Movie Reviews

Why Battleship 2 Was Cancelled

Summary

  • Battleship 2 never happened due to poor box office income and lackluster audience response to the original film.
  • Critical reception also played a role in the cancellation, with negative reviews affecting interest in a sequel.
  • Despite the flop, the cast of Battleship rebounded well, with some members finding success in other projects.



Even though Universal and Hasbro Studios’ 2012 blockbuster Battleship was a huge investment for the company, plans for Battleship 2 and an extended franchise never came to fruition. Taking the simple board game and converting it into a blockbuster, the movie followed a fleet of Navy ships doing battle with an army of alien ships. The movie boasted a gargantuan budget of between $209-$220 million and stars including Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, and Rihanna. Yet despite having all the hallmarks of a franchise launchpad, the movie failed to kickstart a successful Battleship series.

Battleship 2012 was an unusual combination of unorthodox adaptation and sci-fi epic. Based on the distinctly uncinematic Battleship board game, screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber decided to shake up the turn-based, pin-placing formula by making the story revolve around an alien invasion. Although this lore was entirely absent from the original game, the decision nonetheless helped form some sort of narrative around the source material. However, even with this story in place, Battleship did not succeed in laying the foundations for a potential sequel – despite a tease in the Battleship post-credits scene.


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Battleship Was A Box Office Failure For Universal Pictures

The $220 Million Blockbuster Fell Short Of Expectations

An alien ship approaching as Cora Raikes (Rihanna) readies a gun in Battleship

The primary reason that Battleship 2 never happened was the first movie’s failure at the box office. Against its $220 million budget, the movie only made around $303 million globally. Since most estimates suggest that a film has to make around two-and-a-half times its budget in order to be financially successful, Battleship fell well short of profitability. This is especially true because the movie had a marketing budget of around $100 million. As such, plans for Battleship 2 were always likely to end in disappointment.


Particularly damning for the studio was its domestic box office earnings. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie made just $65.4 in the United States and Canada. This failure to capture any sort of audience at home was the major factor in its paltry total earnings. In fact, a Hollywood Reporter article estimated that the movie lost around $150 million for Universal. Consequently, Battleship 2 was never likely to be green-lit.

How Poor Reviews Also Led To Battleship 2’s Cancelation

Fans Response Was Also Lackluster

An alien ship emerging from the water in Battleship

A key contributor to Battleship‘s terrible box office was undoubtedly its critical reception. While it’s not unheard of for panned movies to perform well financially, Battleship‘s Rotten Tomatoes score of 33% certainly didn’t help generate interest. To make matters worse, audiences were equally unenthused with the board game movie, with just 54% of general viewers responding positively, according to the review aggregator.


It’s clear from Battleship‘s post-credits scene that there were plans to continue the story beyond the first movie. However, given that a common complaint from critics was the formulaic and derivative nature of the plot, it seems unlikely that Battleship 2 would have brought anything radically different to the table. Given the huge losses incurred by the first Battleship, some studio executives may be secretly relieved that the project never went ahead.

How The Battleship Cast Have Rebounded From The Flop

The Cast Includes Several Award-Winning Actors Who Broke Big After Battleship’s Failure


Despite Battleship flopping and the actors quickly realizing they likely weren’t going to return for a sequel, the overall cast of Battleship fared well in the aftermath. There were some actors who were going to be relatively safe no matter how the movie was received, such as Liam Neeson who was the veteran of the ensemble and well-established. While it wasn’t a great acting debut for Rihanna, earning a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor, the superstar singer’s reputation was unharmed and she carried on her tremendous success.

Likely the hardest-hit actor in the cast was Taylor Kitsch. His reputation as an emerging leading man in Hollywood was obviously going to be damaged by heading up a bomb like Battleship, but it was made worse by the fact that Kitsch had also been the star of Disney’s John Carter earlier in the year, which itself was one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history and led to the cancelation of the planned John Carter sequels.


Despite leading two failed franchises, Kitsch continued working, finding more success in supporting roles, such as in 2013’s Lone Survivor, in which he reunited with Battleship director Peter Berg. More recently, Kitsch starred alongside Chris Pratt in the successful series The Terminal List and will lead the upcoming spinoff series The Terminal List: Dark Wolf.

The supporting cast of Battleship fared even better following the failure of the first movie. Alexander Skarsgård was the second-billed star of the movie, and like Kitsch, seemed to be someone Hollywood was attempting to turn into a new blockbuster star. However, Skarsgård found success embracing more challenging roles and branching out on television. Skarsgård won an Emmy for his role as Perry Wright in Big Little Lies and earned two nominations for playing Lukas Mattsen in Succession. Likewise, Battleship supporting players includes Jesse Plemons, who has become an Oscar nominee, and Tadanobu Asano, who recently earned acclaim on Shogun.


Battleship movie poster

Battleship

Director
Peter Berg

Release Date
April 11, 2012

Runtime
131minutes

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