Falling To The Pavement – Why The Box Office Returns For The Walk (2015) Are So Bad

walk1So the box office for Robert Zemeckis’s new film The Walk is not good, and apparently this surprises some people. The only thing that surprises me is that some people are surprised about it.

A couple of days ago I ran across this article which attempts to analyze the “whys” behind the movie’s failure – according to the article,

After a 9-day exclusive engagement in IMAX theaters, The Walk expanded wide this past weekend, grossing a meager $3.8 million domestic, not even good enough to crack the box office top 10. Its 12-day domestic total now stands at $6.4 million, which it has only slightly bettered with $7.1 million from limited international release in countries like Australia, Brazil and Denmark. The studio, Sony, is said to be stunned and discouraged, understandably preferring to toot their own horn (Hotel Transylvania 2 is a bonafide hit!) than concede defeat (The Walk is d.o.a. in America…for now.)

The author of this article, Kelly Konda, seems to be quite enamored of the film, and of its director, stating among other things “If The Walk does end up becoming a financial failure, at least from its theatrical run, it should be considered a noble failure.”

walk2Basically, Konda spends most of the article praising both Zemeckis and Paramount studio head for going ahead with this film in the face of the inevitablility that it would not likely be a huge box office draw, (a move which, in other circumstances I might also be championing) then trying to figure out just why that was such an inevitability, when the answer is very simple: Though the premise of the film is quite daring, and the film itself might be quite entertaining, there has been absolutely nothing in any of the promotional material that has convinced me, or anyone else apparently, that there is any reason to go see this film. Anyone who really has any interest in the subject will likely have already seen the excellent 2008 documentary Man on Wire which features not only interviews with the actual Philippe Petit (the highwire artist and daredevil who took the daring walk) but footage and stills of the real-life event rather than CGI fueled re-enactments. After all, why pay $10 or more to watch Joseph Gordon Levitt (good looking though he may be) fumble for a French accent and fake his way through what is truly a rather fascinating story when I can watch the real event unfold at home for free on Netflix?

walk3And if people aren’t even interested enough to do that, well then…

Of course, it also didn’t help, as Korda notes, that the studio decided to do a first-week IMAX-only release, something they’ve tried a few times recently, presumably hoping for some positive word of mouth to fuel interest before the film opened wide, but it’s hard to get that word of mouth when nobody’s going to see your movie in the first place and especially not at inflated IMAX prices.

Plus, let’s face it, there’s really no tension involved in the film – we already know the outcome – so the best it can be is a character piece, and again, why spend the time with an actor portraying the character when you can actually spend the time with the real Petit (and those who aided and abetted him)?

Anyway, that’s the question that the studio actually faced, and obviously never came up with a compelling enough answer for, and that’s the reason that The Walk was always destined to be a box-office failure.

Here, I’ll give you a chance to make the determination for yourself. First up, here’s a trailer for the documentary Man on Wire:

And here’s the trailer for The Walk.

So what do you think? Is there anything in that second trailer that compels you to plunk down your money for this film?

Nope, didn’t think so. Me neither.

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