Paul W.S. Anderson’s Monster Hunter initially looked like the latest in a long line of the filmmaker’s harmless jaunts into vapid action blockbuster territory, but somehow it ended up almost causing an international incident.
Releasing an effects-driven blockbuster during the COVID-19 era is a financial risk under the best possible circumstances, but when the video game adaptation hit theaters in China at the beginning of December, it lasted less than 48 hours before being pulled. A throwaway line of dialogue was interpreted by local audiences as an offensive racial slur, and it was swiftly review bombed into oblivion by furious Chinese nationals.
Production company Constantin Films, star Milla Jovovich and Anderson himself all profusely apologized for the joke in question, but the damage had already been done, and Monster Hunter had lost out on making money from what stood every chance of being the movie’s most lucrative market. There was a silver lining when it managed to top the domestic box office two weeks later, but a haul of $2.2 million was the lowest opening weekend scored by a number one title since August.
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All told, Monster Hunter managed to recoup just over $18 million of the $60 million budget back during its theatrical run, despite securing the best reviews of Anderson’s entire directorial career. Admittedly, a Rotten Tomatoes score of 49% isn’t much to write home about, but the few audience members that did check it out rated it at a much higher 71%.
The studio will be hoping that at least some of those losses are covered when it hits digital and VOD on February 16th, before Monster Hunter lands on DVD and Blu-ray the following month, on March 2nd, although it would be safe to say that any plans for a franchise have already been nixed at the first hurdle.
Source: Bloody Disgusting