Welcome to Marewan: Director Zemeckis–Steve Carell’s Artistic and Commercial Flop

Actor Steve Carell and director Robert Zemeckis Welcome to Marwen flopped big at the box-office.

The $40 million drama about a man’s attempts to overcome his PTSD is one of the biggest bombs of the year, debuting to a disastrous $2.4 million from 1,191 theaters.

The movie ties with Johnny Knoxville’s Action Point (Paramount) to mark the worst opening of 2018 for a Hollywood studio release.

It would lose between $45 million to $50 million when marketing and distribution costs are taken into account, according to rival studio executives, an embarrassing result for both Carell and Zemeckis.

“Welcome to Marwen” is also the worst wide-release major studio debut of 2018 and a career-worst wide-release start for the actor and the director.

“Welcome to Marwen” is the second big flop for Universal Studios in as many weeks. The studio also stands to lose $125 million-plus on “Mortal Engines,” a Peter Jackson fantasy that has grossed only $54.3 million globally.

The dramedy is expected to fade fast and will lose $50 million for Universal and Spielberg’s DreamWorks, who are 50-50 partners on Marwen.

Welcome to Marwen follows the disastrous opening of the Peter Jackson-produced Mortal Engines the previous weekend. That big-budgeter would lose $125 million for Universal and MRC, who co-financed the film.

The picture had hoped to serve as an alternative to more commercial tentpole fare, such as Aquaman, Bumblebee and Mary Poppins Returns.

Instead, moviegoers entirely rejected Marwen, which is based on the real-life story of artist Mark Hogancamp, who was savagely beat by five white supremacists after telling them he liked to wear women’s high-heeled shoes. Suffering from a brain injury and amnesia, Hogancamp, played by Carell, creates a miniature World War II village where his tiny counterpart is a hero battling Nazis. Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monaee and Eiza Gonzalez co-star.


Marwen arguably needed strong reviews, but instead, it ended up with a 25 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, and it only received a B- CinemaScore from audiences.

Marwen marks the lowest-grossing film directed by Zemeckis since his first two films decades ago. In addition to the 1994 Oscar winning Forrest Gump, his long career includes the Back to the Future franchise, Romancing the Stone, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Castaway and The Polar Express, in which he employed the same performance-capture techniques seen in Marwen.

Zemeckis’ The Walk (2015) topped out at $10.1 million in the U.S., but made $51 million internationally. Marwen, however, isn’t expected to be much of a draw offshore.