous $10,763,520.
Reports surfaced that Universal had planned on investing about $120M into a global P&A spend (yes, plenty of studio pictures cost that much to market now), but the studio decided to scale back the offshore push and spent about half that amount. The reported overseas cume stands at a mere $2M with most market play tapped out. The last major market left to open is Germany at the end of March. More as the numbers come in…