In a summer filled with big-budget misfires, "Pacific Rim" faces a steep challenge at the box office this weekend.
Though Guillermo del Toro's 3-D robot action flick has so far earned mostly positive reviews -- including from such unlikely figures as Kanye West -- the film has yet to generate strong interest among moviegoers. On Monday, those who had seen pre-release audience surveys said the picture may only open with around $30 million in ticket sales -- an underwhelming start for a production with a budget of nearly $190 million.
But if Del Toro is anxious about the film's box office prospects he wasn't showing it at the movie's premiere in Hollywood on Tuesday night. The filmmaker, 48, was first to arrive on the red carpet outside the Dolby Theatre -- rare for big-name talent, a breed not exactly known for punctuality.
“I’m not a guy that plays inside baseball,” the Mexican-born filmmaker said of his picture’s financials. “My responsibility as a director is to be fiscally responsible and deliver a movie under budget and under schedule. I think we have an amazing movie -- one I’ve seen connect with an audience like crazy. So it’s anyone’s guess what happens.”
"Pacific Rim," the first film Del Toro has directed in five years (he of course has been active as a producer, and as a director was also developing "At the Mountains of Madness" and the "Hobbit" pictures in that time), tells the story of a group of robots controlled by soldiers who battle against ocean-born alien monsters. Charlie Hunnam, best known for his role on FX's "Sons of Anarchy," plays a pilot in the movie, which also stars Idris Elba, Charlie Day and Rinko Kikuchi.
“It’s actually something original in this landscape of nothing but remakes and adaptations,” the 33-year-old Hunnam said. “There’s actually a story in the movie rather than resting on the expertise of special effects and excitement of that. Guillermo actually set out to tell a story about human beings.”
The movie certainly already has plenty of celebrity fans -- Emma Watson, Patton Oswalt and West have all raved about it on Twitter. Last week, the rapper said "Pacific Rim" was "easily one of my favorite movies of all time" -- not just "another 'Robot' movie."
"Guillermo del Toro is a master," he wrote.
Del Toro said he was taking note of these endorsements -- particularly West's.
“I loved it. We are all big fans of his music in the family and I think he’s a really great artist,” the director said. “It’s fascinating that he took to the movie that much, because he’s very private. He’s not a guy that has a million tweets out there.”
West's approval might do more than a traditional critic's review when it comes to getting moviegoers to the multiplex this weekend, added actor Day.
“I’m very grateful that he did it, and I’m not surprised he liked it,” said the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star. “No one is getting paid to tweet about these things. It certainly would influence me if one of my favorite actors said, ‘Go see a movie.’ ”
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