Reports of Justin Bieber's retirement may have been exaggerated, but there's no exaggeration when it comes to his disastrous week at the box-office.
Bieber's new documentary, "Believe," arrived in theaters this week, playing at 1,037 locations across the country — but the Beliebers did not come out in force, as they did for 2011's "Never Say Never."
BoxOfficeMojo.com reports that "Believe" opened on Christmas Day in 14th place, earning a mere $1.25 million. It's a far cry from the initial results for "Never Say Never," which premiered almost three years ago with a $12.4 million opening day.
It's worth noting that "Never Say Never," the first of the two Jon M. Chu-directed Bieber documentaries, enjoyed a significantly wider opening than "Believe," playing on roughly 3,000 screens. The film also arrived during a lightly populated box office frame, opening in February 2011 against Adam Sandler's "Just Go With It" and the animated-comedy "Gnomeo and Juliet." The Sandler comedy won that weekend by a hair, edging out "Never Say Never" by little more than $1 million.
"Believe," in contrast, entered theaters against stiffer competition. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" reigns supreme at the box-office after three weeks in theaters. "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," an event ten years in the making, is also doing solid business, even if it's not as hot as expected. On top of those releases, some notable Oscar front-runners opened this week, including Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" and David O. Russell's "American Hustle." With so much to choose from, "Believe" faced an uphill struggle, even with counter-programming factored into the equation.
"Believe's" failure doesn't seem to be a critical issue, however. As of this writing, the movie holds a 67% fresh rating on review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com, albeit based on seven reviews. Nevertheless, it closely mirrors the mostly positive reaction to "Never Say Never," the proud owner of a 64% fresh rating across more than 100 reviews.
Still, the critical thumbs-up doesn't reverse the thumbs-down from theatergoers. If it's any consolation, the film only cost studio Open Road between $4 and $5 million to produce, according to The Wall Street Journal. The film's low-cost takes some of the sting out of the $1.25 million debut, but certainly not all of it.
Put another way: If Bieber's retirement plans include a continued career on the silver screen, the record-breaking artist might want to reevaluate the situation.
What do you think of the "Believe" box office results?