A Cure for Wellness Turns Out to be Box Office Poison

by Nick Banks

As predicted at the start of the over-stuffed winter horror film season, there were bound to be some box office casualties and if you are Twentieth Century Fox, you probably wish you sought a second opinion before green-lighting this one.

Out of the numerous horror films released this season, A Cure for Wellness is undoubtably the biggest disappointment, earning an estimated $4.2 million dollars in receipts at the film’s opening weekend box office.  Every other major horror release this year (Split, Underworld: Blood Wars, Resident Evil: the Final Chapter, Rings, and the Bye Bye Man) have earned more during their opening box office frames, even films with worse reviews and worse word-of-mouth.

Why did this film “die on the table”?  For starters, the film garnered primarily negative reviews, currently sitting at 38% on Rotten Tomatoes.  This is not unusual for a horror film, but fan reaction has been equally negative.  On the same website, fans rate the picture at 47% (Audience Score) and Wellness also earned a Cinemascore of C+, the third lowest of 2017 behind the Bye Bye Man and Rings.   

Another major factor is the continued success of fellow psychological horror film Split which, against all odds, is currently the highest grossing film of the year at the domestic box office. While this number won’t stand for much longer with the continued success of Lego Batman and the upcoming high profile films Logan and Kong: Skull Island, the timing of the Gore Verbinski’s film didn’t work out for the director, as fans are still clearly experiencing “Split-fever”.  Adding salt to the wound, Split will beat A Cure for Wellness in its 5th weekend of release with an estimated $7 million in sales.

The “fake news” viral campaign blow-back for A Cure for Wellness (which resulted in an apology from 20th Century Fox) garnered the film some wide-spread publicity, but the old show biz adage that “no publicity is bad publicity” didn’t work in this case, and may have actually turned ticket buyers off.

All of these factors add up to a box office dud and A Cure for Wellness’ speedy exit from your local theater, especially with the release of the Jordan Peele’s Get Out next weekend, which already has very positive buzz surrounding it.  It would not be surprising if theater chains increased the screen count for Get Out by subtracting some away from A Cure for Wellness.

Stay tuned for further coverage of the winter horror film season and next week’s winners and losers.

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