Well, every prestige ensemble picture can’t be a home run. The latest victim of astronomical hype: David O. Russell’s Amsterdam, which appears to be morphing from a star-studded 1930s caper with awards-season buzz to a box-office bomb. Deadline reports that between a projected global gross of $35 million, $70 million in estimated global P&A, and all other home ancillaries, Amsterdam could lose $97 million.
Per Deadline, although rivals had once believed Amsterdam could bring home $12-$15 million in its opening, the real numbers paled in comparison. The film debuted with a $6.5M opening in 3,005 theaters, and altogether did a $10M worldwide start. Despite the star power of Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, John David Washington, Taylor Swift, and more, Amsterdam just couldn’t find the legs of Russell’s Oscar-nominated 2013 ensemble American Hustle.
The American Hustle comparison looks even starker when it comes to budgets: Amsterdam reportedly cost twice as much as American Hustle to make. Some of the hefty costs stemmed from (say it with us) the pandemic, which halted production in March 2020. The shoot had originally been planned for Boston, but amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19 most of the actors chose not to travel, so filming was moved to Los Angeles. All in all, even with a $2.5 million California tax credit, the location shift (not to mention the highly stylized period-piece setting) bumped costs from $50 million to $80 million.
A rocky run at the box office hasn’t been the only thing deflating Amsterdam’s balloons. Critics haven’t exactly lauded the film, and it now holds a 34% on Rotten Tomatoes. The A.V. Club’s Jordan Hoffman, in his review of the film, writes that Amsterdam “zooms along unexpected narrative curves with a tremendous self-confidence it mistakes for grace. In actuality, it’s more of a shamble, like a sloppy guy at a bar telling a farfetched tale signifying not-too-much.” What signifies confidence better than a dramatic, glittery box-office flop that involves Taylor Swift getting thrown into traffic?