Why The 5th Wave Bombed At The Box Office

The 5th Wave was another dystopian feature that stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassie Sullivan, an Ohio teenager who’s dealing with the worldwide crisis of alien attacks that’s causing earthquakes, and tsunamis. The young girl is eager to reunite with brother Sam and forms an alliance with the mysterious Evan Walker, both of which must fight for survival during the fifth assault from invaders. Given how hot the young adult adaptations were at the time thanks to The Hunger Games and Twilight, The 5th Wave sounded poised for box office success; however, the Chole Grace Moretz vehicle was hit with negative reviews, resulting in an abysmal 16% rotten tomatoes score. More importantly, The 5th Wave tanked at the box office, opening with $10.3 million and ending its run with $109.9 million worldwide. Considering the budget was $54 million, The 5th Wave wasn’t a complete flop, though it did cost Sony a few million dollars. So, what happened? The 5th Wave was based on another popular Young Adult series and it should’ve resulted in a hit. Let’s dive deeper into the 2016 feature.

Young Adult Movie Adaptations Were Tired By The Time The 5th Wave Came Out

The Harry Potter series was the true set of films that made the young adult novels a hot commodity. However, Harry Potter didn’t really kick off the Young Adult Dystopian novel craze, Twilight did and for a while, the genre was pretty hot thanks to the success of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and the first two Divergent movies. However, the genre became stale due to the trappings that were followed by The Hunger Games and Twilight. A dystopian world that follows a young female protagonist. Check. An unnecessary love triangle involving the protagonist and two studs. Check. Some type of half-baked social commentary that’s thrown at the side due to the unnecessary love story. Check. By the time The 5th Wave rolled around, the genre was in a dying state. The premise of The 5th Wave sounds absurd, but under the guidance of the right filmmaker, it could’ve been a very fun film. However, it had to follow The Hunger Games model and the end result was overly serious, bland slog with wasted potential. Also, the special effects weren’t all that great. Combine all these ingredients and audiences just weren’t that interested in the latest Young Adult adaptation.

Chloe Grace Moretz Is Not A Bankable Star

Chloe Grace Moretz is a strong actress. Her roles in The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Kick-Ass, Hugo, and Let Me In greatly showcase just how versatile and talented she is; however, Moretz has failed to gain steam as a mainstream star. Her biggest box office success is The Equalizer, which made $190 million worldwide, though Moretz wasn’t the headliner. Mortez is in the same vein as Ryan Gosling or Joseph Gorden-Levitt, meaning that these three have proven their talent time and time again yet they fail to draw in mainstream crowds when they’re in the lead. Mortez isn’t a controversial figure nor has she done anything that would turn audiences off of her films. Despite notable names Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello, and Ron Livingston on board, those veterans aren’t bankable talents in movies either. Again, these are great actors; however, none of them have led a film that made over $100 million. Helmed by a director who’s a virtual unknown, the sell for The 5th Wave was the premise and built-in audience for the novels. I’m not sure how big of an audience the books have nor can I judge the quality of them as well, but the fact that the film came across as another dystopian YA adaptation clone definitely didn’t get audiences interested in buying a ticket. It doesn’t help that Star Wars: The Force Awakens – which made over $2 Billion by the end of its run – and The Revenant were still playing in theaters. Granted, the number one film grossed nearly $17 million, with The Force Awakens was close behind with nearly $15, but that speaks volumes about the lack of interest in The 5th Waves when both movies in their second and third week were more of a draw than the YA adaptation.

The 5th Wave fell 31% the following week as Kung Fu Panada 3 captured the No. 1 spot with over $41 million, so it’s clear that word-of-mouth wasn’t particularly strong for the Chloe Grace Moretz vehicle. The ultimate nail in the coffin for the dystopian YA novel adaptations was part one of Allegiant, that film solidified that the genre was a thing in the past in the minds of mainstream moviegoers.


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