The Northman Box Office: Hit or Flop?

The Northman was a large scale Viking epic directed by Robert Eggers, produced by New Regency and distributed by Focus Features (Subsidiary of Universal). It grossed 69.6 million in worldwide box office earnings on a production budget of 70-90 million (Studio says 70, the director has said 90) making it a box office bomb. The break even point for The Northman was likely around 175 million if we use the conventional 2.5x rule. This would make it one of the biggest bombs of 2022.

Box Office Tracking and Predictions

The Northman had low expectations going in. The film had an opening weekend forecast of just 8-13 million which is quite bad for a film of it’s budget. This was much better than it’s long range forecast which only projected an opening weekend gross of 6-9 million. There wasn’t much pent up demand for the film as it was an original film from a somewhat unknown director with no big stars attached (Nicole Kidman had a limited role in the film). The Northman was also released during a depressed period when it came to the box office. The theatrical industry was still very much dealing with the effects of Covid-19 and moviegoers were still wary of going to movie theaters, especially for non IP films.

Overall Performance: International and Domestic Numbers

The Northman hit the high end of its box office predictions coming in at a 12.5 million opening weekend and legging out to a 34 million domestic finish. The film had relatively weak legs as it dropped 64% on it’s first Friday, largely due to poor audience reception. The film received a low 64% verified rotten tomatoes audience score despite being critically acclaimed. This was one of the reasons The Northman did not make much money at the box office. Internationally the film made 34 million in theatrical revenue. One of the bigger standouts in the international market was Sweden (1.4 million). Alexander Skarsgard is a big star there so that can be the reason for the film’s overperformance there.

Why did the Northman flop?

As briefly mentioned before The Northman mainly flopped because it was a non IP film with no big stars and it wasn’t well received by audiences. Another reason was that the film was rated R and was pretty gory and violent. The film played much more like an arthouse film, which was not what audiences were expecting when they saw the action packed trailer. Comparisons that were thrown around included Conan the Barbarian, Gladiator and Braveheart but these never held water. Anyone that had watched Robert Egger’s previous two films (The Witch, The Lighthouse) knew that he wouldn’t cater to mainstream audiences with this movie. There were attempts from the studio to interfere with Eggers vision but the director has said that this is directors cut and he is proud of the movie.

Disputed in the Press: Did The Northman Make Money?

There have been reports that the Northman turned a profit for the studio after doing very well on VOD but these claims are dubious. A spokesperson for focus features made it seem like The Northman wasn’t a huge failure and that “it was ok for us in the end”. This is a half truth as in the same interview she said of The Northman “It was one we shared with New Regency, and we weren’t really front and center on production of that”. So in reality The studio that produced the film and forked over 90 million dollars was New Regency and not Focus Features as they just distributed the film. So in theory Focus Features could of made money on the Northman but there’s no way New Regency did.