Can ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ Be a Domestic Hit?

Drew Dietsch

Pacific Rim Uprising is going to have a battle to win at the box office. The sequel to the 2013 cult favorite — which was helmed by The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro — was a box office success in foreign markets, raking in over $300 million from locations other than the United States. But, its domestic gross barely cracked $100 million against a budget of nearly $200 million.

Does this spell doom for Pacific Rim Uprising‘s chance at the US box office?

Sequel Distance

There are definitely a few factors that will make it tough for Pacific Rim Uprising to break out. One of those is the time between sequels. It’s been five years since the first film. Normally, studios like to keep the time between sequels at a minimum of two years. It allows for the property to remain fresh in the public’s mind. If it’s been too long, the fervor around the film might have already died down.

It’s especially difficult with a sequel like Pacific Rim Uprising because it doesn’t have the strongest cultural cache in America. Between that and the half-decade between films, that hiatus could hurt the film’s chances a lot.

What’s New?

Another problem for Pacific Rim Uprising is one that all sequels have to face: what are we offering to the audience that’s different from the original film? For fans, they know that it will feature brand new Jaeger robots and Kaiju monsters, but is that coming across to general audiences?

For most casual viewers, the marketing looks like it’s retreading a lot of the same things as the first movie. Of course, we know that it isn’t. But, optics are a huge factor in enticing people to spend their hard-earned money on a movie ticket. And the optics for Pacific Rim Uprising haven’t showcased enough variety to really hook your average moviegoer.

Competition and Screen Count

'Black Panther' is still making a killing at the box office.

This is an important aspect of box office prognosticating that a lot of people forget to factor in. It’s important to gauge what else is out in theaters at the time of a film’s release and how that might affect a number of variables. For example, will the immensely successful Black Panther still be pulling away potential audience members from Pacific Rim Uprising? And Tomb Raider will only be in its second week of release. That’s probably going to shave some attendance away from Pacific Rim Uprising as well.

Probably the one element that is crucial to estimating a film’s box office success is screen count. That is the number of screens the film will be releasing on during its opening weekend. According to Box Office MojoPacific Rim Uprising is slated to release on ~3,700 screens. While it is the widest release that weekend, it will also be up against Black PantherTomb Raider, and the children’s film Sherlock Gnomes. Each of those films will still be screening on over 3,500 screens each. That’s going to crowd the market and make it a lot tougher for Pacific Rim Uprising to stand out from the crowd.

The Advantages

John Boyega's presence in the film is a big plus.

It’s not all gloomy for the sequel though. It certainly has a chance at cutting through its challenges and coming out on top. It has a few advantages in that regard. Its biggest asset is its star, John Boyega. Thanks to his role as Finn in the recent Star Wars films, his awareness factor helps to give the movie a big push.

Also, Pacific Rim Uprising doesn’t have nearly as large a budget as the first film. This decreases its chances of not making its budget back domestically. In the five years since the first film, technology has allowed for cheaper solutions to effects issues that have probably helped cut down on the film’s costs.

And, even though the advertising hasn’t done a great job at differentiating itself from its predecessor, it is still filled with the kind of large-scale sci-fi action that audiences love to see. If the general populace is hankering for a fun blockbuster, Pacific Rim Uprising will definitely hook onto that desire.

We’ll find out how Pacific Rim Uprising performs when it hits theaters on March 23.

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