Disney’s The Call of the Wild opened to $24 million, The Numbers is reporting. While that is more than $10 million or so above where tracking had it prior to its premiere, it’s not the best debut considering its reported production budget of $135 million, something it’s going to have to depend on international numbers to make back.
Much of that price tag went to the film’s special effects. The Call of the Wild is notable for using a fully computer generated canine star for its death-defying adventure story, with a veteran animation director–Chris Sanders of Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon fame–at the helm. It’s also the first movie to use Disney’s new “20th Century Studios” banner, as Wild was a Fox acquisition. Critics were largely nice to the film (with most praising the performance of Harrison Ford), giving it a 65% “freshness” rating over at Rotten Tomatoes.
Call of the Wild did have to deal with some difficulty in reaching its target family market. It’s based on a book that’s more than 100 years old and is actually pretty violent (though it tones its source material down in many ways), and also had to compete with the much flashier Sonic the Hedgehog. This time last year, no one probably would’ve expected for Sonic to speed past the $100 million mark in just ten days, but that’s exactly what has happened, with the well-liked video game adaptation topping the weekend with a take of $26 million.
Elsewhere at the box office, the recently re-titled Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey continued to struggle, and has managed only $72 million after three weeks. Many are largely attributing this to the superhero spin-off’s unexpected R rating, which kept the audience for the teen-friendly Suicide Squad out of theaters.