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‘Ender’s Game’ sequel no longer likely after unspectacular U.S. box office

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Industry analysts say decent but not dominant start means momentum for Harrison Ford space thriller is not sufficient for second film

A relatively weak $28m box office opening in the US this weekend means controversial science fiction adaptation Ender’s Game is unlikely to get a sequel, according to industry experts.

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The Hollywood Reporter compiled the views of a number of analysts whose job it is to review the franchise potential of blockbuster wannabes. Most felt Gavin Hood’s film, which has been targeted by gay rights activists, would struggle to make back its $110m budget after debuting with a solid but unspectacular $28m in North America.

That figure was enough to put the movie, which stars Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin, in first place in the US. But with Marvel studios’ latest superhero sequel, Thor: The Dark World, arriving at the weekend, it has not built the sort of momentum likely to lead to a long box office run.

“The film did not draw well from young adults, despite the book’s popularity,” wrote expert Eric Handler of MKM Partners in a note to Hollywood investors on Monday. “Roughly 54 per cent of the audience was over the age of 25. A good but not great CinemaScore of B+ is not likely to hold moviegoer interest, with Thor: The Dark World opening next week.”

“Ender’s Game has a credible $28m U.S. opening but not a plausible start of a new franchise for Summit Entertainment and OddLot,” added Matthew Harrigan of Wunderlich Securities in his own note to investors. Ben Mogil of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co, said he felt Ender’s Game was unlikely to recoup more than $75m of its $110m budget at the box office.

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Ender’s Game was pitched as the beginning of a potential franchise to ape the success of Lionsgate’s other teen-oriented futuristic saga, The Hunger Games. Hood’s film explicitly sets up a sequel, but the movie has suffered from negative publicity prior to its opening.

It is not known whether the campaign by Geeks Out, which called for a boycott of the film due to source novel author Orson Scott Card’s highly publicised homophobic views, ultimately effected the film’s box office. But Hood and his stars – Ford, who plays a gruff military leader, in particular – were often forced to point out that the movie did not come from the same mean-spirited place. And that cannot have been helpful.

Ender’s Game has also benefited from better-than-average reviews and currently holds a 61% “fresh” rating on the review aggregator Rotten Romatoes. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw said the film, which details the recruitment of a genius teenager to help fight an extra terrestrial threat, was a surprisingly decent effort. ” The movie’s apocalyptic finale indicates that it’s bitten off considerably more than it can chew in terms of ideas,” he wrote. “But it looks good, and the story rattles along.”

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• Orson Scott Card ‘won’t profit’ from Ender’s Game film• Video: Harrison Ford and director Gavin Hood discuss their adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi novel

© Guardian News and Media 2013

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