“We Are Your Friends'” Historic Box Office Failure
Zac Efron could not salvage We are Your Friends (read Top Gun Trav’s review here) from an embarrassingly horrible opening weekend gross of $1.8 million. No Escape opened with $8 million over the weekend and a 5-day total of $10 million while War Room surprised box office analysts with an $11 million debut. This is even more astounding when one considers that We Are Your Friends earned better reviews, 43% on Rotten Tomatoes, than both War Room, 17%, and No Escape (Read my review here), 41%. None of these films managed to defeat Straight Outta Compton, which won the weekend box office for the third weekend in a row with a tally of $13 million.
We Are Your Friends’ debut was the third worst wide-opening release in history. Only Oogieloves In The BIG Balloon Adventure and Delgo opened worse; just writing the first title made me cringe. Other films on this infamous list include: P2, Major League: Back to the Minors, The Real Cancun, College, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Bandslam, and All Dogs Go To Heaven 2. Warner Bros., which distributed We Are Your Friends, already had three other significant summer releases flop prior to this weekend: The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Entourage, and Hot Pursuit. In other words, We Are Your Friends’ box office failure is the cherry on top of a crappy cake for Warner Bros.’ summer movie slate.
The failure of We Are Your Friends further proves the limitation of Zac Efron’s star power. While he has starred in several box office hits, such as The Lucky One, 17 Again, Hairspray, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Neighbors, and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, he was not the sole draw for any of these films. His highest grossing drama, The Lucky One, made almost $100 million worldwide, but it benefited from the popularity of the novel by Nicholas Sparks. 17 Again had trailers that promised laughs and played on Efron’s post-High School Musical popularity perfectly. Hairspray boasted an all-star cast, which included John Travolta, Michele Pfeiffer, and Christopher Walken, and catchy musical numbers, both of which were showcased in its trailers. High School Musical 3: Senior Year benefited from the audience that the first two entries of the franchise built up from their debuts on the Disney Channel. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax succeeded because of Illumination Entertainment’s post-Despicable Me advertising clout and the popularity of the novel by Dr. Seuss. Neighbors had hilarious trailers and Seth Rogen’s star power to bolster it towards success.
When Efron is the sole draw for a film, they tend to do poorly. For example, Charlie St. Cloud, which was a poorly made drama, only made $48 million worldwide on a $44 million budget. All of the following smaller dramatic films starred Zac Efron and made less than $2.4 million worldwide: Parkland, At Any Price, Orson Welles & Me, The Paperboy, and Liberal Arts. We Are Your Friends is yet another dramatic box office flop for Zac Efron. This film was impaired by its R-rating which limited its audience and its so-so trailers, which promised a formulaic and forgettable coming-of-age tale.
Do you think We Are Your Friends deserved to fail as greatly as it did?
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*All of the relevant box office grosses and budget information are from BoxOfficeMojo.com.