Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken Drowns At The Box Office With $6 Million Opening Weekend

A couple of weeks ago, Warner Bros.' expensive superhero outing "The Flash" and Pixar's animated love story "Elemental" landed simultaneously with rough starts at the box office. There's a sense of déjà vu this weekend, as "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" debuts with an estimated $60 million opening weekend that's far short of the bar set by its eye-popping $295 million production budget, and DreamWorks' watery animated offering "Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken" sinks entirely.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, "Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken" has opened outside of the top five at the box office this weekend, earning sixth place with a projected three-day total of $6 million. For comparison, the $29.6 million opening weekend for "Elemental" was considered pretty disastrous (though that movie has regained ground thanks to a strong hold in its second weekend). "Ruby Gillman" wasn't anywhere near as expensive as Pixar's latest, with a budget of $70 million vs. $200 million for "Elemental," but it's nonetheless unlikely to break even at the box office after landing with more of a ripple than a splash. 

Those audiences who did make the trip to see the trials and tribulations of the titular teenage kraken seemed to enjoy the film, if the A- CinemaScore is anything to go by, but reviews are middling with a lackluster score of 65 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. So, what exactly went wrong for Ruby?

Without a paddle

Marketing spend figures for "Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken" aren't available, but it certainly feels like this movie was sent out to die by Universal Pictures. When the first trailer dropped in theaters a couple of months ago, it was a baffling experience; despite covering movie releases as a full-time job, I'd had no idea that this one was on the way, and I've seen very little promotion for it since then.

Animated originals can be a tough sell, but "Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken" director Kirk DeMicco does have a previous hit under his belt with "The Croods" (still the most commercially successful movie of Nicolas Cage's career). "The Croods" arguably tapped into the existing appeal of the adjacent "Ice Age" franchise, but "Ruby Gillman" really struggled to figure out its hook. There's something inherently jarring about the notion of a colorful society of krakens with superpowers, given that the kraken is traditionally thought of as a solitary cryptid (hence, "the kraken"), lurking anciently and mysteriously in the fathoms. We've also been pretty spoiled when it comes to animation styles recently — DreamWorks' own "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" being one notable example — and the smooth, doughy, "Shark Tale"-esque look of this movie seems kind of cheap and outdated by comparison.

It's a shame to see an original movie flop this badly at the box office, since the market is so overwhelmed by sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and adaptations. Still, perhaps "Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken" will eventually find a bigger audience when it heads to streaming (which, at this rate, could be sooner rather than later).

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