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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, has the reboot failed?

JackRyanShadowRecruit.jpgI have always said that there's far too much focus on the domestic opening weekend of a film - for those of you who don't know in American film speak that means the first weekend the film is released in American cinemas - typically it is forgotten that there's a larger world out there that can return more cinemagoers than just the American audience and that a film is shown longer than three days.

Despite that I read an article today that is casting doubt over the future of a Jack Ryan sequel because of the domestic opening weekend box office takings and especially the statistics that claim "more than a third of the opening weekend audience was over the age of 50".

Apart from the obvious comments of "so?" and "are you really surprised?" I'd also suggest that listening to statistics and relying on American opening weekend alone is not always a good thing.

First of all let me hit the obvious one, the opening weekend release. To be fair Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has been released in many more countries than just America, here's the list according to IMDB that shows up until the 17th of January:

Philippines; United Arab Emirates; Australia; Denmark; Croatia; Hungary; Indonesia; Israel; Kuwait; Lebanon; Malaysia; Netherlands; New Zealand; Peru; Russia; Singapore; Thailand; Ukraine; Canada; Estonia; India; Latvia; Mexico; Romania; Sweden; USA, and South Africa.

Okay, so those are a lot more countries than expected so I shouldn't really go into a rant about only judging the American opening weekend should I? However it seems it is even more pertinent here because there are other countries to consider.

The article from The Hollywood Reporter does point out that it has hit other countries and showing some of the earnings for each.

…rolling out in its first 29 foreign territories this weekend, grossed a solid $22.2 million, led by China with $9.5 million. It earned $2 million in Russia -- where much of the storyline is set -- and $2 million in Australia.

A total of US $22.2 million for a US $60 million film does seem a little low but then The Hollywood Reporter also have some good statistics to place that.

…it opened on par with fellow Paramount pic Jack Reacher and ahead of Unstoppable, featuring Pine opposite Denzel Washington. Reacher, starring Tom Cruise, earned $138.3 million overseas, while Unstoppable took in $86.2 million.

So even if it follows the path of either of those films it will have made some profit, and I don't believe that counts on demand which is undoubtedly an area of growing revenue and is on the rise.

Are they suggesting the franchise is dead because it didn't make vast amounts of profits in the first three days it was in the cinema? According to IMDB it has another thirty-four countries where it is yet to be released, that includes the UK.

They also make another comparison for the film:

Paramount's Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters topped out at a disappointing $55.7 million domestically, but earned $170 million internationally for a global total of $225.7 million

Now that was a bad film aimed specifically at a younger audience, is that what they really wanted for Jack Ryan? This leads me to the real crux, away from the figures, the fact that there seems to be a surprise that this was hitting the age group it did.

The article also has the Vice Chairman of Paramount speaking about the turnout for the film:

"The affection for the franchise was definitely 50-plus. The young audience didn't turn out for the opening weekend. The question now becomes, does a younger audience now discover it, whether in theaters or on home entertainment?"

Exactly. So is it the article that is jumping the gun here? Is the Jack Ryan reboot already dead? Well I can't see the surprise that over fifties were attracted to the film, after all we are talking about a huge character from the Tom Clancy novels and teenagers aren't flocking to them are they?

Then there's the fact that the last outing for the character of Jack Ryan was in The Sum of All Fears in 2002, rebooting the character from the incumbent actor from the previous two films of Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger in 1992 and 1994 respectively, themselves replacing the actor from the original The Hunt for Red October in 1990.

So Jack Ryan first appeared on screen some twenty four years ago and the last appearance was twelve years ago. In print he first appeared in 1984, thirty years ago.

Now, is it a surprise that the audience for the film would be older?

Okay, let's look at the new film. It does lead with Chris Pine who is helping to attract younger audiences to the Star Trek reboot, and he's thirty-three. Kenneth Branagh directs and plays the villain and he's fifty-three, and looking damn fine for it too. Talking of which Kevin Costner stars and he's just turned fifty-nine, I'd love to look cool at fifty-nine. The youngest of them is Keira Knightley at twenty-eight.

Of course the ages of stars doesn't really matter when they can look younger but Costner and Branagh put a more mature stamp on the film and looking at the acting pedigree there's definitely the allure for an older audience there outside of Pine.

So once again, is it any surprise the audience was an older one? I don't think so. Surely the whole Jack Ryan thing would have been the giveaway for the studio initially.

What hits me harder is that despite where the film is aiming they are still trying to get it to hit the younger audience, why couldn't they go with the older audience and try and pack them in for a change? - Please note that at forty-three I am calling myself older, mature, etc. so don't take offence, I certainly don't.

The population in the UK is certainly skewing towards the older generation and so that will soon be the larger audience, getting them into the cinema though is going to be harder and they (we) are more likely to be the ones accessing on demand from home.

I can't help but think that the studio might have brought some of this on themselves as just a little fore-thought would have shown who the interesting age group for the film would be and trying to pitch it at younger people by adding in a trendy younger actor may not have been the only thing they needed to do.

I saw the trailer just before The Wolf of Wall Street this weekend and the opening sections look surprisingly similar to Casino Royale (Filmstalker review) and the entire trailer suggests more of an adult thriller than anything else. Even the marketing has been pitched older.

In the end the final figures will speak, and I don't mean the figures from all the opening weekends, I mean the figures from the entire cinema run and on demand.

Will there be another Jack Ryan film? Perhaps the mature audiences are the ones who will decide and over the entire life of the film release, not just the opening weekend in a select number of countries.




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