A $150 million blockbuster hailing from an acclaimed filmmaker that’s regularly lauded as one of their generation’s finest talents, one that roped in several recognizable Hollywood stars and parachuted them into a mythologized tale geared directly towards the world’s biggest market for cinema, really shouldn’t have lost money.
And yet, that’s exactly what happened to The Great Wall, which is estimated to have ended up $75 million in the red due to exorbitant marketing costs, despite earning a respectable $334 million at the box office. However, it was an unqualified disaster on the domestic front, where it failed to even reach $50 million.
The premise is an absolute doozy, too, with Hero and House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou orchestrating a fantastical epic that finds a mercenary imprisoned within the Great Wall of China, before he discovers the imposing structure was built to prevent an army of beasts, monsters, and demons from ransacking the entire country.
There are a few visual flourishes to be found, but as a whole, the occasionally eye-popping extravaganza fails to maximize the bonkers potential of the concept. Of course, there was also the whitewashing and white savior backlash to deal with, which everyone was expecting given the presence of Matt Damon in the lead, with support coming from Pedro Pascal and Willem Dafoe.
It’s only been four years since The Great Wall was released, and yet it’s largely been forgotten about already. That being said, it has been putting in a surprisingly strong performance on streaming this weekend. As per FlixPatrol, the movie has scored several Top 10 finished on the iTunes most-watched list in several countries, where mediocre escapism must have been the order of the day.