As 2016 comes to an end, it’s time to do some ruminating on where Legend of Tarzan has landed in the pantheon of 2016 movies, and what this means for the prospect of a sequel. From a pure box office point of view — it ended up with $356M worldwide, just a little bit south of the “2X budget” formula which would have been $360M, and which is arguably the entry point for films to be considered successful. In performing as well as it did, it clearly beat expectations. But is it enough to fuel serious studio consideration of a sequel? My take is that from a Box Office Gross perspective, it’s very much “on the bubble.”
LOT makes the IMDB Top 10 List
Legend of Tarzan surprised a lot of people by making it to the IMDB Top 10 most popular movies of 2016 list, coming in at number 10. What does this mean? First of all, the IMDB list is based on the number of page views on IMDB, so it’s like a Box Office Gross list, only the “currency” is page views.
Legend of Tarzan is number 21 in terms of Box Office Gross for the year, so the difference between its rank there, and its rank on the IMDB list, is interesting. Following is a list of the 10 movie on the IMDB list, with their Domestic Box Office Rank and Global Box Office Rank.
1. Suicide Squad (9,8)
2. Captain America: Civil War (1,1)
3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (8,6)
4. Deadpool (6,7)
5. X-Men: Apocalypse (15,13)
6. The Jungle Book (5,4)
7. The Magnificent Seven (28,48)
8. Ghostbusters (19,30)
9. Warcraft (63,15)
10. The Legend of Tarzan (21,20)
It would seem that LOT, like Warcraft and Ghostbusters got a boost in page views from strong international interest. This is consistent with what WB was looking for when they made the film — although the actual foreign box office performance was a bit soft.
But it can’t be a bad thing that in a list that is based entirely on clicks from movie fans around the world, LOT came in at a level that warrants respect. I call this a win.
Legend of Tarzan’s Absence From “Biggest Bomb” Lists
Going into the summer, LOT made it almost every “movies that will bomb this summer” list that was published. We all remember that.
So now here we are at the end of the year, and the “Biggest Bombs of 2016” lists are out. I have googled and googled and am pleased to report that Legend of Tarzan does not appear on any that I have found. (If somebody finds it somewhere, let me know.) Here are the lists where it does not appear:
Could This Mean That A Positive Narrative Is Emerging?
I think a case can be made for a narrative emerging that is a) a lot more positive than the pre-release narrative, and b) growing gradually stronger as the film works its way through all the secondary release windows. Nothing in the Blu-ray, Cable, etc is going to materially change the financial performance (all of that is “baked in” to the “2x budget=success” formulation) . . . but respect is growing. As the respect grows, and with the movie on the cusp of having been profitable, it’s not that hard to make a credible financial case for a sequel, especially if cost can be contained just a little bit. A Legend of Tarzan sequel at $150M budget makes good sense — can it be done for that?
Realistically, one thing that could hold back a sequel is that David Yates is on to other successful stuff. He is not getting clobbered by critics for his other work; only for Tarzan. He has said he would support a LOT sequel as a producer, not director, so that’s okay — but the reality is, he’s not likely to be the kind of powerful prime mover proponent for a sequel that is needed if one is to happen. Someone else will have to emerge in that role and if they do, I’m confident Yates will do his part as a producer. But I don’t see him as a prime mover for the sequel. (And I would love for David to prove me wrong about this — I’m just offering what I believe to be realistic assessment.)
Another factor is that Skarsgard is 40, and he has made it clear he’s not in love with having to undergo the physical training that the role demands. He would be at least 42 when filming of a sequel would start. Not a disqualifier, but it works against it
But let’s end on a positive note. Legend of Tarzan wasn’t a bomb and made almost enough at the box office to be considered a solid success ; it made the IMDB Top 10 showing real global appeal, and it’s got loyal fans who aren’t going to give up on it.
So, bottom line, there’s genuine hope and reason for optimism going into 2017.