Universal Pictures' Mortal Engines crashed and burned in its opening weekend, taking in just $7.5 million domestically, for a global total of $42.3 million. If it's lucky, the $100 million post-apocalyptic adventure will earn $120 million worldwide before it leaves theaters. However, even then, Mortal Engines could leave the studio with a loss of more than $100 million.
According to Deadline, it's projected the adaptation of the series of young-adult novels will lose anywhere between $105 million and $150 million, once everything is said and done. Part of that is because it is believed the production budget far exceeded the $110 million being reported.
One of Mortal Engines' biggest pitfall was trying to build a franchise based on a series of novels that not many may be familiar with. If the fan base isn't there, and Hollywood waits too long to ride on the waves of a title's popularity, it's a substantial risk. And in this case? It appears Universal missed its window, as author Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines was published in 2001. That's why, perhaps, the studio had hopes that Peter Jackson's involvement as a producer and co-writer would be a selling point.
There's little denying that Universal had marketed Mortal Engines well. The studio held a panel at New York Comic Con in October, and it sank a lot of money into a television campaign. However, unlike Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which is riding high on critical acclaim, Mortal Engines went into its opening weekend with reviews that labeled it a derivative "dud."
Directed by Christian Rivers, Mortal Engines stars Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae, Andy Serkis, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, and Stephen Lang.