Summer may not have technically begun yet, but
First, the film studio released the
Then Warner Bros. said last week that it was delaying the release of "Jupiter Ascending," a hoped-for blockbuster that had been slated to debut July 18.
Now, its most recent movie, "Edge of Tomorrow," recorded a weak $28.7-million domestic opening over the weekend.
The film, a sci-fi action picture that stars
It's a rare string of setbacks for Burbank-based Warner Bros., Hollywood's biggest movie studio.
"I think all we can control is to make great movies with the best, most talented people," said Greg Silverman, Warner's president of creative development and worldwide production. "If we do that consistently we've always proven that you win in the end."
The studio's summer slate looked risky from the start because it was lacking in big franchises. In years past, Warner Bros. has relied on action films and comedies based on tested intellectual property -- which tend to be safer bets at the box office.
Although they feature A-list stars, films such as "Edge of Tomorrow" and "Blended" are inherently riskier than sequels or other projects developed from properties with brand recognition, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, an entertainment data firm.
"People always talk about the lack of originality in Hollywood, but by and large people don't show up for those original films," he said. "Audiences now are so conditioned -- they almost expect there is going to be a brand they know and love and understand before they plunk down their money."
Warner Bros.' biggest hit of 2014, "The LEGO Movie," was, of course, based on well-known intellectual property. It has taken in more than $460 million worldwide.
The studio has gone through other recent rough patches and bounced back. Warner Bros. started 2013 by releasing five films in a row that underperformed at the box office, including
Warner Bros.' 2013 fortunes improved considerably over the summer, when it released a handful of big sequels and pictures based on iconic intellectual property, including "
Silverman said that the studio would not shy away from making new films that it hopes have franchise potential.
"You have to have a mix of original and branded material," he said. "This studio has such a rich history of creating franchises and I don't want to give up on that."
With a budget of $178 million, and marketing costs of tens of millions of dollars more, "Edge of Tomorrow" has a long way to go in order to become profitable, though the studio is touting a strong opening weekend overseas as reason for optimism. The film has grossed $111.4 million internationally.
But Dergarabedian said the main takeaway from last weekend was that "The Fault in Our Stars," an inexpensive film based on a popular young adult novel, handily "beat Tom Cruise in the summer."
Dergarabedian said that the success of "The Fault in Our Stars" and
"The paradigms are shifting," Dergarabedian said.
Warner Bros.' next film, "Jersey Boys," will debut June 20. The project, based on the hit musical of the same name, was directed by
"Tracking is really all over the place in terms of accuracy," said Silverman, adding that audiences have responded positively to the film in advance screenings. "Early word is really good."
In July, Warner Bros. will release "Tammy," a comedy starring box-office draw
Meanwhile, "Jupiter Ascending" will now come out in February. Warner Bros. has said that it delayed the release of the sci-fi epic, directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski, so that it could have more time to work on the project's visual effects.
The studio's other forthcoming high-profile releases for the year include "Horrible Bosses 2" and the final film in "The Hobbit" trilogy.
Both are sequels to hit movies -- and in line with a strategy outlined by Silverman.
"To get to a sequel you have to make a great original movie," he said.