Ben-Hur may have had the worst reviews of the year’s three main Jesus movies, but it outdid the other two at the box office, at least, when it came to theatres last night.
Deadline reports that Ben-Hur grossed about $900,000 in Thursday-night preview screenings — which is almost equal to the amounts that Risen and The Young Messiah earned combined at their Thursday-night preview screenings earlier this year.
It remains to be seen how well Ben-Hur will do over the weekend as a whole, though.
Risen and The Young Messiah had similar Thursday-night previews, but very different first weekends. Risen earned $452,000 on its first Thursday and $11.8 million in its first weekend, while The Young Messiah earned $475,000 and $3.3 million.
So the fact that Ben-Hur did roughly twice as well as each film on Thursday night does not necessarily mean it will do twice as well as either film over the weekend.
Deadline notes that Ben-Hur also did better in Thursday-night previews than Gods of Egypt, which made $800,000 on its first Thursday and $14.1 million in its first weekend back in February. That might be the better point of comparison, since Ben-Hur has a budget of around $100 million and Gods of Egypt cost $140 million, whereas Risen and The Young Messiah both cost around $20 million.
The studio behind Ben-Hur is hoping the film will gross $20 million this weekend, but other observers have said it will land in the $10-15 million range, just like Gods of Egypt did — and that film is regarded as the first of the year’s major flops.
For what it’s worth, Ben-Hur did not have the best Thursday-night gross of the week’s new movies; that honour went to War Dogs, which took in $1.25 million.
Review-wise, Ben-Hur is currently sitting at 29% on Rotten Tomatoes. Risen is at 52% and The Young Messiah is at 47%, while Last Days in the Desert — which had a limited release and thus can’t be compared to the others revenue-wise — is at 72%.