It’s one of the biggest bombs in cinema history, grossing an estimated $1.32 million in 2,413 theaters in North America – which breaks down to about $547 per theater. That means Jem had the third worst opening weekend ever for a first-run movie debuting in more than 2,000 theaters (the other two were Delgo, an animated movie from 2008 and 2012’s Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure).
In fact, as BuzzFeed points out, Jem had the worst wide opening weekend ever for a movie released by a major studio (Universal Pictures) with major marketing muscle behind it.
Serves them right. Whatever the hell it was, it wasn’t Jem & the Holograms.
Director Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Step Up 2: The Streets) and producer Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious) chose to re-imagine Jem for the 2010s, moving away from the outrageous sci-fi fantasy of the ’80s cartoon into a (relatively) more grounded, tween-friendly movie about fame in the viral age.
That creative decision appears to have backfired in the most spectacular fashion imaginable — tweens unfamiliar with the Jem brand were clearly not interested, and neither were millennials and Gen Xers with a fond memory of the ’80s TV series. The movie, it seems, was for no one.
It’s the same thing that happened to Stonewall, where the director felt his ideas were superior to the original concept. In this case, it was a blatant disregard of everything that made Jem, well, JEM. It could have been done in a kitschy retro ’80s style, it could have been updated à la the Transformer movies or Goosebumps, it could have been marketed as feel-good nostalgia for Gen-Xers and their kids– but no. They chose to throw out crucial elements like the Misfits and Synergy in favor of a generic plot about modern age of social media. Crash and burn guys. Crash and burn.