To say that "Ben-Hur" was a box office disappointment would be an understatement.
The remake of the blockbuster 1958 remake grossed just $11 million at the box office, falling short of the already-low $15 million projected. This spells bad news for Paramount and MGM, which together spent $100 million to produce the film, and tens of millions of dollars more to market it.
And it's yet another data point showing that studios can't count on familiar brands to break through the noise and draw audiences if a film simply isn't good. "Ben-Hur" scored a 28 percent critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Paramount reduced its exposure to risk by co-financing Ben-Hur with MGM, but this weekend's results push Viacom's studio further into the loser category after earlier this year "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Zoolander" sequels fell flat. "The problem at Paramount is truly shocking," wrote analyst Michael Nathanson on in anticipation of the film opening on Friday. "Paramount's profits in FY2016 dropped by nearly $500M in a year with the studio poised to lose over $350M this year. Short of firing the entire Paramount leadership team, there is little a new CEO could do quickly to improve its film pipeline."