Punisher: War Zone Flops
December 8, 2008

As reported by Tom McLean, Punisher: War Zone is considered a failure. It had the worst opening ever for a Marvel-related movie, at $4 million over the weekend.

I feel no glee at this. It wasn’t my kind of movie, but for those who like testosterone-soaked bullet-fests, it seemed watchable. I think McLean has it right, that it’s a matter of timing. December films are expected to be blockbuster crowd-pleasers, family films, or prestige pics; this is none of the above. This seems more a summer or fall movie. He goes on to say,

The audience for this kind of movie has been dwindling into nichedom for years

Just like superhero comic fans, hmmm? But there’s always DVD sales to hope for.

12 Responses  
Freaky Weasel writes:  

I can’t believe anyone is surprised. In all of comicdom I don’t think there is a more one-note character.

The fanboys that supported his rise in the 90s have grown up, and can’t be entertained (in my opinion) by such a simple story.

Tom Sanchez Prunier writes:  

Just some thoughts from someone who has seen none of the three “Punisher” movies. First one had Dolph Lungren, then Thomas Jayne a couple of years ago. Didn’t recognize the actor from the poster, but wasn’t interested.

If it is to spin off from comic/graphic novel, maybe it should be a video game first? Or is it already? The fact that it flopped during the holidays is no surprise; you nailed it that this season is about family films and Oscar contenders, not action films.

I bet tomorrow’s “Dark Knight” DVD sales will outdo “Punisher” receipts through the end of the year.

Too bad. Good character.

odessa steps magazine writes:  

As I’ve written elsewhere today, two people from work saw it opening day and had a good time with it. It was exactly what they expected: a hyperviolent movie with plenty of black comedy.

It sounds like the Ennis version of the Punisher.

Hard to imagine this movie made less money opening weekend than HOward the Duck did back in the mid 1980s.

George S. writes:  

Did it flop because it sucked, or because people don’t want to watch these sorts of films on holiday season?

Regardless, I hope I get to watch it when it comes to the Philippines. :)

Johanna writes:  

I think Howard the Duck has a certain amount of unique charm. And a wider potential audience.

I don’t think I’d say “it sucked” (especially since I haven’t seen it), but it didn’t seem to have the quality to transcend its niche, either.

El Santo writes:  

Ebert gave it two stars, which isn’t so bad considering he gave Fantastic Four only one. I think the timing’s just bad; I personally don’t feel like going to a hyperviolent movie this time of year.

Kinda sad since Ray Stephenson actually looked like Frank Castle.

Paul O'Brien writes:  

I think the problem with the Punisher, as a movie franchise, is that movies don’t need him. In comics, he has a niche: he’s the go-to character for a particular type of B-movie revenge thriller. In movies, they already HAVE B-movie revenge thrillers, and they don’t need to re-import the Punisher just to make them again.

Ralf Haring writes:  

The new Punisher was what it was, a hyper-violent R-rated action movie. It wasn’t good, but it was fun. I think Stephenson literally doesn’t even talk for the first twenty minutes of the movie.

Andrew K writes:  

Hello! Long-time reader, first time poster here.

The problem with the Punisher is that, in the Marvel U, he’s a unique anti-hero fighting alongside and/or against the ‘goody-goodies’ (not to disparage Ennis’ great superhero-less MAX series), whereas on film, he’s just another action hero.

The best Punisher stories are when he clashes with other heroes, particularly Daredevil, and well… you can’t really do that on film.

Chris writes:  

I have to dissagree, Kill Bill, Desporado, even Punisher (Thomas Cane)did good enouth….Lions Gate should of got on the ball an kept Thomas Cane, The Punisher should be the easiest of Super Hero movies to make, and one of the cheapest, get Quinton Taratino involved, get some B-list c-list actor that an average moviegoer will recognise, oh and a script w/ some sort of plot, you can torchure the heroes friends, but killing everyone associated w/ the hero of the film is sure to cause dissaster when releasing a major studio film.

Who Wants to See Kick-Ass? » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] so it’s coming out from the smaller independent Lionsgate, producers of The Spirit, Punisher: War Zone, and horror films like Saw. That track record doesn’t give me a lot of confidence, but […]

Lions Gate Buying Summit » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] Their slate has included American Psycho, Dogma, Fahrenheit 9/11, the comic book movies Kick-Ass, Punisher: War Zone, and The Spirit, the Conan the Barbarian remake, and the upcoming Hunger Games film […]


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