'The Goldfinch' flop could cost Amazon and Warner Bros as much as $50 million

Ben Arnold
Nicole Kidman and Ansel Elgort in The Goldfinch (Credit: Warner Bros)

There's more bad news for the movie adaptation of Donna Tartt's celebrated novel The Goldfinch.

Reviews began piling in last week, with critic after critic taking turns in thwacking it like a birthday piñata.

Roundly denounced as 'a failure', 'textureless and flavourless' and 'an object lesson in what not to do in an adaptation', a sturdy cast including Nicole Kidman, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson and Ansel Elgort appear to have failed to do justice to the Pulitzer Prize-winning source material.

Now it's bombing at the box office too, with reports that it could lose its producers, Warner Bros and Amazon Studios, up to $50 million (around £40 million)

It debuted in the US to an appalling $2.6 million, one of the lowest takes of all time for a movie being shown on over 2,500 screens, and the biggest flop of the year so far.

Warner Bros. has responded to the disappointing box office returns blaming “the marketplace” for the lack of audience interest.

“I think the audience wasn’t interested in seeing this literary work on-screen,” Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution told Variety.

Juli Goodwin, EVP of Domestic Publicity for Warner Bros. Pictures, Jeff Goldstein, President of Domestic Distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures, and Blair Rich, President of Worldwide Marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for American Cinematheque/AP Images)

“There were many things that didn’t work, but the biggest was probably the marketplace. The gap between the have and the have-nots is growing even bigger.”

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In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon could lose every penny of the between $16 and $18 million it paid for the exclusive rights to stream the movie on Amazon Prime, with Warner losing an additional $25 to $30 million.

“Reviews still matter, especially for adult dramas. You can’t crossover into theaters, no matter how well received a novel is, without them. It definitely would have been better off as streaming content in a limited series fashion, as the book weighed a ton,” box office analyst Jeff Bock told THR.

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“It's a tough lesson for Warner Bros. to learn at this stage of the game. Oh, well, I’m sure someone will reboot it in five years and do it justice.”

Warner Bros has suffered other flops this summer too, including female Irish mob drama The Kitchen with Melissa McCarthy, which cost $38 million but made only $15 million, and the Bruce Springsteen-inspired dramedy Blinded By The Light, which cost $15 million, but only made $16 million (a substantial shortfall after marketing and advertising costs).

It should make up for it next month, however, when the widely celebrated Joker with Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz and Robert De Niro hits screens.