Going into the movie’s opening weekend, the studio Warner Bros. was projected to make up to $30 million domestically. Boxoffice Pro predicted a $25 million haul, while Box Office Mojo projected $27 million. But when initial box-office numbers rolled in on Friday — and it had made just $1.5 million in Thursday night previews — the movie’s outlook dimmed.
“‘Doctor Sleep’ was unable to parlay its connection to ‘The Shining’ into an expected $25 million to $30 million-plus weekend and the tracking was clearly off by a country mile,” Paul Dergarbedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, told Business Insider.
The Hollywood Reporter reported on Monday that the studio “scrambled to understand what went so wrong” on Sunday morning. Warner Bros. did not immediately return a request for comment from Business Insider.
So, what did go so wrong for “Doctor Sleep”?
Younger audiences don’t care about ‘The Shining’
Horror is one of the most reliable genres at the box office in recent years, with hits like “Get Out,” “It,” and “A Quiet Place.” “Doctor Sleep” had that going for it, along with its connection to a horror classic — or so the industry thought.
The marketing for “Doctor Sleep” heavily pushed the movie’s connection to “The Shining,” Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror movie starring Jack Nicholson. The two posters below are clear examples.
But Warner Bros. overestimated “The Shining’s” influence among younger audiences, according to box-office experts.
“Sometimes a cinematic connection that is meaningful to film buffs and movie fans — particularly from a movie that is over 30 years old — falls on deaf ears with younger viewers,” Dergarbedian said.
“39 years was simply too long between sequels,” Jeff Bock, the Exhibitor Relations senior media analyst, told Business Insider.
Bock added that many viewers were likely confused as to whether “Doctor Sleep” was a sequel or a reboot, and were therefore turned off from the movie.
Warner Bros.’ other mistake was not releasing the movie earlier during the Halloween season, according to Bock.
“There was certainly a window to do so, and honestly, they fumbled it,” Bock said. “It cost them millions.”