After the success of his first two films,The Witch and The Lighthouse, filmmaker Robert Eggers graduated from the indie studio A24 and made the move to Focus Features for his third film, The Northman. The historical epic carried an estimated $70 to $90 million budget as it followed the story of a Viking prince on a quest to avenge his murdered father.
Unfortunately, the epic did underperform at the box office when it was released in April of this year. The expensive historical epic failed to meet the tail end of its production budget, grossing roughly $68 million worldwide. With the immersive narrative and immensely talented cast attached to the project, it was strange to learn that the historical epic failed the way it did, especially with the success of Eggers’s previous films.
Despite the film’s underwhelming performance at the box office, Focus Features’ Production and Acquisitions Head, Kiska Higgs, told the Hollywood Reporter that The Northman “ended up being a win for us financially.”
“I know in the press [The Northman] hasn’t been lauded as a success, but it was okay for us in the end,” Higgs said. “There are additional ways for us to monetize things, at least for us at Universal. It was one we shared with New Regency, and we weren’t really front and center on the production of that.”
'The Northman'Credit: Focus Features
Despite being labeled as a box office bomb, it sounds like Eggers’s ambitious project was a financial success based on the executive’s comments. This is great news for fans of Eggers who want to continue seeing the arthouse director making big-budget films with a high-profile distributor like Focus.
At a time when non-IP-based movies tend to perform poorly at the modern box office, it is clear that there is still an audience that wants these types of arthouse films that are made for adults.
While Higgs did not provide any exact figures for The Northman, it needed an estimated $200 million gross to break even in theaters, and while the studio takes a higher percentage of home media and PVOD releases, the film had some serious ground to make up before it could be considered a success.
I, for one, am very happy that Eggers’s ambitious and well-researched historical epic paid off in the end, hopefully giving more studios the confidence to produce and distribute unique and different films from indie directors. I also recommend going to the theaters to watch a movie made by an indie filmmaker who makes it big, or really any filmmaker that you appreciate. Going to the theaters can help with the success of a film, while also giving you a breathtaking experience that you wouldn't get at home.
As for Eggers, he is already looking to the future with his remake of the German Expressionist classic, Nosferatu,and another medieval film, The Knight. If you still haven’t watched The Northman, I highly recommend checking out the film on VOD platforms or streaming it on Peacock.
Have you watched The Northman? Let us know what you think of the film in the comments!
Source: The Hollywood Reporter