Judging by this weekend’s box office figures, staring at people staring at computers is just not that interesting… Benedict Cumberbatch’s new WikiLeaks biopic The Fifth Estate has failed to pull in the punters in north America, grossing just $1.7m (£1.05m) at 1,769 cinemas over its first weekend – the worst 2013 debut for a film opening in over 1,500 outlets.
For comparison, the widely critically-panned Movie 43 generated just $4.8m (£2.97m) back in January, almost three times the amount pulled in by Bill Condon’s profile of Julian Assange, which cost an estimate $30m (£18.5m) to make.
The Fifth Estate’s main rival, Arnold Schwarznegger and Sylvester Stallone’s action flick Escape Plan, also suffered a disappointing weekend, taking just $9.8m (£6.06m), although that is still six times the earnings of Cumberbatch’s effort.
The box office disaster comes as some surprise given the Sherlock actor’s growing star power both sides of the Atlantic and his ardent band of followers, known as the Cumberbitches. But although reviewers praised Cumberbatch’s performance, many took issue with the film itself and found Condon’s efforts to emulate the success of tech drama The Social Network lacking.
Fortunately for the British actor, his second film, 12 Years a Slave (also starring Cumberbatch), looks set to follow rave reviews with commercial success. The biopic of former slave, Solomon Northup, drew in $960,000 (£593,500) over the weekend, despite opening in just 19 cinemas, and is already generating a fair amount of Oscars buzz.